Originally called The Timeform Gold Cup, it was first run in 1961 under the sponsorship of the Halifax tipping service. It was given Group1 status when the current race grading system was introduced in 1971 and assumed it’s present title when first sponsored by the Racing Post organisation in 1989. It is the last Group1 of the British flat racing season and having five of the last eighteen Derby winners on it’s roll of honour can certainly be considered a good guide to a horses Epsom prospects. So is there a putative Epsom hero lurking in Saturday’s field? Well if so the likelihood is that it will be trained by A.P.O’Brien, who has been responsible for seven winners of The Racing Post Trophy since 1997, two of whom (High Chaparall, and Camelot) have gone on to Epsom glory. At the time of writing he is responsible for half the ten runner field and if the market is to be believed, Deauville represents his best chance.
A good looking bay colt, he is by Galileo out of a Danehill mare, Walklikeanegyptian, and unusually for a Ballydoyle potential high flyer, made his racecourse debut in a Listowel maiden over 7f on heavy ground at the end of May where he duly obliged. He next appeared eight weeks later in a Leopardstown Group3, again over 7f where starting at 9/2 he beat the long odds on favourite (and subsequent Dewhurst third) Sanus Par Aquam by 1/2L in a workman like fashion. His jockey, Joseph O’Brien was pushing along from halfway but stayed on stoutly at the finish, strongly suggesting that a step up to a mile was required. He duly reappeared two months later in the Group1 Royal Lodge Stakes over a mile at headquarters and was beaten 3/4L by Saturday’s opponent, Foundation. On the face of it the Gosden horse should confirm the form, but I wonder if the Newmarket race played to Foundation’s strengths. The way the race was run, at a very steady pace and in a slow time, where Deauville, for whatever reason, lost a couple of lengths mid race, but then ran on stoutly, you would have to say undoubtedly favoured the speedier Gosden runner. Saturday’s race is invariably won by a staying type and there would have to be some doubt if Foundation’s pedigree, (by a miler, out of a miler) fits that particular bill. Deauville on the contrary is more stoutly bred and with a strong pace almost guaranteed at the weekend their second meeting could be very interesting.
Foundation didn’t see a racecourse until the beginning of August when taking a lowly Cl5 maiden at Haydock Park. Great strides forward have been taken since, winning a listed race, again at the Lancashire venue, and culminating in that impressive win in the Royal Lodge. Obviously out of the top drawer, he looks the one to beat.
The all conquering Hugo Palmer yard has a very interesting runner in Menghil Khan. He made a promising debut only four weeks ago where despite running green he finished third in a Newmarket maiden, and showed the benefit, when trotting up at Nottingham on soft ground over 1m 1/2f a fortnight later. He is very well bred, being by the first season sire, Lope De Vega ( winner of the French 2000gns and Derby) and out of a Danehill mare who is a half sister to two Group1 winners. He did seem to relish the soft ground at Nottingham so if a similar surface prevails at the weekend this 150,000gns yearling might just cap a ‘superb season for his highly talented trainer.
The penny seemed to drop late on in the group1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on “Arc” day for another O’Brien blue blood, Shogun. Having been pushed along in midfield for most of the race he seemed to get the message late on and finished with a flourish, and despite coming sixth, was only 1 1/2L behind the winner. By the Australian stallion Fastnet Rock, who is doing so well with his European runners, and out of a Galileo mare who was second in the Group2 1m6 1/2f Parkhill stakes he is another who could be well suited by Saturday’s contest and is one to keep on the right side of.
E.W. : Shogun