Aidan O’Brien’s best Epsom Derby winners

The Derby, the Flat race that everyone involved in the sport of horse racing dreams of winning once. The brilliant Aidan O'Brien has achieved that feat eight times… and counting!

Aidan O'Brien has three of the 18 runners in this Saturday's Derby (16:30) as he looks for a ninth win in the Epsom Classic.

Stone Age looks a very serious contender after claiming the Leopardstown Derby Trial by five and a half lengths. His other runners Changingoftheguard and Star Of India could also challenge and it would no surprise to see a Ballydoyle outsider win, as happened with Serpentine in 2020.

O'Brien's winners list is as follows: Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012), Ruler of the World (2013), Australia (2014), Wings of Eagles (2017), Anthony Van Dyck (2019), Serpentine (2020).

So which were the pick of that marvellous Ballydoyle success story? Here's Planet Sport's take on them.

Galileo (2001)

For all his monumental achievements at stud, let's not forget that the late son of Sadler's Wells was a brilliant performer in his own right.

Romping to a 14-length success on his debut in a Leopardstown maiden in October 2000, he put in an almost flawless three-year-old campaign.

He breezed home by more than three lengths from the eventual St Leger winner Milan in the Listed Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown, to get his Classic campaign off to a flyer.

The Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, over same course and distance, followed. His level of form was already high by the time he turned up at Epsom Downs, where he went off as the 11/4 joint favourite with the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Golan, who had won the 2,000 Guineas.

The market had it spot on for once, with both of the leading players coming home first and second, Galileo leading just over two out and lengthening impressively to win by three and a half lengths under Mick Kinane.

It was a magnificent performance to get the better of what looked a top drawer field on paper, while it was also the widest winning margin for eight years.

Galileo went on to win both the Irish Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, before retirement. He then had a stellar career at stud and, of the many Group 1 winners he sired, he could name the great Frankel in that number.

High Chaparral (2002)

They're like the buses just down the road in London… sometimes you get one great performance followed by another!

This great performance just happened to be by a colt who came from the same stable as Galileo, that of Aidan O'Brien.

He'd posed his intent with high class juvenile campaign that saw him narrowly beaten on debut but then good enough to win the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster (1m, heavy) by this third start.

That set things up for his Classic campaign. Talk of a 2,000 Guineas tilt was ruled out, with connections feeling he'd need further. They got it spot on.

Like Galileo, he went the route of the Listed Ballysax Stakes (won by seven lengths) and the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (won by one length), both over 1m2f, before heading to Epsom

His trainer felt he'd be peaking at the right time and he showed how well he knew the colt, who produced a career-best on the day when it mattered most.

Stable companion Hawk Wing had just routed a field of milers in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and was a warm order to make a successful step up in trip under Mick Kinane.

However, although he stayed, he was outstayed by High Chaparral, who travelled well throughout under Johnny Murtagh and responded well when pressed by the fellow Coolmore-owned companion to open up two lengths on him as they met the rising ground, winning well. There were 12-lengths back to Moon Ballad in third place.

It had been a superb effort and he could afford to run to a level a few pounds inferior when following up in the Irish Derby, before June was out.

He later added two Breeders' Cup Turfs to his CV (the second a dead heat), plus an Irish Champion Stakes, while he was third to Dalakhani in his only attempt at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, in his four-year-old campaign.

Camelot (2012)

It's always good to save your best for the big day and that's precisely what this son of Montjeu did, to give O'Brien a third Derby win, after a 10-year hiatus.

What is more, the colt came into this unbeaten and that's not something you can say about all this trainer's Classic winners.

A precocious two-year-old, he won his Leopardstown maiden and then dotted up in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy.

That resulted in him being made favourite for his reappearance in 2012, the 2,000 Guineas. No horse had won both the Racing Post Trophy and the Guineas since High Top in 1972 but that didn't prevent him being the market leader (in fact, he started favourite in all 10 of his races).

The ground was very much on the soft side on Guineas day that that brought his undoubted stamina into play in beating French Fifteen a neck, in what was a very slow time for the contest. The pair were more than two lengths clear.

That set up Camelot's Derby challenge and, if he could produce what he did over a mile, then the step up to 1m4f for the Blue Riband was a mouthwatering prospect.

So confident was the market that he would win at Epsom Downs, he was made the 8/13 favourite. That looked an absolute gift of a price when, this time on fast ground, he absolutely sluiced up.

Joseph O'Brien never had a moment's worry up top, dropping him in to begin with, then making ground ridiculously easily up the straight. Storming clear as they passed the furlong pole, he won by an eased-down five lengths. It was a remarkable effort.

Although that proved to be the zenith of his performances, he won the Irish Derby next time out and was just held in second in the St Leger, in his quest to be the first triple crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970.

He did race on again at four, winning a Curragh Group 3 but, after being beaten in two more Group 1s, he was retired.

Australia (2014)

Although his best effort was his Juddmonte win at York two months later, the beautifully bred Australia was almost as good when he landed the Epsom spoils from Kingston Hill, another another excellent Joseph O'Brien ride.

Narrowly beaten on debut, he won his only other two juvenile races, his Leopardstown Group 3 success in September 2013 being decisive and promising more at three.

His seasonal reappearance at three was a good one, though he was third in the 2,000 Guineas behind the favourite Kingman (second) and the shock 40/1 winner Night Of Thunder, for Richard Hannon.

However, being out of the wonderful Ouija Board, he was a nailed on certainty to be better over the Derby distance, and so it proved.

Although his success was not as eye-catchingly easy as Camelot's had been, once he took control of the race inside the final quarter-mile, he was never going to be beaten, O'Brien oozing confidence in the saddle and pushing him out to hold off the winner's challenge with a bit tucked up his sleeve. A supreme effort.

Success in the Irish Derby and the Juddmonte followed, before The Grey Gatsby just bettered him in the Champion Stakes and he was duly retired.

Read more: The Epsom Derby 2022 guide: When is it, times, big races, top horses, trainers, jockeys and more

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