The Racing Post Trophy is one of my favourite races. It's an event which can really strengthen classic claims (see Authorized, Camelot, Kingston Hill) or see them dissolved in about 1m 40secs (Septimus, Eagle Mountain, Curtain Call). My earliest Racing Post Trophy memory is Ballydoyle's Aristotle winning under a fifty-two-year-old George Duffield in 1999, a ride that served as a precursor to Duffield's power-packed display on the same connections' Giant's Causeway in the following summer's Coral-Eclipse Stakes. Aristotle was Aidan O'Brien's second Racing Post Trophy winner after Saratoga Springs two years earlier, and he's since added five more to his CV, including the aforementioned Camelot and his fellow subsequent classic winners High Chaparral and Brian Boru.
With six (all of them by Galileo) of the 17 entries for the latest renewal, including the top two in the market in Group 2 Beresford Stakes one-two Capri and Yucatan, O'Brien looks in a good position to go one step closer to Sir Henry Cecil's record of 10 wins. Capri is the short-priced favourite after winning all three starts (tongue tied) since his debut, including a Tipperary listed race and the six-runner Beresford on soft ground at the Curragh. Capri once again gave the impression there is a bigger performance in him when beating Yucatan by three-quarters of a length in the Beresford, though there's clearly not much between the pair, and Yucatan did concede first run to a degree and was forced to deliver his challenge on the unfavoured inside that day. Therefore, it's perhaps Yucatan who offers better value than Capri for Saturday's race.
While O'Brien also has Royal Lodge second and fifth, The Anvil and Douglas Macarthur, and Tuesday's maiden winner Sir John Lavery among the entries, he's said Capri and Yucatan will likely be joined by Finn McCool only. Finn McCool might have taken four goes to get off the mark, doing so back over a mile on soft ground at Navan this month, but he's an interesting horse in his own right. The fact he made his debut (11/10 but ran very green) in the same Leopardsown maiden won by Order of St George and Fascinating Rock in recent years, and then contested the Group 1 National Stakes really catches the eye, especially as he wasn't used as a pacemaker for Churchill (Lancaster Bomber fulfilled that role) in the latter race, albeit eventually finishing last. Maybe it's just taken a while for the penny to drop with him - he's a brother to last year's unlucky Gold Cup runner-up Kingfisher out of a mare who took 10 goes to shed her maiden tag before going on to win a listed race for Aidan O'Brien - and, while he'll need to take a big leap forward here, that could well be on the cards.
Brutal had the debutant Finn McCool almost 10 lengths back in third when winning a Leopardstown maiden at the fourth time of asking in August, but he hasn't been seen since. Of course, he could have been kept back for this race, but the fact he's missed 'easier' races such as the Beresford and Juvenile Stakes makes me think he's had an issue or two. One horse who appears to have gone through his campaign without a hiccup is Salouen who, after starting the season over six furlongs, has flourished for the step up to a mile in recent months. He's won twice and finished four and a half lengths second of seven to National Defense in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere from three starts over the trip and should be on the premises again here; in fact, he's probably a couple of points bigger than he should be at around 11.010/1.
The reverse may be true of Rivet who showed smart form when winning the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster but appeared to be put in his place when three and a half lengths fifth of seven to Churchill in Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket last time. He could well improve for the step up to a mile, but his most recent effort has knocked some of the shine off him. Contrapposto has three and a quarter lengths to make up on Rivet from their runs in the Convivial Maiden at York (won by Rivet), but he did improve a bit when winning over the extended mile at Nottingham this month and remains with potential.
Strangely, Sir Dancealot would probably be a shorter than 20/1 had he not run, and won, last time. He has the best chance of upsetting Capri and Yucatan on form (rated the same as the latter), but he dropped back to six furlongs when coming from last to first to win a York listed race this month and may not stay this far (speedily bred). One who has already won over further is Frankuus,who will bid to give Frankel a European two-year-old Group 1 winner in his first crop. After being beaten on his next three starts after his winning debut, Frankuus has got back to winning ways stepped up beyond seven furlongs, taking a Haydock listed race and a French Group 3 (nine furlongs). He represents the Mark Johnston yard that sent out Jukebox Jury to finish second in 2008 and Steeler to finish third in 2012. Finally, Rodaini had little go his way when losing his unbeaten record in the Autumn Stakes recently, but some of it was his own doing, specifically racing keenly for the second start in a row.
Though Ryan Moore is yet to win the Racing Post Trophy, he's finished second twice (2006 and 2013) from just three goes and will likely get his best chance of winning yet should he partner Capri on Saturday. Capri is certainly the one to beat, though the difference in his price and Yucatan's is too much, and it could even be that Finn McCool isn't actually that far behind them in the Ballydoyle pecking order for all his form figures might suggest otherwise; the fact he's even running here is a sign of that. Provided it doesn't become obvious he's being sacrificed as a pacemaker, Finn McCool could actually be worth an each-way bet at a massive price given the clues from reading between the lines of his career so far suggest he's got much more ability than he's showed on the racecourse as of yet.
Back Finn McCool win and place for the RP Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday