LAST weekend, trainer Aidan O’Brien landed a record equalling 25th Group One of the year when Hydrangea scored at Ascot, and he looks set to break Bobby Frankel’s record at Doncaster tomorrow.
The Ballydoyle handler saddles four runners in the Racing Post Trophy (3.25pm), the last Group One of the UK flat season, and his two-year-old colts have finished the season in dominant form.
After winning the Middle Park at Newmarket last month, US Navy Flag dramatically led home an O’Brien trained 1-2-3-4 in the Dewhurst a fortnight ago.
His team tomorrow is headed by the unbeaten Deep Impact colt SAXON WARRIOR, the choice of stable jockey Ryan Moore.
He made an eye-catching start to his racing career at the Curragh back in August when coming from a long way back to win his maiden in good style.
He stepped up again last time in Group Two company in the Beresford Stakes when readily seeing off stablemate Delano Roosevelt.
With the ground conditions and trip at Doncaster both looking ideal, he should prove a tough nut to crack and can provide O’Brien with his eighth win in the race at 2/1 with Coral.
He is already as short as 7/1 in a place for next year’s Investec Derby and that price is likely to shorten further if he is successful tomorrow.
His biggest danger looks to be fellow Ballydoyle inmate THE PENTAGON, who impressed when winning his maiden and then again last time when asserting late on in a Group Three.
This requires another step up again, but this son of Galileo will be there to pick up the pieces should his stablemate underperform.
Both are particularly exciting colts and it would appear the only reason they are clashing at this early stage of their career is because of O’Brien’s pursuit of Frankel’s record.
Saddling both tomorrow is an insurance policy in his relentless pursuit of re-writing the history books.
A case can even be made for O’Brien’s apparent third string SEAHENGE who finished third to stablemate US Navy Flag in the Dewhurst last time.
He came from well back that day and looked unbalanced in the dip when colliding with a rival.
Previously, he won the Champagne Stakes here at Doncaster and is another one hard to keep out of the frame.
In fact, it would be no surprise if O’Brien once again saddled the first three home.
Weather forecasters are predicting unseasonably dry weather for the time of year which won’t, be music to the ears of Jim Bolger.
His Verbal Dexterity suffered a late setback which forced him to miss the Dewhurst, but he had previously looked really smart on soft ground when beating Beckford in the National Stakes.
If conditions change, he isn’t one to be underestimated, and the same must also be said of Martyn Meade’s Chilean.
He was mightily impressive in bottomless ground at Haydock last month and looks a very smart colt when the rain falls.
Chilean will be ridden by Andrea Atzeni, who has remarkably won the last four renewals of this valuable prize, all for different trainers.
John Gosden’s unbeaten Roaring Lion just got the better of O’Brien’s Nelson in the Royal Lodge, but would appear to face a pair higher up in the Coolmore pecking order tomorrow.
He has done nothing wrong in three racecourse starts to date and connections have opted to run here rather than travel to next weekend’s Breeders’ Cup.
Charlie Appleby is another trainer who has his team in excellent form and he relies on Loxley who was supplemented for this earlier in the week.
His better fancied stablemate bypasses this for a tilt at the Breeders’ Cup and Loxley comes here on the back of dead-heating on his racecourse debut a fortnight ago at Goodwood.
He may need softer ground and further in time to be seen at this best, but the fact that connections are throwing him in at the deep end suggests he is highly regarded.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Gabr seems to be getting better with each run as he steps up in trip.
The jump up to one mile helped him win his maiden at Yarmouth last time, but this will require a lot more.
Bill Esdaile’s Racing Post Trophy 1-2-3
1 Saxon Warrior
2 The Pentagon