With Farhh landing the ante-post spoils in the Champion Stakes last week, Timeform's Matt Gardner reinvests some of the profit in Saturday's Racing Post Trophy...
"Pinzolo clearly boasts an abundance of potential for next year, particularly when tried over further, but he also looks capable of making an impact at this level at the early stage of his career..."
Aidan O'Brien has saddled the winner of the Racing Post Trophy a staggering seven times since 1997 and three times in the last four years, with High Chaparral, Brian Boru, St Nicholas Abbey and Camelot all going on to enjoy tremendously successful careers after their triumphs in the final Group 1 of the British Flat season.
When looking at the initial entries for the top races throughout the season, particularly those for juveniles, O'Brien is often mob-handed and the biggest conundrum is not working out who will win but who will run. His tactics in this race in the last few years have been a little different however, as it has been clear just who his most exciting two-year-old is and that is the one that has run and won, aside from in 2010 when he lacked a standout contender and elected to send both Seville and Master of Hounds.
For all that there isn't a great deal separating his four entries on the Timeform weight-adjusted ratings for the 2013 renewal of this race, O'Brien, 'the lads' and the Betfair market all appear to be pretty clear on who his main contender is, namely Century who was supplemented at a cost of £17,500 on Monday.
In comparison to recent winners St Nicholas Abbey, Camelot and Kingsbarns, who were all 'hype' horses coming into this race, little had been made of Century prior to his maiden win at the Curragh and he isn't an obvious star on pedigree, particularly when compared with a number of his stablemates who are more obvious candidates on paper. Century made an impressive debut nonetheless, seeing off a promising fellow newcomer of John Oxx's with a strong late run inside the final furlongs, shaping as one that will stay at least 10 furlongs.
Now I don't want to sound negative about an Aidan O'Brien-trained Racing Post Trophy horse, his record in this race alone suggest it is unwise to be so, but I just can't have Century at his current price. The present standing of his stablemates Red Rocks Point, Johann Strauss and Buonarroti in the Betfair market suggests that they are unlikely runners, and it may be that we have to look away from Ballydoyle for our ante-post bet.
The highest rated two-year-old by Timeform at this stage of the season is Toormore, and he is highly likely to end the year at the top of that list unless something comes out and thumps this field by a furlong. Toormore, who beat the well-regarded Ertijaal on debut at Leicester, has enjoyed a fantastic first season, value for plenty extra over the bare result when beating Outstrip in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood and then posting an authoritative performance in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh, beating a field that contained Sudirman and Giovanni Boldini.
If Toormore runs then he is by far the most likely winner but he is not certain to line-up, with the Middleham Park syndicate expressing doubts as to his participation in recent weeks. Richard Hannon jnr said recently that both him and stablemate Chief Barker, owned by a separate syndication within Middleham Park, could head to Doncaster but, with his involvement still up in the air, Toormore does not look ante-post material.
Whilst on the topic, what of Chief Barker? Well, like Toormore he is unbeaten in three starts, albeit at a lower level, supplementing his Sandown maiden win with success in a Newmarket nursery and then taking another step forward to beat subsequent Fillies' Mile winner Chriselliam in a listed event at Haydock. Connections are pretty certain that Chief Barker will be impervious to the underfoot conditions at Doncaster but the worry is that it may not be until next year, over middle distances, that we see the best of him.
Given the nature of this race a similar comment can apply to plenty of these when judged on pedigree, but one that has shaped almost as though he were in need of middle distances was Kingston Hill, another who has been supplemented for this race. He did well to win the Group 3 Autumn Stakes, relishing the step up to a mile as expected, but the way in which he went through that race, travelling a little in snatches and finding plenty to lead close home, suggested that 10 furlongs and upwards would be his bag.
Kingston Hill's lack of fluency could of course be put down to residual greenness, being just two races into his career, but I'm more inclined to think that he is one for next year rather than Town Moor on October 26.
Another whose page screams middle distances is Pinzolo, a two-year-old by Monsun who hails from the Charlie Appleby half of Godolphin's UK operation. Pinzolo fetched 400,000 gns as a yearling at Tattersalls and created an excellent impression when overlooked by Mickael Barzalona on debut at Newmarket, beating stablemate Sudden Wonder by a length and a half despite the odd display of greenness.
Barzalona must really have something against Pinzolo as he tried his upmost to get him beaten in the Haynes, Hanson & Clark conditions event at Newbury last month, finding himself a little way back and shaking up the juvenile only to then direct him up the backside of a couple in front. Forced to switch, Pinzolo dug Barzalona out of a gargantuan hole as he picked up readily for pressure to mow down the game Red Galileo on the line.
Pinzolo clearly boasts an abundance of potential for next year, particularly when tried over further, but he also looks capable of making an impact at this level at the early stage of his career. He needs to improve to challenge a couple of these, particularly if Toormore does line up, but Pinzolo is just one of those horses that has created a favourable impression with me and I'd be disappointed were he not in the shake-up at the very least.
Mark Johnston's Somewhat has already done plenty this year but he comes out second best on the Timeform ratings and would probably be better suited to the softer conditions rather than those faced when second to Berkshire in the Royal Lodge, whilst The Grey Gatsby, though without excuses when beaten by Outstrip last time, remains with potential and strikes as the type to flourish next year.
As things stand then the bet is Pinzolo, and it is to be hoped that Mickael Barzalona charts a more trouble-free passage than at Newbury last time. For me it has got to the stage now where Silvestre de Sousa should be Godolphin's first-choice jockey in the big races, and I'd feel much more comfortable were he on board, but Barzalona will get the mount and we may just need to close our eyes if it looks as though things could get tight in the final couple of furlongs.
Click HERE to listen to Matt Gardner's Racing Post Trophy ante-post podcast on Timeform Radio.
Back Pinzolo @ 6.86/1 in the Racing Post Trophy
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