By Simon Jackson.
Sheikh Fahad Al Thani believes he has a legitimate Derby contender in Elm Park, the impressive winner of the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.
Sheikh Fahad, the driving force behind Qatar Racing who owns the son of Phoenix Reach in partnership with Kingsclere Racing, was quick to praise the colt after an emphatic victory in the final domestic Group 1 race of the season.
Elm Park raced close to the pace for Andrea Atzeni before taking it up two furlongs out and forging clear to win easily. The Andrew Balding-trained colt is now is as short as 10-1 for the 2015 Investec Derby for which he is best-priced at 16-1 with Paddy Power.
“I haven’t seen a horse gallop like that. He glides through the ground and his mental ability and calmness for a two-year-old is quite remarkable,” Sheikh Fahad said on his website.
“In terms of next year’s Derby that is the best performance by a two-year-old this season.”
Elm Park’s win secured the first British Group 1 for Qatar Racing – and Sheikh Fahad has high hopes for next year.
“Like any operation it has needed time and we knew this would be a year of quality not quantity,” he continued. “We’ve got the best bunch of two-year-olds to look forward to at three next year.
“I’ve a great team behind me, and when a horse becomes available we look at the form and the ratings and have a discussion. I have the final say, but it’s a team decision.”
Elm Park’s victory was the second successive win in this race for Atzeni who won it last year on Kingston Hill and who takes over from the retiring Jamie Spencer as Qatar Racing’s first jockey at the end of the year.
“He travelled beautifully and I kept it simple – it was like riding a piece of work,” Atzeni said after the two and three quarter length victory. “Winning this means a lot after taking the new job.”
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