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For horseracing fans the end of the flat season and the beginning of the jumps happens more with a fizzle than a bang. Last weekend’s ‘finalé’ meeting at Newmarket is no such thing, meanwhile the jumps program is only fitfully resurrected from its summer slumbers.
It seems an odd way to run the race calendar but at least for the next few weeks die hard supporters of either code can find fare to suit. Up at Doncaster this weekend there is the last Group One flat race of the season, the Racing Post Trophy. Some may find the diminished field of eight a disappointment, but this race is usually won by a two-year old well worth following with next year’s Classics in mind.
Of the last three winners High Chapparal has won two Derbys, Brian Boru the St.Leger and American Post the French 2,000 Guineas. Aidan O’Brien, the master of Ballydoyle, who sends Albert Hall and Hills of Aran over for this renewal, trained two of those horses and has won this race four times.
Albert Hall is likely to start favourite. There is no reason to cramp the form of his win in the Beresford Stakes, a race won by Azamour and Alamshar in the last two years. However, it may be better to side with the home team and hope that Michael Bell can notch a well-deserved first domestic group one win.
He trains Motivator who could not have been more impressive when winning at Newmarket first time out. This son of Montjeu took that race as he liked and the second home that day, Sunday Symphony, has since scored twice. Motivator will love the soft ground and has reportedly been working well.
If jumping is your creed then head to Kempton for the best racing the season has had to offer so far. The feature race is the iBetX.com Gold Cup. Though he hasn’t won for two years, Gunther McBride is a strong fancy. He loves Kempton where his record reads three wins and two seconds in five races and goes there fresh.
The old warrior has been in the grip of the handicapper but he may hold too much firepower for up and coming types like Ballyvaddy. When Gunther McBride won the Racing Post Chase over course and distance in 2002 he galloped his rivals ragged, winning by 17 lengths. It won’t be that easy this time, but expect a bold front-running show.
3:30 Doncaster Motivator (win)
3:55 Kempton Gunther McBride (win)