By Simon Jackson at Sandown Park.
Elm Park bagged his first win since last year’s Group 1 Racing Post Trophy when he landed the one mile Listed feature race at Sandown Park on Wednesday.
The two length victory in the field reduced to four runners due to the wet conditions heralded a welcome return for the Andrew Balding-trained colt who raced close to the pace for Andrea Atzeni before asserting inside the final furlong.
Champions Day is now the target for Elm Park who earlier this season finished third in the Betfred Dante Stakes behind Jack Hobbs and Golden Horn, but has not raced since beating just one horse home in the Investec Derby, won by Golden Horn from stablemate Jack Hobbs.
The manner of the Sandown victory pleased Balding, whose charge is into 10-1 (from 12-1) with Paddy Power for the Champion Stakes and 16-1 (from 33-1) for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot on October 17.
“Andrea is very happy with him and we are very pleased,” Balding said.
“He is in two races on Champions Day and we will train him for that day and will make a decision that week on which race we run in.
“He has won a Group 1 over a mile so is no slouch and a stiff mile on soft ground at Ascot might just suit him, but it also depends on the opposition.
“I think it will be an owner’s decision [as to which race he runs in] nearer the time. That will have just blown the cobwebs away today and he will be in peak condition for Ascot.
“He was pretty sore after Epsom and we said that we would not even consider running until mid-September. The vet has done a great job with him as has the team at home and he has been moving fantastically in his work for the past month.”
Champions Day appears set to be his last race of the season but the son of Phoenix Reach may stay in training next season.
“It is an owner’s decision [on whether he races next year],” Balding added, “But I would have thought that he still has a lot to do on the track.”
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