Royal Ascot Top Trainers: O’Brien Set to Clean up in 2017

The Queen at Ascot

By Almaktoumfamily123 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It has been a rollercoaster week or so in British politics, and the bad news for Queen Elizabeth II is that the rocky road to a formal government is not over yet.

With talks between the Conservatives and the DUP ongoing, the announcement of the official government to carry us forward for the next four or five years is yet to be undertaken. As such, the Queen is still waiting for her chance to deliver her speech.

The decision now will be for Her Majesty to miss Royal Ascot for the first time in 64 years should an agreement be in place between the two parties on June 24 as planned, or if she is feeling rebellious simply to delay it until the following Monday and watch her horses compete on the famous Berkshire turf.

Much of the attention at Ascot is paid to the horses themselves – naturally, but a thought must go to the trainers that prepare their steeds in advance of a tilt at the riches on offer.

They are a competitive bunch and know that Ascot results can go a long way towards deciding the outcome of the British Champion Trainer. It’s big money and big business, and the bookmakers even run a book on who will nab the most winners across the festival’s five days.

Here’s how they think the trainers are shaping up:

It’s no surprise to see perennial favourite Aidan O’Brien heading the market, but will he enjoy a profitable week or will one of the other contenders notch a few big winners? Let’s take a look….

Aidan O’Brien

The Irishman is one of the most decorated trainers in horse racing history let alone Royal Ascot; where he has guided countless winners through the years.

He operates from the infamous Ballydoyle yard on behalf of the ownership team of John Magnier and the Coolmore Stud connection, who have a habit of acquiring some rather handy horses.

Name a British Classic and the chances are that O’Brien has won it. He’s picked up the Guineas double on more than one occasion, is a seven-time Ascot Gold Cup winner and six-time Derby champion; needless to say, he will be rubbing his hands together in anticipation of another glory-filled week at Ascot.

His best hopes for success are the outstanding 2000 Guineas winner Churchill, the intriguing Winter and Order of St George, who is likely to go off as an odds-on favourite for the Ascot Gold Cup.

John Gosden

With four British Classic titles, more than 100 Group 1 winners and 2,000 in total, if anybody can challenge O’Brien for supremacy at Ascot it will surely be John Gosden.

In a lengthy and distinguished career he is a multiple-time winning trainer of the Epsom Derby, the Oaks and the St Leger, and he has taken the spoils in a number of key international races including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2015.

His 56 winners so far this season have come at an impressive success rate of 22.76%, with a place count of some 45.12%.

Gosden’s most likely source of joy in one of Royal Ascot’s big races is Jack Hobbs, who will dispute favouritism in the Prince of Wales Stakes with Ulysses and Highland Reel. After a disappointing 2016 when he was beset with injury, the five-year-old has bounded back with victory in Dubai this year and looks primed to recapture his best form.

Saaed Bin Suroor

It’s been another decent campaign for the Dubai man with a win percentage of 27.66%; only bettered by three trainers that have entered 25 or more races.

The four-time British Champion Trainer is a key component of the Godolphin operation, and as such is able to route an impressive array of horses to the festival. The pick of the bunch is perhaps Benbatl, a capable sort who finished just two lengths back from the Derby winner, Wings of Eagles, just a couple of weeks ago.

Bin Suroor is a five-time Ascot Gold Cup winning trainer, has lifted both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas trophies and has more than 20 winners at Ascot to his name.

Sir Michael Stoute

It’s been a mixed campaign for Sir Michael Stoute, whose win and place stats are markedly down on his main competitors at Ascot.

But it is impossible to write off the yard that has produced five 2000 Guineas winners, five Epsom Derby champions and five other British Classic victories. Stoute has been named Champion Trainer on an incredible ten occasions.

He has four contenders who are very much live in some of Ascot’s most prestigious renewals. Mirage Dancer and Crystal Ocean will duke it out in the King Edward VII Stakes – one of them will go off as favourite with the bookmakers, while in Ulysses he has a genuine chance of glory in the lucrative Prince of Wales Stakes.

And then there’s the hardy Dartmouth in the Hardwicke Stakes….Sir Michael Stoute has plenty of aces up his sleeve for Ascot.