Classic hopefuls for 2014 are set to clash in the Racing Post Trophy this afternoon at Doncaster – Will Aidan O’Brien’s horses play the right tune again?

In what looks to be one of the most open renewals of the Racing Post Trophy in years, a number of the juveniles head to the race with hopes for classic success in 2014. In the recent past the Group One contest has been a lucky hunting ground for Ballydoyle and may be again today with Century, Buonnaroti and Johann StraussCentury comes here unbeaten but Crockford’s eye was caught by the maiden Johann Strauss. It was clear at HQ on his first run that Johann Strauss was highly regarded both in how he was taken down and nursed through his debut. Now appearing on six days after his last start in a Group One it suggests that there is much more to come from him.

Godolphin have had a profitable last few weeks and have an outstanding chance with their impressive Pinzolo, as will Roger Varian’s Kingston HillChief Barker has been workmanlike in both wins but against good opposition and will fly the flag for Hannon. However, Crockford suspects that Ryan Moore and Ballydoyle will be playing the right tune again with highly regarded Johann Strauss.

With the jumps season now in full flight, the Old Roan Chase at Aintree may provide the perfect opportunity for Alan King’s grey Walkon to get off to a winning start this year. Walkon runs exceptionally well fresh and would have won too big prizes last year if he hadn’t bumped into the well handicapped Al Ferof and Unioniste. The highly regarded Regal Encore also makes his hurdling debut at the Liverpool course and is one to watch this winter.

Crockford’s Dead Cert –  Sire De Grugy (Chepstow 4.45)

This Moore trained chaser showed he was full of ability last season and will outclass his rivals again today at Chepstow. Expect him to come on from a victory today to bigger and better things in the months ahead. At around 5/2 he presents excellent value.

Crockford’s Whisper – Johann Strauss e/w (Doncaster 3.50)

The whisper about this colt is that he is very special. Punters only need to look back to his HQ debut to see the confidence that his jockey had in him. Joseph may not be up today but Moore is often given the task of riding special ones.

Archer’s Selection – Regal Encore (Aintree 5.20)

Archer would have known how well respected that last year’s Champion Bumper second is and would have loved to have been on board for his first hurdle outing. Expect a decisive win.

Crockford’s Gambles across the courses:

Doncaster – Van Percy (2.40), Kyleakin Lass e/w (3.15) and Johann Strauss e/w (3.50)

Aintree – Fruity O’Rooney (2.30), Walkon (3.05) and Regal Encore (5.20)

Chepstow – Doing Fine (1.50), Arthurian Legend (2.25), Lamb or Cod (4.10) and Sire de Grugy (4.45)

Newbury – Piping Rock (2.20), Model Pupil (2.55), Salutation e/w and Mister Music e/w (3.30)

Stratford – Rosie Probert (2.10), Ikorodu Road e/w (3.20), Dollar Bill e/w (3.55) and Memory Cloth (5.05)


(Featured Photograph –  Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore by Stuart Rice

Aidan O'Brien