The final Group 1 race of the season, the Racing Post Trophy, has been dominated by Aidan O’Brien in recent years and this year the Irish trainer is responsible for three of the seven runners (3.45 Saturday at Doncaster live on CH4 TV).
If the bookmakers are to be believed, Deauville (7/2) appears to be O’Brien’s best chance of winning the race for the eighth time. But the Galileo colt may have his work cut out to reverse earlier form when he was runner-up behind Foundation (evens). John Gosden’s (pictured) colt looked value for more than the winning margin when staying on to win the Royal Lodge Stakes by three-quarters-of-a-length on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket exactly four weeks ago.
Foundation didn’t see a racecourse until August, but has won all three starts over a mile with a minimum of fuss, including on the prevailing good to soft going and clearly sets the standard.
Johannes Vermeer (8/1) appears to be the Ballydoyle second string, but was only beaten 1½ lengths when fourth, and starting as favourite, in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp three weeks ago and is clearly no slouch. The form of his previous win in the Willis Champion Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown has also worked out well, so he could be the one to take advantage if the principals fail to fire.
Tony Curtis (9/1), trained by Richard Hannon, has won two of his three starts and appreciated the step up to a mile when comfortably winning a small Listed race at Salisbury when last seen in August. The son of Rock of Gibraltar has yet to race on ground softer than good and has an absence of two months to overcome but, while he is yet to win a Group race, it would be unwise to write him off altogether.
Mengli Khan (10/1), trained by Hugo Palmer, attempts to emulate two of Aidan O’Brien’s recent Racing Post Trophy winners, Kingsbarns and Camelot, having only broken his maiden at Nottingham earlier this month. The son of French 2,000 Guineas and French Derby winner Lope De Vega won impressively on that occasion and, in so doing, proved his effectiveness on soft, so is another who has a squeak. He has been quietly nibbled at in the Racing Post Trophy betting market and not without reason.
A line through True Solitaire suggests that Port Douglas (20/1) has a length or so to find with Johannes Vermeer so, while he is definitely the Ballydoyle third-string as far as the betting market is concerned, his chance may not be as forlorn as his odds suggest. The Galileo colt appreciated the step up to a mile and the switch to forcing tactics when rallying to win the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh last month and fully deserves his place in the field. It wouldn’t be the first time an O’Brien third-string ran a blinder in a Group 1 race.
The only other member of this select field of seven is Marcel (50/1). He hacked up in a Newcastle maiden last time on only his second start. At 26,000 guineas, this was a fairly cheap yearling and he appears to be outclassed. That said, although trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam is far from the force of old these days, they say form is temporary while class is permanent and he has always known what a good horse looks like on the gallops.
Our Preview’s Racing Post Trophy Verdict
The betting suggests that the Racing Post Trophy is a two-horse race, but it’s impossible to write off any of the runners with any degree of confidence. Our preview’s Racing Post Trophy betting tips advice is to back JOHANNES VERMEER to win at best odds of 9/1 with Stan James Bookmaker. He is the only one in the field with form at the highest level and was not beaten far by some of the best juveniles in Europe at Longchamp last time.