Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Belisarius can make O'Brien history boy

Reigning champion jockey Joseph O'Brien is tipped to crown his whirlwind ascent up the ranks with a record-breaking triumph aboard Belisarius at Navan this afternoon.

After accumulating a record tally en route to his second apprentices' title in 2011, the talented 20-year-old, who has become such a trusty ally on the big days for his father Aidan's Ballydoyle bluebloods, quickly graduated to the top of the senior riders' pile last term.

However, the 87 domestic wins that he amassed in 2012 has been eclipsed by this year's 114 turf successes, a colossal figure that only the iconic Mick Kinane has managed before.

Indeed, in a glorious 35-year career, Kinane achieved that 1993 pinnacle just once. Needless to say, O'Brien has been privy to an elite team of horses this term, but the assured and hasty manner in which he has emulated that remarkable feat is a testament to his fantastic ability.

While he will have chances to claim sole ownership of the record aboard Sardinia and the potentially well-named Marvellous, it is Belisarius that is fancied to carry the 20-year-old into the history books in the juvenile maiden that was won by Kingsbarns in 2012.

On his recent Gowran Park debut, Belisarius ran with promise to be fifth, despite nearly falling inside the distance. He may need to improve on that to score here, but the chances are that he will.

O'Brien might also take the finale on Deep Speed for Paul Hickey. On paper, there is little to choose between Tonabrocky, Rupa and Vote Of Confidence at their respective bests in this. The key to Deep Speed, though, is a return to 10 furlongs.

Previously, Tonabrocky and Vote Of Confidence were behind when he finished second to Victory Song over this trip at the Curragh, so his form is solid.

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