Somewhat a Trophy fancy
Simon Holt previews Saturday's Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and the feature action at Newbury.
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SOMEWHAT, a horse who has progressed with every run this season, could prove the value bet in Saturday's Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, the last major race of the 2013 Flat-race season.
Mark Johnston's colt looks to boast some of the best form on offer after slamming the highly-rated Godolphin juvenile Be Ready (winner next time) by over four lengths at Newbury in August before battling on gamely and beaten narrowly by Royal Ascot winner Berkshire in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket.
However, what really excites me about Somewhat's chance here is the likely soft ground as, not only is this strapping colt (a son of Dynaformer) bred to stay well but his high, chopping action suggests that an easy surface will suit him ideally.
So far, he has raced on ground no slower than good and, against lightly raced rivals in what could be a tough test, his courage and experience will prove potent weapons.
The main threat is likely to be Roger Varian's unbeaten colt Kingston Hill whose Group Three Autumn Stakes win from Oklahoma City last time was a marked step up from a debut win at Newbury (soft). While yet to be allocated a handicap mark, my assessment is that he should be rated about the same as Somewhat (112) yet he is a much shorter price than the selection.
Make no mistake, Kingston Hill looks a lovely prospect but the value may lie elsewhere.
Also unbeaten is Godolphin's representative Pinzolo whose debut defeat of stable-mate Sudden Wonder at Newmarket was nicely franked by the runner-up recently. The son of Monsun went onto score in soft ground at Newbury, though a line through third-placed Pupil suggests he has something to find with Kingston Hill.
Aidan O'Brien has a fine record in this race (seven previous winners) which has tended to suit many of his later-maturing two-year-olds with top class middle-distance pedigrees and Oklahoma City could give him a fair idea as to where he stands here.
On jockey bookings, Century (the mount of Joseph O'Brien) looks Ballydoyle's number one contender and this Montjeu colt is sure to improve considerably on his first-time-out victory at The Curragh when beating a well-touted John Oxx-trained and Aga Khan owned rival.
Buonarotti (Paul Hanagan), a wide-margin winner at Tipperary, and Johann Strauss (Ryan Moore), beaten at odds-on after a highly promising debut at Newmarket, make up the O'Brien trained trio. They are all bred to be more than useful but, as things stand, have weaker form than the previously considered runners.
Meanwhile, trainer-jockey Johnny Murtagh (who rode St Nicholas Abbey to win in 2009, and Dilshaan in 2000) can never be discounted and his representative Altruistic has every chance with Kingston Hill following a third-place behind O'Brien's Geoffrey Chaucer and Oklahoma City at The Curragh in late September.
Best of the rest could be Chief Barker, an unbeaten Azamour colt trained by Richard Hannon, whose narrow defeat of Chriselliam at Haydock was boosted when the runner-up went onto record a shock 28-1 win in the Shadwell Fillies Mile.
On his previous nursery win off a mark of just 77, Chief Barker has some improvement to find.
Soft ground conditions are also likely to prevail at Newbury where CUBANITA is fancied to topple the penalised Prince Bishop in the Worthington's Champion Shield and Victoria Club Stakes, a race better known as the St Simon Stakes.
Ralph Beckett's mud-lover seems best in the autumn and recorded a career-best performance when beating the smart Sajjhaa at Doncaster last November since when she has been only lightly raced. She was no match for Tac de Boistron at Chester last time but the winner's subsequent second in the Prix du Cadran on Arc day certainly confirmed his considerable talents.
With eight-runners declared (and hoping it stays that way), Cubanita may prove a decent each-way bet.
Prince Bishop will be hard to beat given his recent defeat of smart stable-companion Royal Empire in the Group Three September Stakes on Kempton's polytrack but his penalty is off-putting..
The six-year-old was also in good form earlier in the year at Meydan on the tapeta surface but has plenty of soft ground form in the past when trained by Andre Fabre in France.