Peerless O'Brien again in a league of his own at Royal Ascot

Ballydoyle trainer takes his tally to 91 winners - and wins top trainer title for the 13th time

Horse Racing - Royal Ascot - Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Britain - June 24, 2023 Aidan O'Brien celebrate winning the Royal Ascot champion trainer trophy with his wife Anne-Marie REUTERS/Andrew Boyers
Aidan O'Brien celebrate winning the Royal Ascot champion trainer trophy with his wife Anne-Marie (Reuters via Beat Media Group subscription)

By James Toney at Royal Ascot

Aidan O'Brien has long turned this verdant and floral corner of Berkshire into a little corner of Tipperary. Surely it's only a matter of time before Ascot is officially twinned with Rosegreen.

Since Harbour Pilot, ridden by Christy Roche, won his first Royal Ascot race in 1997, O'Brien has been the dominant force at these five days in June.

In the 27 years since, he has only twice returned home with nothing to show for his efforts.

This was his 13th top trainer title, a handler now in a pantheon of all his own at a meeting whose history dates back to 1840.

“It’s very special," said O'Brien, who finished the week with six winners, one short of his record from 2016. "We feel grateful and privileged, we are just so lucky to have so many special people.

"The lads obviously at the top run the whole show and that’s where it comes from, but a lot of people put in a lot of hard work day in, day out – there are so many names I can’t mention – they are the people that make it happen.

"It is a real privilege to be here with such great horses really. The atmosphere, the track, the people, the facilities, just are absolutely unbelievable. You have to come here to see it to believe it. It’s like nowhere ever could be in the world."

O'Brien came into the final day with five wins and quickly added another, as juvenile Frankel filly Bedtime Story caught the field napping - and announced herself as one to watch - in the Chesham Stakes.

Her near ten length was the biggest of the week and gives O'Brien a nice headache in the months ahead, following stable-mate Fairy Godmother's similarly attention-grabbing success in the Albany Stakes.

Classic campaigns loom on the horizon for both but this was one to watch and savour.

Even Coolmore's Derrick Smith - a man very used to winning on big stages - said the performance left him 'speechless'.

"Ryan said he couldn’t believe it; he said everyone fell away, he said ‘go on’, and she just took off," said O'Brien.

“We thought she was probably a Group One filly, but we hadn’t looked – thinking is one thing and seeing is another, so everyone saw it together today. We never let Bedtime Story go before. This was the first time she was asked to stretch."

O'Brien always hedges his bets when asked to rank performances, a bit like a football manager who never criticises his squad and never sees an error.

Kyprios's brilliant win in the Gold Cup - following a remarkable return from an injury that O'Brien feared may end his life - was certainly special.

But he claimed double Derby winner Auguste Rodin's Prince of Wales Stakes victory - a sixth career Group One - was the high point, hinting he may be back in a few weeks for a crack at the King George, Ascot's mid summer showpiece.

“It's hard but that has to be the stand out," he added. "He is a very special one, we always felt he would love this high summer racing. We think we have worked out now the way he likes to be ridden – forward and uncomplicated. We're excited about what is next with him."

After last year's record 12 winners, ten successes in Berkshire was a very good return for the Green Team - with five different Irish trainers getting on the board.

And it wasn't just familiar faces. After Friday's emotional win for Gerry Keane, with his first runner at the meeting, Dylan Browne McMonagle broke his duck, winning the 35th and final race of the week, the Queen Alexandra Stakes, on Joseph O'Brien's Uxmal.

You don't need to be called O'Brien to win here ... but it helps.