James Boyle’s Ante-Post Value – The Racing Post Trophy
Saturday’s renewal of the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy, a mile contest for the juveniles, doesn’t look like a vintage renewal by any means and it’s no surprise to see Elm Park heading the market. Andrew Balding’s colt is hardly the best bred horse in the race, seeing as he’s by Phoenix Reach out of a mediocre All-Weather winner, but what he does have is the best form on offer following his success in the Group 2 Royal Lodge last month.
Over Newmarket’s Rowley mile, he defeated the useful Nafaqa by a length with his ears pricked and that was despite a few things going wrong, as he stumbled coming out of the stalls, took a false step with little more than a furlong to run and also hung to his left, shaping as if the track wasn’t completely to his liking.
With all that considered, although it was effectively a two-horse race, I think that he did exceptionally well to win in such style from a clearly useful sort and it bodes nicely for the future as he’s hardly an out-and-out forward type who should be excelling as a juvenile. The ground was said to be quick enough for him as well and overall it’s very easy to see why he’s currently the one that layers are avoiding; his profile is borderline perfect, too.
However, I’m always wanting to get the favourites beaten and Elm Park is no different at these prices. He has been a busy boy to boot, with four runs under his belt between the end of July and September, and it would hardly be a shock were he to run a bit below-par on Saturday. That may be clutching at straws to a point and he still looked a fresh horse over at Newmarket, but you’re not going to get out of a race like that too lightly and there are no shortage of interesting and potentially progressive sorts set to line up in opposition.
Aidan O’Brien, who has won three of the last five renewals of this race, had six entered and Royal Navy Ship would have been the pick of that lot but he’s not going to turn up. He’s an interesting one for the mile contests next year but I wasn’t convinced he’d be ideally suited to this race at such an early stage of his career, so it may be no harm that connections are waiting to take him elsewhere. Jacobean – who finished his race off well when second behind Royal Navy Ship on debut at the Curragh – has been promoted to second favourite in the absence of his stablemate and he’s sure to have learnt plenty of that first outing, one where he was sent off as the market leader, but an uneasy one (winner was backed).
His profile is a bit more attractive in my opinion as he’s by High Chaparral and although there’s a bit of speed on the dam side, he gives off the impression that he could be a lively candidate to improve for this mile trip, even at such an early stage of his development. However, although he literally could be anything and represents such powerful connections, 7/2 barely looks worth the hassle and he’s going to have to improve a lot. That is possible, for sure given how green he was on his debut, but I just can’t play the price for now.
Celestial Path is respected as another who could have more to offer and he has at least proven himself over the mile trip having bolted up in a Listed contest at Haydock when last seen. That form, however, leaves a bit to be desired as the runner-up Medrano was last of six when well behind Elm Park at Newmarket and the fourth home has achieved nothing of note since either. Sir Mark Prescott’s charge walloped them in fairness to him, but was probably entitled to do so and this will be a different kettle of fish entirely. Maybe he’ll prove to be well up for it and that’s not impossible – he’s a big lump of a juvenile who will improve for his racing – but I get the impression he’s one who’ll come into his own next year.
At the current prices, although he’s a risky sort and mightn’t be good enough, RESTORER makes some each-way appeal at 10/1. With William Muir’s charge, he certainly won’t lack for stamina being by Mastercraftsman out of a Rainbow Quest mare, herself a 1m 4f winner, and that will stand him in good stead. In his career to date, he has shown improved form in each of his three outings and his latest effort in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket was a cracker as he finished second behind a potentially useful sort in Commemorative.
That form is yet to be tested and the reason I say he mightn’t be up to this level is because it didn’t look to be a mind-blowing renewal at the time, but there’s every chance that we haven’t got to see the best of Restorer yet and he may be better than the bare form would suggest, having been held up in a contest when they didn’t go a mad gallop up top (winner was able to make all, too). He could be better on a flatter track as well, which he’ll get on Saturday, and given how he won his debut on soft ground, any rain will be a further help as it was decent underfoot last time. In a race of this nature, I can’t say a whole lot with excessive confidence but a small each-way bet will do no harm and he may be up to the task.
Selection for the Racing Post Trophy (3:50 Doncaster; Saturday, 25th October):
Restorer – 1pt e/w @ 10/1 (Generally available; 3 places, 1/5 odds).
*Price correct at the time of posting on 22nd October.
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