Racing: Poteen packs a powerful punch

Greg Wood says Luca Cumani has the answer to today's Racing Post Trophy
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The Independent Online
There used to be two certainties connected with the Racing Post Trophy, the final Group One event of the British Flat season. The first was that, with November knocking on the door, the more rugged thrills of the winter game were at last within sight, and the second that the winner of the big race at Doncaster would sink without trace the following year.

Al Hareb, Be My Chief and Seattle Rhyme are among the recent winners of the Trophy whose only subsequent achievement of note was an entry in the Where Are They Now? Stakes. But when Armiger, in the spring of 1993, became the first Trophy victor for several seasons to actually win a race at three, it marked an rapid upturn in its fortunes, with both King's Theatre, the subsequent King George winner, and Celtic Swing (French Derby) landing Group One events in their Classic season. Though Beauchamp King, successful 12 months ago, has gone backwards since winning the Craven Stakes in April, there is enough proven form and untapped potential in today's nine-runner field to suggest it is one of the better renewals.

The obvious form horse today is Benny The Dip, winner of the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot last month, a success which looks all the more laudable since the victory of the Ascot runner-up, Desert Story, in Thursday's Horris Hill Stakes. John Gosden's colt beat Desert Story by less than a length, but most observers felt he had a couple more in hand.

A greater threat to the favourite is offered by POTEEN (nap 3.40), an easy winner of a maiden event in his only outing to date. The ante-post market this week has indicated that this colt is expected to run a very big race today. Luca Cumani, his trainer, has noticed the money his runner has attracted.

"Let's just hope that the punters don't get a hangover, because Poteen is quite a deadly mixture," Cumani said yesterday, but he has no doubt that his runner, a full brother to Bog Trotter, deserves his place in today's race.

"He's always worked well and shown us that he has natural ability," Cumani said. "He found his strength in the autumn, there's nothing to be lost by having a crack at a decent race before the winter sets in, and the fact that he's running shows he's been working well. The ground was heavy at Haydock but that was the only race available at the time, and I've no reason until he shows me otherwise to think that he won't handle normal, good-to-firm ground.''

Cumani also saddles a fancied runner in the day's second Group race, the St Simon Stakes at Newbury, but while Mons, fourth in the St Leger, should run well, he has yet to fulfil the promise of his juvenile campaign and may find at least one of his rivals too good for him. Kutta (next best 2.30) had a hard race when dead-heating under top weight in the Autumn Cup last month, but has had five weeks to recover and is a lightly-raced four-year-old who can continue his progress.

Elsewhere at Newbury, Najm Mubeen (1.30) is another who should make up for lost time, though odds of around 7-2 in a 12-runner field are hardly generous. Obvious bets are also rare back at Doncaster, but Wild Rita (4.15) had valid excuses for a poor run last time and offers some value at around 14-1. Ramooz (3.10) should take the conditions event if he can reproduce his form behind Decorated Hero at Ascot last month.

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