Racing Post Trophy Preview & Tips: Johnny be good at 16/1

Favourites have often triumphed in the Racing Post Trophy (3.50pm, Doncaster, Saturday) but with no clear market leader, this looks to be the most open renewal of the Group 1 horse race for two-year-olds for many seasons.

Among the market leaders is Charlie Appleby’s Pinzolo (7/2). This son of Monsun is unbeaten in his two starts. Both have been over a mile and his latest win was on soft ground at Newbury. He beat Ed Dunlop’s Red Galileo by a head in a conditions stakes on 20 September.

joseph obrien
Joseph O’Brien: Chosen Century of the stable trio

While this colt is proven over a mile and can obviously perform with give in the ground, it is difficult to assess the value of the form.  None of the horses he has beaten have looked to be anything other than very ordinary since.

Aidan O’Brien has an impressive record in this race. He has sent out the winner in three of the past four renewals and has a total of seven wins. His recent winners have all been sent out as fairly short-priced favourites. Kingsbarns, last year’s winner was the most generously priced of them at 15/8.

The betting market does not suggest great confidence in any of his three runners this year. Century (4/1) is the most fancied of them, probably because his son Joseph has chosen to partner him. While he rarely picks the donkey of the string, he doesn’t always get it right either.

This son of Montjeu won his only outing in a maiden run over a mile at the Curragh on 13 October. He beat the 15/8 favourite, John Oxx’s Marakoush by one and a half lengths on good ground. He cannot have shown anything special at home or he would not have started at 11/4. His pedigree suggests that a slower surface will suit him.

Ryan Moore takes the ride on his stablemate, Johann Strauss (14/1). He came fourth in a maiden over a mile at Newmarket on October 5. He subsequently went down to Ger Lyons’ Sniper by a neck at Naas on October 20 over seven furlongs on soft ground. As a son of High Chaparral (the winner of this race in 2001 for O’Brien), he should not lack stamina but has yet to show the turn of foot necessary to win in this standard of company. It seems highly unlikely that he has acquired it in the week since his last run.

The third Ballydoyle representative, Buonarroti (16/1), will also be having his third run. He came fourth in a maiden on his debut at Galway and followed up with a win in a similar contest with 15 runners on October 6 at Tipperary. He won easily by over eight lengths in yielding ground, beating Jim Bolger’s Evason. That was over a mile and a furlong.

This son of Galileo is long on stamina and copes with soft ground but, with Paul Hanagan getting the leg up, the yard seem to think that the other two have stronger claims.

Another runner with form in mud is Sir Michael Stoute’s Snow Sky (12/1). He won his maiden at the third attempt at the beginning of this month at Salisbury over a mile. He stayed on well in heavy ground to beat Seamus Mullins’ Ultimate Act by eleven lengths.  This son of Nayef could provide his trainer with his second Racing Post Trophy winner but, currently rated 89, he has considerable improvement to find to give him a chance here.

The most exposed colt in the race is Mark Johnston’s Somewhat (8/1) with five runs under his belt. Now rated 112, he has been runner up in two Group 2 races. Most recently he finished a quarter of a length behind Paul Cole’s Berkshire in the Juddmonte at Newmarket last month.  He has only once finished out of the first two but is yet to encounter going slower than good. His sire, Dynaformer, has thrown plenty that can handle cut in the ground so there is no reason to write him off.

Since the ante-post favourite, Toormore, was dropped from Saturday’s line up due to the soft ground, Richard Hannon’s hopes rest with Chief Barker 8/1. This son of Azamour is unbeaten in his three starts, all over a mile.

He beat Charles Hills’ Chriselliam (who went on to win the Group 1 Fillies Mile) by a neck in his latest outing in a listed race at Haydock on September 7. That was on good to soft and the stable are confident that conditions will suit him. His other wins were in a Sandown maiden and a handicap with small margins of victory, gaining him a rating of 103. That suggests he has to find further improvement to feature here.

The only other contender to have earned an official rating is Kevin Ryan’s The Grey Gatsby (16/1). Ryan saddled the 20/1 outsider, Palace Episode, who won on heavy ground in 2005. Having won his first start in a median auction maiden he was sent straight into Group 3 company at York in late August. He was second by a neck to Henry Candy’s Treaty Of Paris. It was a Group 2 next for this son of Mastercraftsman. He came three lengths second to Charlie Appleby’s Outstrip in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in mid-September on good to soft ground.

This is his first attempt at a mile but his last two runs suggest that he might benefit from an additional furlong. Heavy ground did not stop his sire winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas. Partnered as always by the talented ex-jump jockey Graham Lee, he is now rated 108 and is one for the shortlist.

Another son of Mastercraftsman with a big chance is Roger Varian’s Kingston Hill (7/2). He is unbeaten in his two starts. He won his maiden on soft ground at Newbury on September 21, beating Richard Hannon’s odds-on favourite, Exchequer, by one and a half lengths.  He went on to win the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket on October 12 on good to soft over a mile. He beat O’Brien’s 6/5 favourite, Oklahoma City by two lengths.

Johnny Murtagh’s Altruistic (16/1) has also only had two outings. He won his maiden on yielding ground over seven furlongs in August and followed up by coming third by two lengths in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes at the Curragh on September 29. He finished three quarters of a length behind Oklahoma City, suggesting that Kingston Hill has stronger claims.

Logic suggests that this son of Galileo is best ignored, until you remember his trainer’s recent exploits when bringing Andrew Tinkler’s horses across the Irish Sea. He sent out Royal Diamond to win and Belle De Crecy to come second on Champions Day at Ascot. Murtagh’s recent record at home is pretty impressive too.

Racing Post Trophy Betting Tips Verdict

Most of these relatively unexposed two-year-olds are open to improvement, making it a hard race to call. The Ballydoyle trio may be best ignored as they have not attracted the support that usually accompanies exceptional talent from the stable.

Pinzolo and Kingston Hill have reasonable claims but look to provide little value. The Grey Gatsby looks more appealing but I would suggest following the trainer (and jockey) in outstanding form and go for Johnny Murtagh’s ALTRUISTIC each-way at 16/1 with Bet365, Betfred or BetVictor.