Trainer Andrew Balding watched as his two-year-old colt Elm Park scored an impressive success in the Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday and then declared him a live contender for next year’s Derby at Epsom.
Under jockey Andrea Atzeni, Elm Park made most of the running over the straight mile at Doncaster before showing his rivals a clean pair of hooves in the final furlong to score by a very comfortable two-and-three-quarter lengths from Aiden O’Brien’s Aloft.
The trainer is currently in Australia after saddling Side Glance to fourth in the Cox Plate and was registering his first English Group One success since landing the Oaks with Casual Look in 2003.
It took Elm Park’s record to four wins in five starts and the trainer was understandably ecstatic afterwards.
“I’m delighted, obviously, we always thought an awful lot of him,” Balding told At The Races.
“He’d looked good in his previous races and it was nice to see him go and do it at the top level. He’s certainly something to look forward to.”
The victory saw his odds shorten dramatically for next year’s Epsom showpiece and Balding was in no mood to dampen expectations.
“Any horse that wins that race (Racing Post Trophy) is automatically considered a Derby prospect and I see no reason not to treat him as such,” said the trainer.
“It’s been a long time since our last Group One so it’s nice to win another.”
Balding would be looking to follow in the footsteps of his father, who trained the great Mill Reef to win the Derby in 1971.