Edited from a release
This year's £200,000 Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I) at Doncaster on Saturday, Oct.25 will be of the highest class after 39 entries stood their ground at the forfeit stage for the group I contest on Oct. 8.
With unusual form, Aidan O'Brien, who has trained the winners of the Racing Post Trophy on four occasions--Brian Boru last season, High Chaparral in 2001, Aristotle in 1999 and Saratoga Springs in 1997--has yet to win a two-year-old listed or group contest in Britain this season and Ireland's champion trainer will be hoping to break that drought with one of his 20 remaining entries in what is a favorite race.
The Ballydoyle battallion is headed by Grand Reward, who was the two-length sixth behind Three Valleys in the group I Shadwell Stud Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket last week, with stable companion Old Deuteronomy a length further back in seventh, while Antonius Pius was successful in the group II Anheuser Busch Railway Stakes at the Curragh on his last start in June, and Magritte, described by his handler as 'a beauty' could be anything after a five-length victory on his racecourse debut in a Tipperary maiden in July. Other debut winners O'Brien has under consideration are Five Dynasties, Go For Gold and Wolfe Tone.
Should any O'Brien contestant win the Racing Post Trophy, it may pay to follow their 3-year-old career extremely closely. High Chaparral went on to become a dual Derby winner in Britain and Ireland, as well as taking the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Arlington Park, while Brian Boru returned in great style at Doncaster to justify favoritism in this year's St Leger on September 13.
Newmarket trainer Michael Jarvis today revealed that Sabbeeh could take on the might of O'Brien at Town Moor, although the Red Ransom colt's participation depends what the weather does in the next 2 1/2 weeks.
He is considering three contests for the winner of two of his three races, the Racing Post Trophy, the Dewhurst at Newmarket and the Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury.
"I think if we get some rain Sabbeeh will probably go for the Dewhurst Stakes. If we don't, then he'll have the option of the Racing Post Trophy or the Horris Hill," explained the handler.
Sabbeeh was the comfortable 2 1/2 length winner over New Mexican in the McKeever St. Lawrence Conditions Stakes at Doncaster on September 10, having bounced back from a disappointment when favorite on his previous start behind Three Valleys in the group III Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. He had earlier won a Ripon maiden by 13 lengths on his racecourse bow.
"Sabbeeh is perfectly fine and it was on the soft side of good on the first day of the St Leger Meeting at Doncaster," continued Jarvis. "When he won his maiden at Ripon in the spring it was very soft, so he's obviously effective on soft ground."
Sir Michael Stoute broke the recent O'Brien stranglehold on this contest when Dilshaan was successful in 2000. That winner was owned by Saeed Suhail, who took this year's Vodafone Derby with Kris Kin, and these connections could be represented by Always First and Imperial Stride.
The former won a conditions race at Sandown on his only start in August, while Imperial Stride is unbeaten in two outings including when proving five lengths too powerful for White Hawk in the skybet.com Conditions Stakes at Doncaster in July. Stoute's other possible North Light, owned by the executors of the late Lord Weinstock, improved on his debut second to win a Goodwood maiden last month at long odds-on.
Other remaining horses include the Marcus Tregoning-trained Snow Ridge, the winner of the group II Hackney Empire Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot on Sept. 27 when getting the better of O'Brien's Moscow Ballet by three-quarters of a length, the Dermot Weld-trained pair of Grey Swallow, an impressive Galway maiden scorer, and Leopardstown winner Relaxed Gesture, and the Mark Johnston-trained trio of Lucky Story, whose two group II successes include the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month, Pearl Of Love, third behind One Cool Cat in the National Stakes (Ire-I) at the Curragh, and Duke Of Venice, a 13-length winner of a Sandown maiden.
THE RACING POST TROPHY
Class A, group I, £200,000 Total Prize Fund. 3.05pm, Doncaster, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003. For 2yo entire colts & fillies, one mile. Entries closed Aug. 20 (83 entries), forfeit stage Oct. 7 (39 entries remain), £17,500 supplementary entry stage Oct. 20, five-day confirmation stage Oct. 20, final declaration stage 10.00am, Oct. 23. Horse, Owner, Trainer
ACROPOLIS (IRE), Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
AKIMBO (USA), Khalid Abdullah, Henry Cecil
ALWAYS FIRST, Saeed Suhail, Sir Michael Stoute
AMALIE BAY (IRE), Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
ANCHOR, Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
ANTONIUS PIUS (USA), Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
BAYEUX (USA), Sheikh Mohammed, David Loder
CELTIC CAT (IRE), Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor, Aidan O'Brien
COBRA (IRE), Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor, Aidan O'Brien
DESTINATION DUBAI (USA), Sheikh Mohammed, David Loder
DUKE OF VENICE (USA), Sheikh Mohammed, Mark Johnston
ESPERANTO (IRE), Sue Magnier & Robert Sangster, Aidan O'Brien
FIVE DYNASTIES (USA), Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor, Aidan O'Brien
GLENCAIRN STAR, Frank Brady, Jim Goldie
GO FOR GOLD, Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
GRAND REWARD (USA), Michael Tabor, Sue Magnier & Beverley Lewis, Aidan O'Brien
GREY SWALLOW (IRE), Rochelle Quinn, Dermot Weld
IMPERIAL STRIDE, Saeed Suhail, Sir Michael Stoute
KING HESPERUS (USA), Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
LET THE LION ROAR, Neil Jones, John Dunlop
LUCKY STORY (USA), Abdullah BuHaleeba, Mark Johnston
MAGRITTE (IRE), Sue Magnier & Mrs. David Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
MIKADO , Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor, Aidan O'Brien
MOSCOW BALLET (IRE), Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
NEWTON (IRE), Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor, Aidan O'Brien
NORTH LIGHT (IRE), Exors of the late Lord Weinstock, Sir Michael Stoute
OLD DEUTERONOMY (USA), Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
PATRIXTOO (FR), Pat Betts, Mark Tompkins
PEARL OF LOVE (IRE), Mick Doyle, Mark Johnston
RELAXED GESTURE (IRE), Moyglare Stud Farms Ltd., Dermot Weld
SABBEEH (USA), Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, Michael Jarvis
SGT PEPPER (IRE), A.T. Macdonald, Richard Hannon
SNOW RIDGE (IRE), Exors of the late Lord Weinstock, Marcus Tregoning
TAHREEB (FR), Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, Marcus Tregoning
THAJJA (IRE), Hamdan Al Maktoum, John Dunlop
THE MIGHTY TIGER (USA), Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
TROUBADOUR (IRE), Robert Sangster & Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
TYCOON , Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
WOLFE TONE (IRE), Sue Magnier, Aidan O'Brien
39 entries remain after October 7 forfeit stage