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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Hydrangea wins British Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot to see Aidan O'Brien equal Bobby Frankel's Group 1 record

The bay filly by Galileo, tackling the 2,400-metre distance for the first time, was an impressive winner under Ryan Moore, giving the Irish trainer his 25th Group 1 success of the season

Trainer Aidan O'Brien, right, is congratulated after Hydrangea landed the British Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot, a victory that means the Irish trainer has equalled the record for 25 Group 1 winners in a season alongside American trainer Bobby Frankel. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
Trainer Aidan O'Brien, right, is congratulated after Hydrangea landed the British Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot, a victory that means the Irish trainer has equalled the record for 25 Group 1 winners in a season alongside American trainer Bobby Frankel. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

Aidan O’Brien equalled American trainer Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group 1 winners in a season after Hydrangea landed the British Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The bay filly by Galileo, tackling the 2,400-metre distance for the first time, was an impressive winner under Ryan Moore. The jockey had to bring her widest on the final bend and she stayed on strongly to win by two lengths from Bateel, trained by Francis-Henri Graffard in France for the Abu Dhabi owners Al Asayl Stables.

O’Brien missed out on equalling the record earlier in the day when Johannes Vermeer was caught up in traffic before eventually finishing third behind Boom Time in the Caulfield Cup in Melbourne.

The Irishman began the British Champions Day meeting by taking the Group 2 Long Distance Cup with Order Of St George. He sent out Caravaggio to finish third in the Group 1 Sprint in the next race before Hydrangea’s victory.

O’Brien was his usual modest self when asked what it mean to equal Frankel's 14-year-old record.

“It's incredible for everyone, everyone puts in a lot of hard work day in, day out,” he told reporters.

“We're a small link in a big chain and I'm delighted for everyone - it's a magic, special day. The chain is so long and we're so glad to be a little link in it.”

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Moore was full of praise for winning filly Hydrangea.

“This year's been remarkable,” he said. “This filly has been on the go all year and has been getting better and better. I'm delighted for her and delighted for Aidan.”

O’Brien can move out on his own as the trainer with most Group 1 wins in a single season in the coming week with entries in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday and two Group 1 prizes in France on Sunday.

Librisa Breeze had earlier won the Champions Sprint to give jockey Robert Winston and trainer Dean Ivory the biggest wins of their careers.

Godolphin’s Harry Angel, bidding for a third successive Group 1 prize, could finish only fourth behind Librisa Breeze, Tasleet in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, and Caravaggio.

The son of Dark Angel appeared a little worked up before being loaded and then reared at the start. His trainer Clive Cox said the soft underfoot conditions were to be blame for his charge's disappointment run.

“He still showed his usual zip and class when he went to the front but this was more testing ground than Haydock,” Cox said.

“This was a different day on different ground and we came to the end of our run there visibly.”

Frankie Dettori scooped up the two remaining Group 1 prizes – the Queen Elizabeth II and the Champions Stakes – on the John Gosden-trained pair Persuasive and Cracksman respectively.

Persuasive denied Godolphin’s Ribchester by a length while Cracksman ran an impressive seven-length winner over Poet’s World in the silks of Dubai businessman Saeed Suhail and the O’Brien-trained Highland Reel.

“She's such a tough filly and it's a fantastic way for her to end her racing career,” Gosden said of Persuasive, a four-year-old daughter of Dark Angel.

“She had to be switched inside and out but she just kept finding. She really likes this cut in the ground.”

On Cracksman, he added: “He is very talented; Frankie rode him beautifully and positively.”