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With temperatures hovering around the 17C mark and gardeners doing battle with ever-growing grass, it is hard to believe that this weekend marks the end of the flat season. The feature of this last flat hurrah is the Racing Post Trophy at Newbury.
The race, despite its unseasonable scheduling, has a fine track record of producing two-year olds that go on to better things at three. In the last five years those include Motivator, American Post, Brian Boru and High Chaparral – two English Derbys, a French Derby and a St.Leger between them.
Aidan O’Brien trained Brian Boru and High Chaparral. He also won this race with Our Aristotle in 1999 and Saratoga Springs in 1997. O’Brien’s runner today is Eagle Mountain and despite the short price and the big field, he is the horse to back. This son of Rock of Gibraltar was awesome winning the Beresford Stakes on soft ground last time out and went close against subsequent Dewhurst winner and 2,000 Guineas favourite, Teofilio. The form is in the book and Ballydoyle don’t send their horses to the Thames valley for the air.
Over the jumps up at Aintree on Sunday the horse to watch out for is Turko. Paul Nicholls finally broke the Martin Pipe stranglehold on the jumps’ trainer championship last year and he has a prodigious array of chasing talent to unleash. Grade 2-hurdle winner Natal put in an immaculate round over fences this week, earning a fancy quote from the bookies for the Arkle. Turko was competent over the timber without being flash, but this monster of a horse was made for chasing and his weight-for-age allowance will stand him good stead.
Newbury 2:40 Dragon Dancer (win)
Newbury 3:15 Eagle Mountain (win)
Aintree (Sunday) 3:20 Turko (win)