Churchill named Aidan O’Brien’s 9th European Champion 2 year old

Updated: February 2, 2017
Irish Oaks day

Churchill, with a rating of 122, is the ninth European champion two-year-old to be trained by Aidan O’Brien in the past 18 years according to the European two-year-old Classification 2016 which was recently published.

In winning both the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at The Curragh and the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, he follows in the footsteps of previous champions Air Force Blue (124), Dawn Approach (124), New Approach (126) and Teofilo (123), all of whom won both of these races en route to becoming the continent’s leading juvenile.

Aidan O’Brien would also have been responsible for the top three juvenile fillies were it not for the exploits of the outstanding Lady Aurelia (121), who missed out only narrowly on being rated Europe’s first female two-year-old champion since Ravinella shared top honours with Warning back in 1987. Nevertheless, she is rated the best two-year-old filly in more than a decade, having produced one of the most memorable performances since Arazi when smashing both the opposition and the clock in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. That 121-rated performance is trumped only by Queen’s Logic’s 2001 success in the Cheveley Park (122) in the fillies’ division in the last 24 years.

O’Brien is responsible for five of the top 10 horses on the list in a strong year for Ireland. Despite Group 1 successes for The Last Lion, Wuheida, Rivet and Thunder Snow it has been a below-par year for British-trained two-year-olds with 19 inclusions coming up some way short of the recent average of 25. With lots of the more powerful stables having reported sickness issues through the summer it could well be that many of the better prospects did not run as frequently as they might have. Thunder Snow (118) sets the benchmark in Britain, having shown his best form when winning the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud by 5 lengths.

Ten inclusions represents something of a comeback year for the French and National Defense (118) emerged as the French champion two-year-old after a difficult year for his trainer Criquette Head-Maarek when running away with the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere.

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