AIDEN O’BRIEN looks all but certain to equal Sir Henry Cecil’s record of nine wins in the Group 1 Vertem Futurity at Doncaster after his Ballydoyle stable was responsible for 11 of the 12 runners left in the race at Monday’s five-day stage.
O’Brien is well known for making multiple entries in major races but has never dominated the field for a Group One contest so comprehensively. KAMEKO, from Andrew Balding’s stable in Hampshire, is the only possible runner from a British yard in the race which offers £10,000 for fourth place.
O’Brien has won the Vertem Futurity, which was run for many years as the Racing Post Trophy, nine times and will equal Sir Henry’s record if he can saddle the winner for a third successive time tomorrow (Saturday).
He has an added incentive as he is just over £100,000 behind John Gosden in the race for the trainers’ championship, having made significant inroads into what had appeared to be an insurmountable lead for Gosden with two winners on Champions Day at Ascot last Saturday. With prize money down to sixth place, a clean sweep for O’Brien’s runners would be worth £200,000 and give him a realistic hope of taking the crown.
With no certainty over the eventual make-up of O’Brien’s challenge, several bookmakers declined to price up the race earlier this week, though Carrigill’s installed MOGUL, a full brother to this year’s International Stakes winner, Japan, as the hot favourite at 4-7.
TARBOOSH was a ready winner at Musselburgh last time out and, now back to his best, will be tough to head in the valuable 5f Doncaster Handicap which he won last year.
The unexposed two-year-old ART POWER can take the opening Listed Doncaster Stakes. He bolted up in a York novice recently and it is well worth taking note when Tim Easterby has a horse who is that good so early in their career, and there should be lots more to come from the well-bred grey.
Karl Burke’s horses are in fine form, as typified by his winners in the opening two races at Pontefract on Tuesday, and he steps up GRAVITY FORCE to Group 3 level at Newbury tomorrow (Saturday 2.50). He may find one too good, however, in Ralph Beckett’s exciting youngster KINROSS.
William Haggas’s YOUNG RASCAL has lived up to his name this season but a gelding operation and a return to Newbury for the Group 3 Victoria Club Stakes could get him back on track.
He is three from four at the Berkshire track, including a dead heat with this year’s likely favourite MORANDO off these terms last year. He goes well fresh and the softer the ground the better his chances.
Turning to the fences, CAPTAIN TOMMY looks capable of further progress in the 3m handicap hurdle at Cheltenham tomorrow 3pm (Saturday.)
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top 4): VINTAGE CLOUDS, Kelso, Saturday 3.00.
Augur’s best bet:
TARBOOSH (e/w), Saturday, Doncaster, 4.00.