'The worst we've ever had' - Aidan O'Brien on the bug that has hit yard form
A respiratory illness that has afflicted Ballydoyle this season is the worst trainer Aidan O’Brien has known in his time at the stable.
The record-breaking trainer believes his string are coming out the other side of the problem, but admitted his horses are not as fit as they would normally be at this time of the season as a result of having to be patient while they worked through the flu-like symptoms.
Fairyland got O’Brien on the board for the week at York on Thursday when getting back up to pip The Mackem Bullet in the Group 2 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes, during which Ryan Moore reported the juvenile took a big blow with two furlongs to go.
That came as no surprise to O’Brien, who said he had little choice but to wait for the horses to come right, leaving them short of peak fitness compared to this point in previous years.
O’Brien’s strike-rate in Britain this year is just nine per cent with his lowest figure for the previous five seasons being 14 per cent in 2014. Last year, when he broke the worldwide record for Group/Grade 1 wins, it was 19 per cent.
"It’s the worst we’ve had of this at Ballydoyle but we’re not complaining because it happens to everybody. It can travel in the air so if one sneezes it can travel 100 yards in the air to others. That’s just the way it is and it’s just something that everybody has to deal with.
“The horses aren’t where they’d normally be at this time of the year but we’re not panicking and there’s plenty of time yet – the year’s not over at all."
“You have to have patience and you have to take it race-by-race, horse-by-horse. Some can keep going all the way through it so don’t lose as much fitness and others you just have to be patient and wait. And then when you’re easy on them they’re obviously not going to come back at fit.
"Fortunately the lads are very patient and there’s never been any pressure to get the horses running before they’re ready."
O'Brien added: “The important thing is that they don’t relapse. [Saxon Warrior] was sick enough after the Eclipse and he’ll have improved again for that run yesterday. The thing with these colts is that you have to be running in these races and you need it to bring them on too.”
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