Racing: O'Brien's Albert Hall to catch the Post

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Such was the crushing impression caused by Shamardal in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket a week ago today that the two-year-old shop seemed to close there and then, blinds down with a request to come back next spring dangling in the window.

Such was the crushing impression caused by Shamardal in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket a week ago today that the two-year-old shop seemed to close there and then, blinds down with a request to come back next spring dangling in the window.

That prevailing attitude appeared to disregard that a juvenile championship race remained, one which had been won recently by future Classic winners in American Post, Brian Boru and High Chaparral, the last two trained by Aidan O'Brien.

The Racing Post Trophy is certainly much more than a repêchage or plate competition and, it would be nice to think, contains a colt well able to get the shutters flying up again. If a substantial horse is to emerge, form and word suggests it must be either Albert Hall or Motivator.

Albert Hall is the produce of that most fertile of equine farms at Ballydoyle, from where Aristotle (1999) and Saratoga Springs (1997) have also emerged triumphantly within the last decade.

O'Brien shoots for his fifth winner in the last eight renewals at Doncaster this afternoon with the winner of the Beresford Stakes two weeks ago, a colt which triumphantly stepped up to Group Two company having finished runner-up on his debut last month. Now he must accomplish another extravagant standing jump to the highest sphere. "He did very well to win on only his second start," Jamie Spencer, the jockey, said yesterday. "I am hoping for a good run from him now that he steps up another level to Group One company."

The horse battling for favouritism with Albert Hall is another relatively callow youngster. Motivator has raced just once in his life, when an eyecatching victor over subsequent dual winner Sunday Symphony in a maiden at Newmarket in August.

The son of Montjeu, a general 33-1 shot for next year's Derby, bypassed an engagement in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot last month on account of the going. His trainer, Michael Bell, has twisted his colt's record to suggest Motivator will now have the quality of freshness in his favour. "He is less experienced than the others, but although he lacks match practice, some of the others may just be tailing off for the season," the Newmarket man said yesterday.

"He is in good shape. The plan was originally to run in the Royal Lodge, but we had to miss that because of the quicker ground. Although I'd rather it wasn't desperately heavy, he showed in his maiden that he was effective on the soft. I hope that Motivator won't let us down tomorrow."

It is also to be hoped that Bell keeps his PIN more secret than his admiration for Motivator. His jockey, Kieren Fallon, needs one more top-level success to equal Frankie Dettori's record of six domestic Group Ones this season, but the Irishman's presence, allied to the hot word from Fitzroy House, means that Motivator's price will reflect far more than his bare form. In these circumstances, the best qualified Albert Hall (next best 3.30) is the best option.

Elsewhere in the Doncaster slop there is a chance for Quito (2.25), who needs races to fall beautifully for him but who also now gets his required cut and a distance of seven furlongs which might have been what he has needed for some time. Add to the combinations also Soulacroix (2.55), a beast apparently reapproaching his best at Newmarket last time.

The shoes and trousers do not stand much of a better chance at Newbury, where selections also have to be tempered by the soft going. In the old days, the St Simon Stakes would have been a piece of cake for Asian Heights, but the six-year-old must first prove the pilot light is still there following the leg problems sustained in winning the Ormonde Stakes at Chester last May. His stablemate, The Whistling Teal (3.10), is two years older, but has previous both in the ground and in this race, which he won two years ago at the main expense of Warrsan.

The preceding handicap contains the best bet of the day. NAMROC (nap 2.40) was fourth when favourite at Newmarket last time, but that was not an undiluted disappointment as he both proved his suitability in soft going and over an extended distance of ground.

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