Yucatan leads way for O’Brien

Views from connections ahead of the Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday.

Yucatan (left): Racing Post Trophy favourite

Yucatan began the week not looking the obvious number one contender for Aidan O'Brien in the Racing Post Trophy, but now finds himself a short-priced favourite for the final Group One of the British season at Doncaster.

Capri was expected to spearhead O'Brien's bid for an eighth victory in the two-year-old showpiece he has won with the likes of future Classic winners High Chaparral, Brian Boru and Camelot, as well as St Nicholas Abbey, but he was not declared.

The regally-bred Yucatan finished just behind Capri in the Beresford Stakes, but his trainer stated midweek he had improved considerably for that outing.

By Galileo out of the brilliant Six Perfections, there is no doubting the market leader is bred for the job and he is owned, along with the Coolmore triumvirate of John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, by the Niarchos family's Flaxman Stables, who also had Six Perfections.

Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos operation, said: "Aidan O'Brien indicated that he would be one of several possible choices for the race and he has decided this is the next plan for him.

"I think he has grown up in each run to date.

"It is a step up in grade for him on Saturday so let's see what happens."

O'Brien also runs The Anvil, still a maiden after four runs but placed twice in Group company, and Finn McCool.

Next in the betting is the William Haggas-trained Rivet, winner of the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster before finishing fifth in the Dewhurst behind O'Brien's Churchill.

Rivet will be ridden by Andrea Atzeni who has won the last three renewals on Kingston Hill, Elm Park and Marcel.

He is part-owned by Lester Piggott's daughter Maureen, who is also Haggas' wife.

She said: "Things didn't really go his way in the Dewhurst, but he came out of it well.

"The ground is still relatively dry, so while conditions are in his favour, we thought we'd give it a go.

"He's won at Doncaster and it's a little bit more straightforward than Newmarket.

"Andrea has ridden him the last twice, so it makes sense for him to ride him again."

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Bringing arguably the best form into the race is Sylvester Kirk's Salouen, second in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly.

"He's in good form at home, but you never know if it could be one run too many at this time of year," said Kirk.

"I was keen to take him to the Breeders' Cup but his owner couldn't make that so we run here instead.

"This looks a tougher race but he's certainly not out of place, he proved that in France. I'm looking forward to it."

Way back in 1991, David Elsworth won the race with Seattle Rhyme and he is back with another contender in Rockingham Stakes winner Sir Dancealot.

While his York success came over six furlongs, he does have two successes over seven at Kempton on his record.

Elsworth said: "The horse is fine. The only thing is he is trying an extra furlong and basically it is whether he gets the mile.

"People have seen him run over seven furlongs and he just changed his legs a couple of times, so whether that is the limit of his stamina I don't know, but this race is only 220 yards further.

"He goes there in reasonable form and I'd be disappointed if he is not there or thereabouts. If they don't go fast then maybe he will have more of a chance of getting the trip.

"It is a big prize and if he didn't do this he wouldn't be doing anything.

"I've looked up the sire (Sir Prancealot) and he has had a winner over the trip."

Charlie Appleby saddles Bay Of Poets, who is set to be held on to much longer this time than in the Royal Lodge when he looked a big threat before fading tamely.

Appleby said: "He is in great order, even though he is a 25-1 shot. He has come out of his last race fine and has put in some good pieces of work.

"He travelled into his last race well and was the only horse on the bridle, but he didn't finish very well, so that is why we are going to ride him cold this time."

Contrapposto was second to Rivet in the Convivial Maiden at York which has worked out so well and he had no trouble in breaking his maiden at Nottingham recently.

Trainer David Menuisier said: "He's been fine since Nottingham but we haven't done much with him as it's only two weeks ago.

"He's in great shape and we'll get to see what we've got.

"Good ground is fine, it should suit everybody, all we hope for is a nice clear race with no excuses."

He added: "Capri not running is a surprise but it changes nothing, Aidan still has the favourite. I don't look at the form of the others, though.

"It's hard to gauge the Irish form anyway as they have mostly run against each other.

"I'm not going there cocky or pretentious thinking we are going to win, but he's done little wrong and deserves his chance.

"I think he's a fair each-way price. If the Convivial was over a mile, I'd like to think we'd have been even closer to Rivet who has won a Group Two and ran well in the Dewhurst, so I'd like to think we won't be far away from him."

Ger Lyons sends Brutal from his Glenburnie base in Ireland but he is realistic as to his chances.

"Brutal is Brutal and he'll run well in whatever race I run him in, he's that type of horse, but he's not that level," said Lyons.

"He's going to the sales, so they (owners Qatar Racing) said we'll run him and if he runs well and gets a big sale we'll take it, and if he runs very well we'll keep him."

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