In recent years, the easiest way of landing the Group One Racing Post Trophy is to book Andrea Atzeni to ride.
He’s been aboard the last four winners, each time riding for a different trainer. Kingston Hill proved classiest of the quartet, finishing second in the Epsom Derby, before winning the St Leger back at Doncaster. He also ran a cracker that year to finish fourth in the Arc at Longchamp.
The Racing Post Trophy usually goes to a juvenile that is likely to get a fair bit further at three, often becoming prominent in the betting for the Epsom Derby. The final Group One of the British Flat racing season has gone to several outstanding types since its inception in 1961.
Sir Henry Cecil is the most successful trainer in the prestigious event’s relatively short history. Reference Point was his standout winner when romping to a five-length success in the race then known as the William Hill Futurity, back in 1986. He opened his account at three with victory in the Dante Stakes, before the bold front-runner powered his way to success in the Derby at Epsom. He went on to take the King George, the Great Voltigeur and then the St Leger back at Doncaster. He disappointed in his final career start in the Arc, but was found to be lame after the race.
Aidan O’Brien has had plenty of success and will be throwing everything at Saturday’s renewal with the Bobby Frankel record in his sights. In 2001, the outstanding High Chaparral landed the Racing Post Trophy on his third career start. Considered to be Ballydoyle’s second-string, he beat the more fancied stablemate Castle Gandolfo by less than a length.
Having taken a pair of trials at the start of his three-year-old campaign he headed to Epsom as second-favourite to stable companion Hawk Wing. The pair had the race to themselves, and once again it was High Chaparral that got the better of a more fancied member of the team. He followed Epsom with victory in the Irish Derby, then after a long absence managed a creditable third in the Arc. He ended his three-year-old season with a stunning success in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He was to return to America at four, and in one of the most thrilling finishes in Breeders’ Cup history, dead-heated with Johar in the ‘Turf’ with Falbrav a head back in third.
Motivator for Michael Bell and Authorized for Peter Chapple-Hyam both took the Racing Post Trophy as juveniles before returning at three to win the Dante on the way to Epsom glory in the Derby.
The last horse to tread a similar path was another Ballydoyle inmate, the wonderfully talented Camelot. An impressive winner of the Racing Post at Doncaster in 2011, he was made a short-priced favourite for the following year’s Derby. However, Aidan O’Brien announced that he would first target the Guineas at Newmarket.
He duly arrived at Newmarket as favourite for the 2000 Guineas, and in a thrilling finish defeated French Fifteen by a neck. An odds-on favourite to take the Derby, the result was never in doubt, as he stormed clear to land Epsom’s showpiece by five lengths. It was a devastating performance from a wonderful colt. After victory in the Irish Derby, Camelot was given a break and prepared for an attempt at the Triple-Crown. An odds-on favourite for the St Leger, the race failed to go as planned. Trapped on the rail, he gave valuable lengths to Godolphin’s Encke and was unable to peg back the winner.
As mentioned earlier in the piece, Atzeni has won the last four renewals of Racing Post Trophy, though only Kingston Hill truly made a mark as a three-year-old. The jockey will look for his fifth straight win on Saturday when partnering the Martyn Meade trained Chilean. It’s sure to prove a high-class renewal, with Ballydoyle likely to send a small battalion in search of the record breaking Group One success. The winner will likely be installed as favourite for the following year’s Derby and hope to emulate illustrious winners of past Racing Post Trophy’s.