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Is red-hot York favorite Paddington as good as Aidan O’Brien’s ‘iron horse’ Giant’s Causeway?

As hard as we try, comparing top athletes from different generations doesn't get any easier.

Who knows how George Best would have fared against the likes of Messi and Ronaldo if he had been born 40 years later.

Paddington has earned comparisons to Giant's Causeway


Paddington has earned comparisons to Giant's CausewayPhoto credit: Getty
Giant's Causeway (right) dominated the Flat in 2000


Giant's Causeway (right) dominated the Flat in 2000Credit: PA:Press Association

What would Don Bradman's career have been like in the Bazball era and was he as good as Brian Lara?

As much as we'd love to dig up and revive Brigadier Gerard, put Frankel on the treadmill for a few weeks, and then pit them against each other to see who's the best, we can't do it.

The improved use of science and new technologies mean that most sports are no longer recognizable by their roots in the last century.

The same is true of horse racing, a sport that has more variables than most, from the terrain to the pace of a race to the amount of weight a horse must carry.


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Still, the similarities between Paddington and Giant's Causeway are striking.

I've been lucky enough to see Ballydoyle's latest sensation up close and personal at each of his last three rounds at Royal Ascot, Sandown and Goodwood.

Winning the Sussex Stakes at the latter made him the first horse since the Giant, as Aidan O'Brien calls him, in 2000 to win the race after victories at St James's Palace and Eclipse.

Unfortunately I was too young to see Giant's Causeway, the original “Iron Horse”, in person.

But after watching the video of each of his wins a few times, I can understand that this was a horse whose top-notch ability was matched only by his will to win.

I mean, you must be very special to be one of the few to have a statue erected in your honor in Ballydoyle – at the end of O'Brien's driveway.

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If Paddington carries on as before, they will carve out a life-size sculpture of him as well.

Chiseled is the optimal word as this horse is stunning every time you see him, even in a field of good looking Group 1 horses.

He was incredibly impressive when he won the St James's Palace Stakes by beating Guinea's heroes Chaldean by three lengths.

Giant's Causeway never did anything like it as a three-year-old, with his widest winning margin being just three-quarters of a length in five wins.

He was a street fighter – if he were human he would be the guy who deliberately knocks over his beer in a pub to start a fight.

Paddington, on the other hand, is more graceful, has flashy toes, and is more likely to blow your mind with a sophisticated upper cut than having a barstool slung over your head.

Until he traveled to Sandown for the Coral Eclipse and was there forced to dig deeper than ever before by Emily Upjohn, the best filly.

This is when comparisons began between him and Giant's Causeway, who beat Kalanisi by a margin 23 years ago in the same race.

And earlier in the month they picked it up again at Goodwood when Paddington topped the Sussex Stakes in Somme-like conditions.

Frankie Dettori delivered the win far from home on Inspiral – later an easy winner of a Group 1 in France – but Paddington fought back and still had enough energy to beat a French challenger at the last minute and narrowly gain a length.

This was the Giant's Causeway everywhere.

Being forced to go flat out about a half-mile from the test site would have broken many top three-year-olds, but not Paddington.

And after that race, O'Brien, who doesn't like to compare his stars if he can help it, addressed the question on everyone's lips.

He said: “They are similar, although Paddington is much faster than the Giant.

“He is tactically fast and can also be twice as fast as we saw today when the French horse came at him.

“The giant was tactically fast and was grumpy afterwards. He really wanted to win.”

And it's the ability to go faster than once in a race that makes Paddington special.

Is it more special than Giant's Causeway?

Well, he won the Irish 2000 Guineas and the Iron Horse was turned over a few weeks after he also finished second in the English Guineas.

But as the season progressed, Giant's Causeway continued to improve, beating old rivals Kalanisi in today's big race, the Juddmonte International, before catching up at the Irish Champion just a few weeks later.

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He won a total of six Group 1 victories and should have ended his career with a famous win in the Breeders' Cup Classic… had it not been for legendary sportsman Mick Kinane getting his whip on the reins nearby, he probably would have.

So Paddington is firmly on his way – but if he really wants to be the next Iron Horse, he must pass his biggest test yet in York.


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