O’Brien happy with Cup team
Aidan O'Brien cast his eye over his formidable team for this year's Breeders' Cup following his arrival on the back stretch at Santa Anita on Tuesday morning.
Aidan O'Brien (l) cast his eye over his Breeders' Cup team
The master of Ballydoyle is set to saddle 12 runners over the course of the two days in California, with Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine Found the headline act.
After filling the runner-up spot in five consecutive Group One events, the four-year-old led home a one-two-three for O'Brien in Europe's premier middle-distance contest in Paris last month, before finishing second in the Champion Stakes at Ascot for the second successive year.
Connections seriously considered an audacious tilt at the Classic over 10 furlongs on dirt against California Chrome and company, but she will instead defend her crown in Saturday's mile-and-a-half Turf, in which she beat Derby and Arc hero Golden Horn last year.
Undaunted by the prospect of fast terrain, O'Brien said: "Found has run a lot of races on fast ground and showed us she likes it.
"On the international stage, you can't get quicker conditions than you do here. She will certainly be in her own buffer zone.
"If we had gone the other way, she would be doing something she had never experienced before (running on dirt) and we felt it was an exceptionally strong Classic."
The trainer also fields Highland Reel in the Turf. Last year's Hong Kong Vase hero was a shade under two lengths behind Found in the Arc.
"With Highland Reel, we're very happy with him. We've had our eye on the Turf since he ran in the Arc and I think him being in the race will suit Found as well," said O'Brien.
"Obviously having them both in the same contest gives us a wonderful chance."
O'Brien could feasibly equal or break the late Bobby Frankel's long-standing record of saddling 25 Group One winners on the Flat in a calendar year at this weekend's showpiece meeting.
The trainer has so far trained 21 top-level Flat winners in 2016, but insists he is just focussing on each individual race.
"Before leaving home I spoke to Ryan (Moore) and his comment was that after the draw, there was a lot to think about," said O'Brien.
"It certainly handed us a mixture of good and bad and we will go through the races to discuss tactics one by one.
"Bobby Frankel was a great man, but we are not even thinking about it (the record) in any way.
"When we run our horses in different Group Ones, we do it because we feel that's the way to go and with their best opportunities the main thing."
O'Brien will still have a chance of equalling or beating Frankel's tally even if he does not do so on Saturday after revealing both Found and Highland Reel will come under consideration for trips to the Far East later in the year.
He added: "Found will be retired at the end of the year, but along with Highland Reel, she could go to Japan or Hong Kong."
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