Galileo’s golden touch part of O’Brien’s success
Galileo: has been a pivotal influence in Aidan O'Brien's training careerPICTURE: Peter Mooney Galileo's golden touch part of O'Brien's success
By Julian Muscat 4:53PM 4 AUG 2016
THE graphic in Saturday's edition of this newspaper left no room for argument: Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle stable is having its best season, both in Britain and beyond.
O'Brien will soon overhaul John Gosden's British record prize-money haul of £5.3 million. With the delights of York's Ebor festival, the St Leger meeting, Future Champions Day and Champions Day still to come, the Irish wizard stands just over £300,000 short.
What's more, O'Brien has racked up these fabulous numbers without winning the Derby, which is Britain's most valuable race. He didn't win the 2,000 Guineas, either, all of which serves to illustrate the strength in depth of his resources.
O'Brien is also on target to better the world record of 25 Group or Grade 1 wins in a season, which was posted by the late Bobby Frankel in 2003. This isn't really comparing like with like: championship races in the US are contested every month of the year, as opposed to the narrower European window between May and October.
Even so, O'Brien has picked up 12 to date, although the trophy for Ivanovich Gorbatov's Triumph Hurdle victory really ought to rest on his son Joseph's mantelpiece.
O'Brien now holds the world record for career Group 1 wins, Highland Reel's King George triumph having taken him past the 279 claimed by the Australians for TJ Smith, and The Gurkha (Sussex Stakes) and Minding (Nassau) have since taken O'Brien's tally to 282.
All in all, it's a highly appropriate way for O'Brien to celebrate two decades at Ballydoyle. He is still only 46, so who knows by how far he will go on to stretch these records? It is certainly difficult to envisage anyone bettering his achievements this century.
But there's one aspect of O'Brien's headline season that has not yet been highlighted. It is that every single one of his 11 Flat Group or Grade 1 wins have been gained by sons or daughters of Galileo.
That, too, must be some sort of record; perhaps even the most extraordinary of the lot. Yes, Minding (four races), The Gurkha (two), Deauville (in the US), Alice Springs, Highland Reel, Order Of St George and Seventh Heaven are all by the stallion who simply has no peer.
Delve a little deeper into Galileo's role within O'Brien's achievements and his pivotal influence becomes even more striking.
The stallion is responsible for 13 of the top 20 O'Brien-trained earners in Britain this year, with a bankroll of £4,036,180. The other seven, by all other stallions combined, have earned just £611,358.
It has been a similar story in Ireland, where 13 of O'Brien's top 20 earners are by Galileo. Those 13 horses have earned €784,434; the other seven have amassed €292,113. This in a season in which Ballydoyle has won just one of the four Irish Classics.
It seems implausible that any sire can have had such a profound influence over the accomplishments of one trainer. Recent statistics bear that out. In 2012, Ballydoyle housed four of Galileo's top ten seasonal earners. That total increased by one a year until 2016; Ballydoyle is now home to eight of the top ten.
It can be no coincidence that Godolphin's struggle to match the might of Ballydoyle dates back to the Maktoum family's decision to boycott the progeny of Coolmore sires in 2005. To compete without the progeny of Galileo – and before him, those of his sire Sadler's Wells – has been akin to boxing with shackled hands.
Galileo's relationship with Ballydoyle in 2016 comes in contrast to Godolphin's relationship with its ‘own' sire, Dubawi. Only one horse among the top ten prize-money earners by Dubawi this year, Safety Check, races for Godolphin. If Godolphin aspire to their former glories they must seek better returns from this proven source of top-class runners.
In the meantime, Galileo seems sure to help O'Brien surpass yet more records. And with Galileo's three-year-old crop of 2020 currently nestling in the wombs of mares grazing happily at pasture, the story looks set to run and run.