He was obviously bristling about the criticism regarding Gleneagles, who he finally allowed take his chance in last Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
O’Brien suffered a frustrating summer with the son of Galileo, as soft ground repeatedly prevented him running the horse.
Indeed, prior to Saturday, Gleneagles hadn’t been seen since winning the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in the middle of June.
The lead into Saturday’s contest was all about whether Gleneagles would actually run and take on the admirable Solow.
I am not at all sure as to who got under O’Brien’s skin the most, but I suspect the Post’s Alastair Down might be high in the list.
Now Down is a top journalist and, to his credit, could never be accused of shirking an issue.
In his offering in Sunday’s Post he said: “Even yesterday (Saturday) his (Gleneagles) participation was in doubt until after the second race.’’
He went on to say that “the dilly-dallying was as unfathomable as it was irritating”.
Down pointed out it left the betting markets in suspension, due to potential deductions.
He concluded with: “Nobody died, but the whole saga has been unedifying.’’
Now that’s his opinion and he is more than entitled to it. But I wonder on occasions does the media, in its efforts to defend punters, often underestimate them.
I know the punters with whom I deal are pretty intelligent and usually prepared to wait until they know just how a race is definitely going to pan out before playing.
Quite frankly, I’m very much on O’Brien’s side with this one.
Of course his “dilly-dallying’’ can be frustrating at times, but we should never lose sight of the fact that his main priority always has to be the welfare of those horses under his care. We are aware if he had taken out Gleneagles on Saturday that morning price punters would have been subject to a big rule 4.
But the world and its mother knew that was a real possibility, so why bet until you know for sure what is happening? Waiting really is surely no more than a minor irritant!
Anyway, in the face of the criticism, David Jennings elicited a response from O’Brien in the Post on Tuesday and when finished reading you almost felt like exclaiming “excellent Aidan.’’
O’Brien said: “Usually the people who are doing the criticising don’t really know what they are talking about. Isn’t that the reality of it?’’
It may not be the entire reality, maestro, but isn’t a million miles off the mark either!
And just how good is Gleneagles really? Ground or no ground, he could only finish sixth behind Solow at Ascot and that was disappointing.
He is clearly a very good horse, as evidenced by successes in the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, as well as the St James’ Palace at Royal Ascot.
But his overall form is a long way from being rock solid and Gleneagles still has lots to prove.
And, of course, the only way to prove just how good he may be is to keep him in training as a four-year-old.
There’s no bigger fan of Ryan Moore’s than I and if he’s not the best Flat jockey in the world right now then I’d love to know who’s better.
That, however, should not exempt him from criticism and I thought his ride on Found in Saturday’s main course at Ascot, the Champion Stakes, left a fair bit to be desired.
Moore used exaggerated waiting tactics and Found was last of the 13 runners turning for home.
Now Ascot is a short enough straight and the real estate doesn’t half disappear rather quickly.
In the end, Found claimed second, a length and a quarter adrift of Fascinating Rock, and you could argue that whatever way was ridden wouldn’t have won anyway.
Fair enough, but if Joseph O’Brien had done the same thing as Moore there is every chance would have been pilloried by the British-press and, possibly, here as well.
I nearly fell off the chair watching Fascinating Rock bounding away.
There was no evidence, at least none that I could see, to indicate he was capable of winning this.
It reminded one of the tale of the Irish trainer, who shall remain nameless, many years ago who was in before the stewards and asked to explain the improvement in a horse of his that had just landed a touch.
“Gee’’, said your man, “I was under the impression that it was my job to improve my horses.’’
Well, Dermot Weld didn’t half work the oracle to get Fascinating Rock to reveal his true identity on the day that really counted.
Fascinating Rock may have been impressive when winning by six lengths at Leopardstown previously, but there was no comparison between that Group 3 and what he achieved at Ascot.