Halford's casamentol looks too hot for trophy rivals
Ireland's two-year-olds are plainly a talented bunch. It took the might of Frankel to deny Roderic O'Connor and Glor Na Mara in last week's Dewhurst Stakes, and with nothing of Frankel's calibre engaged in the Racing Post Trophy (2.55) at Doncaster, the prize looks destined for export.
This one-mile contest offers Aidan O'Brien one last chance to snap a dismal sequence. The Ballydoyle handler, who has yet to win a juvenile race of any description in England this year, sends Master Of Hounds and Seville in his bid to end the drought.
Johnny Murtagh's place aboard the former was telegraphed by mid-week betting markets, but Master Of Hounds only broke his maiden at the fourth attempt. Granted, he gave best to some high-class colts before finally bolting up at Tipperary. Yet that is hardly the profile of a Group One winner in waiting.
Seville boasts a more promising profile and Colm O'Donoghue is sweet on this son of the all-conquering Galileo. Yet the overriding impression is that O'Brien's two-year-olds are a cut below the best. So, while Seville is dangerous, the vote goes to Casamento.
This Shamardal colt brings impeccable credentials to the race. The sole blot on his record is his narrow defeat by Pathfork, which remains unbeaten, in last month's National Stakes. He subsequently rebounded to win the Beresford Stakes in a common canter, in the process demonstrating a healthy appetite for the game. His form is cast-iron, he should be fresh enough and the Michael Halford Kildare stable is bang in form.
Dunboyne Express is another intriguing runner. Kevin Prendergast's colt bettered Master Of Hounds at Leopardstown before trouncing that one's stablemate, Samuel Morse, in the Anglesey Stakes. He has not been out since, however, and must defy a three-month absence.
Titus Mills looks best of the home defence. He has more to give, as does Native Khan, but neither has achieved anything like the prominence of Casamento. Frankie Dettori is aboard for the first time and the combination sets a mighty standard.
Another horse worth supporting at Doncaster is Galtymore Lad in TheBettingSite.com Stakes (2.25). This hardy colt chased home Wootton Bassett in a pair of valuable sales races before readily disposing of a solitary opponent last time out. With Wootton Bassett subsequently victorious in Group One company, the form looks gilt-edged.
Scholar can teach Elzaam real lesson
Philip Robinson is regarded as one of the weighing-room's better judges. He could have ridden at Doncaster today, where the Michael Jarvis-trained Toolan is no forlorn hope in the aforementioned Racing Post Trophy. That he ventures to Newbury instead, demands attention.
Nor is Robinson aboard the Jarvis-trained Elzaam, which is owned by Hamdan Al-Maktoum and thus ridden by Richard Hills in the Horris Hill Stakes (2.05). Elzaam will take plenty of beating if reproducing his effort in Royal Ascot's Coventry Stakes, where he was nailed on the line. Since then, however, the colt ran listlessly when odds-on for a decent prize at Newmarket in July.
In the circumstances Dux Scholar makes more appeal. He looked likely to win a similar race at Ascot last time, when he accelerated sharply to lead early in the straight before he was run down inside the final furlong. That one-mile journey almost certainly stretched his stamina and he can make amends now that he drops down to seven furlongs.
To return to Robinson, the purpose of his visit to Newbury is surely to ride the Jarvis-trained Zoowraa in the Radley Stakes (3.40). This is a deeply competitive heat, with Blessed Biata, Flood Plain, Janicellaine and Tuscania all catching the eye. Yet Zoowraa could not have won with greater authority on her Redcar debut three weeks ago. She looks a filly with a rosy future.
Robinson also has claims aboard Hot Prospect in the St Simon Stakes (2.40) on the same Newbury card. Yet while the three-year-old probably boasts the best form, he steps up to 12 furlongs for the first time since he was outclassed in the Derby at Epsom.
Hot Prospect doesn't appeal as a middle-distance type, however, whereas the opposite is true of Poet. This one has been running consistently at 10 furlongs while leaving the firm impression that a stiffer test would suit. He can track confirmed front-runner Whispering Gallery before setting sail for home in the straight.