Race horse training is a notoriously tough game, and while the sport of kings may look all glitz and glamour, there are as many failures as successes.
There are however a few legends of the industry who seem to have the midas touch.
Formerly a very successful jumps trainer, O’Brien decided to focus solely on the flat in 1957 and his impact on flat racing was immeasurable thereafter. A winner of the Epsom Derby on six occasions, including with Nijinsky (1970), who remains the last horse to complete the English Triple Crown; which requires a horse to win in the 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger. He ended his career with a truly remarkable 141 Group 1 winners.
No relation to Vincent, Aidan took over the training at the world famous Ballydoyle stables after Vincent’s retirement in 1994. Since 1995 O’Brien has been working at Ballydoyle, an iconic racehorse training facility in County Tipperary, Ireland. Thanks to O’Brien’s incredible efforts, Ballydoyle has become known as a genuine champion factory
Aidan set a new world record of 26 Group or Grade 1 wins in a calendar year when Saxon Warrior landed the 2017 Racing Post Trophy. By the end of the year, O’Brien had extended the figure to 28; the record looks likely to stand for many years to come. O’Brien has trained winners in almost every major flat racing event in the UK and Ireland, and has also celebrated successes in France, Australia and the United States where he has won 12 different Breeders’ Cup events.
The records just keep coming for this Irish racing legend, Aidan set a new record of 152 winners in a Flat season when crowned champion trainer 21st time in 2018. Anthony Van Dyck, ridden by Seamus Heffernan, gave Aidan a record-equalling seventh victory in the Epsom Derby in 2019. In July 2020 he followed up this win with his eight Epsom Derby win. Add this to his 8th Epsom Oaks winner in 2020 and Aiden O’Brien now has clocked up over 300 Group 1 winners and counting.
D. Wayne Lukas
Training race horses since 1974 including legends such as Lady’s Secret, Thunder Gulch, Serena’s Song, D Wayne Lukas has clocked up over 5,000! He is known for spearheading and making big changes in the equine industry, being one of the first American trainers to make a habit out of shipping horses around the country, and the expression “Wayne off the plane” became a popular one very quickly.
Baffert has won an incredible five Kentucky Derbies, seven Preakness Stakes, three Belmont Stakes and three Kentucky Oaks. Not to mention 15-odd Breeders’ Cup races and three Dubai World Cups. Not bad for a former quarterhorse rider and trainer from Nogales, Arizona.
Baffert is one of the most recognisable horse racing figures in the world and you can be sure when the Kentucky Derby next rolls around he will be front and centre with his latest blueblood contender.