Racing: Septimus and Fallon to secure another Trophy for Ballydoyle

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But there is still time for Sadler's Wells to maintain another unique record. He has fathered at least one individual Group or Grade 1 winner from his first 17 crops racing, starting with Dewhurst dead-heaters Prince Of Dance and Scenic in 1988, but the colts and fillies from his 18th, this season's juveniles, still have to come up with the goods. Alexandrova, missed out by inches in the Fillies' Mile; this afternoon at Doncaster Septimus (3.30) can go one better.

The distinctively-marked bay, with four snowy socks and a bold splatter of white paint on his forehead, turns up for the Racing Post Trophy, the last top-level event of the domestic programme, after treading a familiar route from Ballydoyle, without fault. Thirteen days ago he made it two from two in the Beresford Stakes, a Group 2 contest at the Curragh run over today's trip.

O'Brien has won four of the last eight runnings of the Racing Post Trophy, with Brian Boru three years ago, High Chaparral the year before, Aristotle in 1999 (all three by Sadler's Wells) and Saratoga Springs. Of his four Beresford winners to compete at Doncaster, Saratoga Springs won both races and three finished runner-up in the second: Lermontov (to Aristotle), Castle Gandolfo (to High Chaparral) and Albert Hall, to Motivator last year. Brian Boru had chased home Alamshar in the Irish race.

So the Ballydoyle red route is not foolproof, but it may be today. On the figures Septimus must improve, but his profile says he will do just that. After beating stablemate Arabian Prince in his maiden he still looked babyish enough at the Curragh, in rather tight closing stages he did all the right things and his length success from Rekaab was decisive in the end. He will be much more of a grown-up today, has the ground to suit him and Kieren Fallon in the saddle to continue his education process. He can become his sire's 66th individual top-level star.

The day's other plot is, of course, the tussle between O'Brien and Sir Michael Stoute for the trainers' crown, with the Newmarket man, going for his eighth championship, in the box seat. He remains some £110,000 ahead after his rival chipped away a little with a win and three thirds in Britain yesterday.

The title race ends two weeks hence but today is the last of the serious money-earning opportunities and in the Racing Post Trophy - which carries a prize fund of £216,000, with £125,000 to the winner - both contenders have nailed their intentions to the mast. O'Brien is mob-handed, with Dylan Thomas, Arabian Prince and Mountain backing up for Septimus, and Maktoum Al Maktoum has stumped up a £17,500 supplementary entry fee for Best Alibi to try to split the Co Tipperary bloc.

Best Alibi is a progressive colt, a game winner of his maiden at Leicester 11 days ago under Fallon at his most persuasive, but may find the softening ground against him. The dangers to Septimus, second favourite for next year's Derby in most lists, are likely to be his comrade Dylan Thomas, a dour galloper, and the other unbeaten colt in the field, the Mark Johnston-trained Winged Cupid, whose Newbury victory last month was franked yesterday when his immediate victim Shahin scored in good style back at the Berkshire track.

The trainers' battle may be won or lost on Town Moor, but there will be a preliminary skirmish at Newbury, where both camps have soldiers chasing a first prize of £23,000 in the opening Horris Hill Stakes.

O'Brien's Hurricane Cat, an eight-length winner on easy ground at Cork seven days bago, can prove better than Stoute's Final Verse, runner-up in a York nursery in August, but both may have to give best to Stepping Up (2.05), another upwardly mobile Johnston inmate.

Richard Edmondson

Nap: Queen Cleopatra (Newbury 4.20)

NB: Duelling

(Newbury 2.40)