Elm Park impresses in taking Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster

Andrew Balding’s talented two-year-old takes last British Group One in style

Andrea Atzeni riding Elm Park stretches away to win  The Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Andrea Atzeni riding Elm Park stretches away to win The Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

Andrew Balding’s Elm Park ran out a most impressive winner of the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

Andrea Atzeni, successful 12 months ago on subsequent St Leger hero Kingston Hill, took a no-nonsense approach from the front, always travelling sweetly in the final Group One of the season in Britain.

That was still the case two furlongs from home and while Aloft had made progress from the rear, on hitting the furlong pole Atzeni’s mount (13 to 8 favourite) really lengthened to win in style by two and three-quarter lengths. Celestial Path ran a good race in third.

Atzeni, who will officially take on the role of number one jockey to Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing operation next season, said: “He’s very straightforward. He travelled nicely and I kept it simple, really. It was like riding a piece of work.

“He’s a beautiful mover and he’s got a great attitude. He can only get better with age.

“It meant a lot, taking a new job, it’s just amazing. I’ve won a Group Three race (in the colours) and now a Group One, before the job even starts!”

Balding is in Australia, and was represented by his father, Ian, who said: “He looks pretty good, doesn’t he?

“I’m just so thrilled. We’ve had five generations of this family. It’s lovely. To have bred him is much more special.

“He’s got the right temperament this horse, which is so important.

“Mill Reef had it, of course, in spades. He had a wonderful temperament. This fella certainly has it as well.

“Andrew does this job better than I do, so I won’t be telling him how to go about next year.

“Watching that you’d like to think he’d be a Guineas horse as well, but I don’t know. It’s up to the trainer and the owner.

“The only problem (with Epsom) is that he didn’t come down the Dip at Newmarket (in winning the Royal Lodge).”

Sheikh Fahad, who recently bought a significant share in the colt with the Kingsclere Racing Club, said: “I was just on the phone to Andrew (in Australia) and he is unbelievably thrilled. It’s a great day.

“I haven’t seen a horse go through the ground like that in my relatively new time in racing, he just glides through it.

“His mental calmness as a two-year-old is a great asset. I think logically that (the Derby) is the target. But it will be a long year next year, we’ll sit down with Ian and Andrew and the team and make a plan going forward.”

As well as Aloft, Aidan O’Brien also saddled fourth-placed Jacobean and said: “It was proper soft ground. Both horses will come on lovely from that.”

Mark Prescott said of Celestial Path: “The ground wouldn’t have been up his street. The winner kept going wonderfully well and Aidan’s horse (Aloft) has just got us for second because we’d been in more of a battle with the one in front.

“I think on lightning-fast ground he’ll be a bit better than that. It gives you hope.

“I said to the owner the pair of us will have to keep going.

“I was very pleased. I was worried about running him today, but he worked so well last week it would have been a shame not to run him.

“If he’s going well he’ll start in one of the Guineas. He won’t run before then. He doesn’t need any more practice.”

Giovanni Canaletto rocketed into the Investec Derby picture as he produced an eyecatching turn of foot to easily put the Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C&G) Maiden at Leopardstown to bed.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge is a full-brother to last year’s Derby hero Ruler Of The World and still figured among the entries for the Racing Post Trophy at the beginning of the week, and was sent off the 4 to 7 chance to build on his debut third at Navan.

Seamie Heffernan sat in midfield early and still had a number of horses ahead at the turn for home, but he swept to the front with a powerful surge and careered away to beat Alcatraz by six and a half lengths.

Heffernan said: “He’s completely asleep. When he got a bit of light he woke up, as if to say ‘what do you want me to do?’. I gave him a crack and he went right away. He’s doing it so easy at home. We like him.”

O’Brien suffered a shock reverse when Steip Amach caused a real upset in lowering the colours of Royal Navy Ship to land the Group Three Killavullan Stakes.

Royal Navy Ship was sent off the 1 to 6 favourite after beating Jacobean to score on his debut, but Heffernan never looked truly comfortable on him at the head of the four-runner field.

Steip Amach, the 12 to 1 outsider, was last of the quartet on the turn for home, but Jim Bolger’s filly responded well to Kevin Manning’s urgings, cutting down the leader close home before going on to score by three-quarters of a length.

Bolger said: “She got bogged down in Navan, and the ground was a bit better here. Seven furlongs or a mile doesn’t really matter to her. She’ll probably start off next year in a Classic trial back here.

“He’s (Vocalised, sire) the only source of Bold Ruler blood in Europe.”

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