Racing: Post bears the stamp of Classic authority

Top French juvenile conquers quirks to clinch owners' title for Abdullah with smooth Doncaster success
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The Independent Online

American Post turned the clock back 29 years here yesterday with a most special delivery. Khaled Abdullah's colt galloped to Derby favouritism with a slick display in the Racing Post Trophy, and in the process became only the second French-trained winner of the most important middle-distance signpost of the British calendar. The first, in 1974, was Green Dancer, trained by Alec Head; yesterday's hero was brought over by his daughter, Criquette Head-Maarek.

The first on the mobile to offer congratulations was the great horseman, who watched the contest back home in Normandy. "This is wonderful for me to be able to follow papa," Head-Maarek said, "very, very pleasing. It is a moment to keep in my heart."

In a field reduced to four by the withdrawal of Cape Fear and Mikado, American Post was the one for money, backed from 11-10 to 5-6, while his market rival Magritte, representing Ballydoyle, was friendless, drifting from 2-1 to 11-4.

The two colts presented a sharp contrast in looks, too: American Post strong, short-coupled, with almost the look of a sprinter; Magritte long and lean, very much a son of his sire, Sadler's Wells.

In the preliminaries American Post, the mount of the French-based weighing-room wunderkind Christophe Sou-millon, was very much more settled in his mind than he had been before winning the Grand Criterium at Long-champ on Arc day, though he did give his rider some mild palpitations as he fly-leapt to post. But once the stalls had opened, he was professional-ism personified.

Jamie Spencer set out to make the straight mile a true test on Magritte, but American Post travelled smoothly in his slipstream, and once Soumillon released the handbrake after the two-furlong marker the result was never in doubt. "I just let him go, did not fight him early on," Soumillon said, "and when I asked him to quicken, he did it very easily. He hung to the right a little at the end, but he is still learning."

Under pressure, Magritte, racing for only the second time, sprawled babyishly, allowing Fantastic View to go past him and claim runner-up spot, a length and three-quarters behind the winner.

American Post, a brown son of Bering, was the 18th Group One or Grade One win in an extraordinary season for Abdullah, and his £117,716 earnings in the last top-level contest of the domestic season clinched the British owners' title for the Saudi Arabian prince, who is heading for a unique treble at the top of the French and US lists as well. He more than justified the decision to supplement him for the race at a cost of £17,500, as did Fantastic View, who earnt £48,682 for his fine effort.

Plans for American Post are fluid, but bookmakers may be ahead of themselves by including him in 2,000 Guineas lists. "The prince has never won a Poule d'Essai des Poulains," Head-Maarek said, "so that might be the starting point. He has always shown a lot of speed at home, but his pedigree says he will get further. He is a horse I enjoy training; a playful horse with a lot of character, and a feisty spirit."

It was a first visit to Town Moor for both Soumillon, who made his first ride a winning one on Polar Way in the same colours in the opening seven-furlong conditions stakes, and Head-Maarek, who picked up a tangible souvenir. "A racegoer came up to me before the race and gave me this," she said after the race, displaying a tiny painted medallion of the Holy Family.

"He said it would bring me luck. He told me to keep it, and I will. I will wear it next to my heart, along with today's memories."

At Newbury, the Mick Channon-trained Imperial Dancer followed his good fourth place to Rakti in last weekend's Champion Stakes with a runaway success in the St Simon Stakes. The tough five-year-old, racing for the 50th time, strode clear of the St Leger runner-up High Accolade inside the final quarter of a mile to win by three lengths. Earlier at the Berkshire track, Barry Hills brought up the century for the season when his promising juvenile filly Secret Charm made it two from two in the Listed Radley Stakes.

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