Racing: O'Brien's latest invasion

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The Independent Online
AIDAN O'BRIEN, still looking for a tune from one of the highly-touted collection of expensive two-year-old colts in his care at Ballydoyle, provides four of the 15 possibles for the final movement of the top-level two-year-old season in Britain, Saturday's Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

The Irish maestro suffered a disappointment when Stravinsky, previously disqualified in France, could finish only third to Mujahid and Auction House in the Dewhurst Stakes on Saturday. The colt may yet come right next spring; in the meantime Tchaikovsky - along with Coliseum, Festival Hall and Cupid - is composing himself.

Twelve months ago O'Brien, with King Of Kings and Second Empire already in the Group One bag, sent over Saratoga Springs to measure the strength of the embryonic staying division on this side of the water and found it less than Sheffield-tempered as his third-best two-year-old disposed of Mudeer and Mutamam.

No decision has yet been made about which of this season's young pretenders will pick up the baton. Tchaikovsky, at 625,000 guineas the most expensive auction yearling of his generation in Britain, held on in a finish of short-heads on his debut in a seven-furlong maiden at the Curragh a month ago. Two hours earlier Coliseum, yet to win, just failed to peg back Mus- If in the Group One National Stakes over the same distance with Festival Hall - who won the Beresford Stakes on Saturday - four lengths back. All three are by Sadler's Wells and virtually certain to relish the extra furlong to be faced on Saturday.

Racing's other superpower, Godolphin, will rely on Timahs, supplemented at a cost of pounds 15,000 after the decision was made not to send Easaar into the fray. Derby winner Shaamit's baby brother has yet to don the blue livery - he is still under the care of David Loder and will run on Saturday in the yellow and black of Sheikh Ahmed - but his winter quarters at Al Quoz have already been assigned.

Timahs created a favourable impression on his debut 20 days ago when he beat the more experienced Bienniale and some other well-regarded types in a mile maiden at Newmarket.

Peter Chapple-Hyam has two entries, the highly-regarded Commander Collins, one of the first 1999 Derby fancies after his debut defeat of Rhapsodist at Newmarket, and Bienamado, the runaway winner of the Prix Conde over nine furlongs at Longchamp earlier this month. Commander Collins - like Coliseum earlier in the year - went down narrowly to Auction House last time out and has an alternative, lowlier, engagement in the Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury, his local track, on Friday.

The Racing Post Trophy, the last Group One race in Britain this year, will provide just about the last piece of the jigsaw as far as the two- year-old hierarchy is concerned but only an exceptional performance, a la Celtic Swing in 1994, will shift the opinion that the youngest generation are a pretty level bunch this year.

As the elite Flat season approaches its last hurrah the fledgling jump season is becoming progressively more demanding of attention. The reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup champion, Cool Dawn, is scheduled to make his seasonal reappearance in the first graded race of the domestic campaign, the Desert Orchid South Western Pattern Chase at Wincanton on Sunday.

Other high-profile horses on the list are his own stablemate Super Tactics, winner of the Racing Post Chase and Murphy's and Tripleprint Gold Cups hero Senor El Betrutti.

Late on Sunday night in Toronto the Henry Cecil-trained Royal Anthem and Zomaradah (Luca Cumani) took the Canadian International and E P Taylor Stakes respectively. That continued the splendid worldwide run, started by Taufan's Melody in Melbourne and continued by Silver Patriarch in Rome and Tomba in Paris, of British-trained horses over the weekend.

Royal Anthem led virtually wire-to-wire and showed powerful acceleration to dispose of the favourite Chief Bearhart by two lengths and may have booked his place in the field for the Breeders Cup Turf in Kentucky early next month.

RACING POST TROPHY (Saturday): Coral: 3-1 Bienamado, 9-2 Commander Collins, 5-1 Tchaikovsky, 11-2 Coliseum, 6-1 Timahs, 10-1 Tumbleweed Quartet, 12- 1 Desaru, Rhapsodist, 14-1 Magno, 16-1 Gudlage, Festival Hall, 33-1 Cupid, Housemaster, 50-1 Stormy Skye, 66-1 The Exhibition Fox.

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