Doncaster preview: Aidan O'Brien seeking history as Classic crew go on trial

Sat 28 Oct 2017
Aidan O'Brien - Newmarket - Racingfotos

By staff

Aidan O'Brien has four chances to break the world record for the number of Group One winners in a year in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday.

Having drawn level with the late Bobby Frankel on Champions Day at Ascot last weekend through Hydrangea, the master of Ballydoyle now has his sights set on an incredible 26th top-level winner of 2017.

Two of his runners, Saxon Warrior, a son of Deep Impact and the choice of Ryan Moore, and The Pentagon, currently dominate the betting for the Investec Derby next year, while a third, Seaheange, won the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster's St Leger meeting

"Saxon Warrior seems to be in good form since Naas. Hopefully the ground will be nice there," said O'Brien.

Of Seahenge, who subsequently finished third in the Dewhurst when he suffered a trouble passage, he said: "Obviously he only ran (recently) in the Dewhurst, but he seems to be in good form since.

"The Pentagon has had a bit of a break since his run the last time in the Tyros. He seems to be in good form and is just ready to start back."

Coat Of Arms is the fourth runner, although he looks up against it on his form so far. "He's in good form. He had a good run when second in the Futurity and is stepping up to a mile now," said O'Brien.

Ryan Moore partners Saxon Warrior and said: "He's a really nice colt. He was very impressive on debut and he won well at Naas. The fourth and fifth have both come out and won Listed contests since, so the form is very good.

"I think he's a lovely colt and hopefully he's got an exciting future. It's a good race, but I'm sure he'll run well."

Asked about O'Brien's record attempt, Moore said: "The important (thing) is winning the race."

Despite the two Ballydoyle youngsters heading the market for next year's Classic, there is a runner in the race who has achieved more on the track this year in the shape of Jim Bolger's Verbal Dexterity.

He has a Group One win to his name in the National Stakes but was supposed to be in the Dewhurst only to be ruled out with a dirty scope.

"I'm very much looking forward to it," said Bolger. "Obviously he couldn't run in the Dewhurst because his scope wasn't 100 per cent, but he's ready again now. The ground looks like being good so there's no problems on that score. Hopefully he'll win again, we'll give it our best shot."

John Gosden has enjoyed a fruitful autumn with Enable and Cracksman and aims to sign off in style with the unbeaten Roaring Lion, who is owned by Qatar Racing.

Racing manager David Redvers told "He seems to have improved throughout the season. We had the option of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, but Mr Gosden felt very strongly that if the ground at Doncaster was reasonable then he would like to go there.

"We won the race with Elm Park three years ago and had a great day up there. Roaring Lion is very different to Elm Park, but goes to Doncaster with a stronger chance, if anything. I'm very optimistic."

Charlie Appleby, who has enjoyed an incredible season with his juveniles, has supplemented the once-raced Loxley."I was pleased with his work on Wednesday. I know it is a step up for him, but we feel he won't look out of place and hopefully he can run into a place," said Appleby.

"He came out of Goodwood so well and looking at him as an individual he looks so well and his work has been good since, it is just trying to get a level on him for next season."

Jim Crowley rides the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Gabr, second on his first two starts before breaking his maiden at Yarmouth. "I rode him work last week and he went really well," Crowley told At The Races. "He's getting better with experience, the horse he beat (Istanbul Sultan) came out and won at Goodwood, so he's going the right way.

"I thought he worked super, but it's a different ball game going into a Group One."

Martyn Meade's Chilean won a Listed event last time out, but the trainer was hoping for softer ground to level the playing field. "If it had been proper soft ground it would have just inconvenienced some of the others and we know ours handles it," said Meade.

"He did win fairly comfortably at Haydock, but he does need to step up as it looks an exceptionally tough renewal, certainly compared to last year. The ground being good means those well-bred horses will be more at home, but we can't do anything about that."

For all the latest odds plus hints and tips for The Racing Post Trophy, click here

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