High Chaparral packs too many guns

Racing Post Trophy: O'Brien second string floors favourite, but maintains Ballydoyle's flawless juvenile sequence
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The Independent Online

The Ballydoyle army cadet corps maintained its extraordinary progress through the season with a one-two in the Racing Post Trophy here yesterday. High Chaparral's three-quarter length defeat of his better-fancied stablemate Castle Gandolfo made it eight out of eight in this year's European Group One races for juvenile colts and was the 21st top-level success of the campaign for the Co Tipperary stable's master Aidan O'Brien.

The result may not have been exactly as most punters predicted – Castle Gandolfo started 8-13 favourite – but the market still spoke volumes in the winner's favour, as he was backed from 9-1 in the morning to 9-2 at the off. It was no real surprise, either, to those more intimately connected with the two colts. "In fairness to Aidan, he said that either of them could win," the victorious jockey, Kevin Darley, revealed afterwards. "He told me that mine had a bit of class and, if he could overcome his greenness, he had the potential to beat the other one."

Yesterday's 41st edition of the final Group One contest of the domestic season was run over the straight mile – the boggy ground meant that the stalls could not be utilised on the round course and tape starts are forbidden for races of this status – and the glue-like underfoot conditions provided a stern test for the six youngsters involved.

The third of the O'Brien runners, Camp David, was sacrificed as pacemaker, a duty he shared with the rank outsider, Mr Sandancer, through the first half-mile. But it was more as tortoise than hare and Mount Joy, the supplemented Godolphin candidate, helped neither himself nor his jockey, Darryll Holland, by tugging hard against the slow pace.

George Duffield, who won the race for Ballydoyle two years ago on Aristotle, was the first to move, changing his hands on Castle Gandolfo two and a half out and eliciting an instant response as the son of Gone West quickened and cruised from last to first in a matter of strides. But he was shadowed by High Chaparral, who proved that O'Brien is something of a prophet as well as a trainer.

The bay Sadler's Wells colt, who races in Michael Tabor's blue and orange colours, floundered for a fleeting second before understanding what Darley's demands meant. Then, revelling in the ground as a son of his sire should, he engaged overdrive and surged to the front. Fully five lengths behind the leading pair at the line, Redback deprived Mount Joy of the minor place.

Darley said: "I always had George in my sights and followed him through. Mine went through a patch of inexperience – he seemed content to follow the other one for a stride or two – but, when I switched him left, he realised what was needed, changed down and found another gear.

"It wasn't just that he stayed on, though he did that too. He really picked up and I would think that he'd have a bright future. He's an athlete, too, a lovely mover."

Duffield agreed, saying: "The slow early pace wasn't great, but I set sail for home as per instructions and I wasn't stopping, so the other one must be good. When I won on Aristotle I was the third string – no wonder Mick Kinane gets it wrong from time to time, with stable strength like they have."

Yesterday's win was O'Brien's third Racing Post Trophy in five years and his second one-two. Saratoga Springs scored in 1997 and, when Aristotle won, he beat stablemate Lermontov. High Chaparral, who had previously won a seven-furlong Tipperary maiden, is more of a Derby than 2,000 Guineas type and is now in the bookmakers' lists at 20-1.

But this contest has, in its various guises over the years, produced only one victor who has gone on to take the premier Classic – Reference Point, who won on Town Moor in 1986.

Before yesterday, O'Brien's Group One winning juvenile colts had been Johannesburg (Phoenix Stakes, Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes), Hawk Wing (National Stakes), Rock Of Gibraltar (Grand Critérium and Dewhurst Stakes) and Sholokhov (Gran Criterium). Only two French races next month, the Critérium International and the Grand Critérium de Saint-Cloud, stand between the Irishman and his Coolmore-backed operation completing a perfect 10.

The Racing Post Trophy was Darley's second Group One win of the year, after Super Tassa in the Yorkshire Oaks, and his first of any grade for Ballydoyle from only three rides. High Chaparral also helped the reigning champion keep gunning for Kieren Fallon at the top of the jockeys' table. A 160-1 treble, instigated by Falcon Hill and completed by Scorned, cut Fallon's lead to 11 with 12 racing days to go to the finishing line in the title race.

In Australia, Northerly thwarted Sunline's bid for a third successive Cox Plate victory by three-quarters of a length. The German challenger, Silvano, was fourth.

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