Aiden O’Brien: Star Trainer Goes Against Trend to ‘Freshness’
So You Think, Australian superstar moved to Coolmore’s barn this season and began the year with 2 resounding victories before falling a half length short at Royal Ascot yesterday.
What jumps out at me is trainer Aiden O’Brien’s comments afterwards:
He was notably candid about So You Think, admitting: “I will take responsibility for this personally. After he won his first two races so easily I had gone easy on him. I think it was trainer error, I didn’t have him fit enough for this kind of race.” (Contrast with American trainer: “He looked great after his last 4F work, didn’t blow out a match – he just didn’t fire today/failed to handle the surface…etc.)
Bravo Mr. O’Brien! Today’s American trainer would think just the opposite after consulting the Ragozin/Thorograph figures and would undoubtedly prescribe a period of rest and/or light training – instead Ballydoyle chief realizes this elite equine athlete will likely thrive on additional work.
Remember So You Think (NZ) came from the Australian barn of Bart Cummings, while I don’t profess to know specifically the conditioning protocol employed by Mr. Cummings, I would wager it is fairly aggressive compared to the American standard – as evidenced by the fact that at age 3 this colt was fit enough to capture both Cox Plate and Emirates Stakes victories in a 2 week window. Then at age 4, he again won the Cox Plate and followed ONE WEEK later with another Group One victory.
When was the last time an American trained colt was able to win 2 graded stakes races within one week at age 4? I could spend hours looking it up – do any readers know off the top of their heads? (I imagine you must go back at least 25 years….)