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The final Group 1 of the British Flat takes places at Doncaster on Saturday
  1. Horse Racing

Weekend Racing Preview – Aidan O'Brien bids for another Trophy win

Doncaster, Newbury, and Cheltenham all host strong cards on Saturday on what is a bumper afternoon of racing in the UK. The pick of the action is the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes on Town Moor.

Elsewhere this weekend, it is Old Roan Chase Day as a new season begins at Aintree on Sunday, where Paul Nicholls is looking for a record fourth success in the Merseyside contest.

O'Brien looking for record success in Vertem Futurity Trophy

High Chaparral, St Nicholas Abbey, Camelot, and Luxembourg have been just some of the horses which have won the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes for Aidan O'Brien. 

The Irishman clearly targets this race with his best youngsters. Success this year would give him the record outright for the most wins (11) in the final Group 1 of the British Flat season.

Auguste Rodin and Salt Lake City are the Ballydoyle entries this year at Doncaster. The former tops the betting at 5/6 for the 1m contest as he comes into this race bidding to complete a hat-trick, after impressive wins at Naas and Leopardstown. His latest victory came in a Group 2 contest and it confirmed that the son of Deep Impact was a talented colt.

Competition for the Irish horse includes Epictetus (4/1) from John and Thady Gosden's yard. He won on his debut at Newmarket. He then had to settle for second place at HQ on his most recent start, finishing a neck behind Silver Knott.

Holloway Boy (8/1) was a surprise winner of the Chesham on his debut at Royal Ascot. He has yet to score since then, although he has been running consistently well at group level and is closely matched on form with Epictetus from Newmarket. 

Two-time winner of this race, Andrew Balding is set to saddle Stormbuster (10/1), while King Of Steel (12/1) makes a big step up in class after he prevailed on his debut at Nottingham earlier this month.

Aesop's Fables leads Ballydoyle charge in Doncaster Stakes

Aesop's Fables (11/10) began his career with back-to-back victories, including a success in the Group 2 Futurity Stakes at the Curragh. He is now dropping down to 6f for the Doncaster Stakes where he will face Aidan O'Brien-trained stablemate Hispanic (9/2).

A son of No Nay Never, Aesop's Fables featured in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket last time out where he did not disgrace himself, finishing fourth of seven runners in the race which was won by Chaldean. He has just fallen short at the highest level in two attempts this season.

Hispanic meanwhile got off the mark on the third time of asking for O'Brien. He blew the field away in a 5f contest the Curragh earlier this month, scoring by eight-lengths. That performance was enough to convince his trainer he should make the trip across for this Listed race. 

Opposition to the Ballydoyle duo comes from Yarmouth winner Bresson (5/1) and Al Dasim (12/1) from George Boughey's yard.

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Hamish the star attraction at Newbury

Hamish came less than a length away from landing the Group 1 Irish St Leger this season at the Curragh back in September. He was denied victory by the standout runner in the stayers' division this year, Kyprios.

William Haggas' runner is looking for his third Group 3 success of the campaign when he features in the St Simon Stakes at 2.25. He is odds-on at 4/5 to come out on top at the Berkshire-based racecourse.

Earlier in the afternoon, Striking Star will be looking to build upon his debut success at Sandown when he tackles the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes. The Godolphin runner is the 2/1 favourite in a race that includes several unexposed two-year-olds, including Caragio (9/2), Lord Of Biscay (11/2), and Knight (9/1).

Day two of Showcase Meeting at Cheltenham

Jumps racing is back at Cheltenham where all roads lead to The Festival in March. Pied Piper (Evs) is likely to be one of the horses involved in the biggest week of the year in National Hunt racing in 2023.

He makes his return to action in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at 2.40. Gordon Elliott's runner will face Knight Salute (15/8), the horse which beat him at Aintree following a stewards' enquiry in a Grade 1 novice in the spring.

At 3.15, C&D winner Editeur Du Gite (7/2) will be vying for his third success in the Cotswolds. He is the highest-rated runner in the 2m handicap chase. Gary Moore's chaser will be taking on the in-form Clear The Running (11/4) who has been successful in his last five races.

Old Roan Chase the Sunday highlight at Aintree

The Old Roan Chase (2.40) is one of the early feature races of the season at Aintree. Eight horses have been entered for the 2m4f contest which has been won in the past by the likes of Kauto Star, Monet's Garden and Frodon.

Trainer Paul Nicholls has prevailed in this race three times and his best chance this year looks to be with Hitman. The six-year-old finished second in the Grade 1 Marsh Chase over the same C&D on his last appearance in the spring. 

Do Your Job was a winner of a Grade 2 contest at Ayr last season. He is bidding for a hat-trick of wins. Victory for Michael Scudamore's chaser could see him jump up to the highest level later in the campaign.

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