Andrew Balding’s Elm Park ran out a most impressive winner of the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.
Andrea Atzeni, successful 12 months ago on subsequent St Leger hero Kingston Hill, took a no-nonsense approach from the front, always travelling sweetly in the final Group One of the season in Britain.
That was still the case two furlongs from home and while Aloft had made progress from the rear, on hitting the furlong pole Atzeni’s mount (13-8 favourite) really lengthened to win in style by two and three-quarter lengths. Celestial Path ran a good race in third.
Atzeni, who will officially take on the role of number one jockey to Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing operation next season, said: “He’s very straightforward. He travelled nicely and I kept it simple, really. It was like riding a piece of work. He’s a beautiful mover and he’s got a great attitude. He can only get better with age.
“It meant a lot, taking a new job – it’s just amazing. I’ve won a Group Three race (in the colours) and now a Group One, before the job even starts!”
Balding is in Australia, and was represented by his father, Ian, who said: “He looks pretty good, doesn’t he? I’m just so thrilled. We’ve had five generations of this family. It’s lovely. To have bred him is much more special.
“He’s got the right temperament this horse, which is so important.
“Mill Reef had it, of course, in spades. He had a wonderful temperament. This fella certainly has it as well.
“Andrew does this job better than I do, so I won’t be telling him how to go about next year.
“Watching that you’d like to think he’d be a Guineas horse as well, but I don’t know. It’s up to the trainer and the owner. The only problem (with Epsom) is that he didn’t come down the Dip at Newmarket (in winning the Royal Lodge).”
Sheikh Fahad, who recently bought a significant share in the colt with the Kingsclere Racing Club, said: “I was just on the phone to Andrew (in Australia) and he is unbelievably thrilled. It’s a great day.
“I haven’t seen a horse go through the ground like that in my relatively new time in racing, he just glides through it. His mental calmness as a two-year-old is a great asset. I think logically that (the Derby) is the target. But it will be a long year next year, we’ll sit down with Ian and Andrew and the team and make a plan going forward.”
As well as Aloft, Aidan O’Brien also saddled fourth-placed Jacobean and said: “It was proper soft ground. Both horses will come on lovely from that.”
Sir Mark Prescott said of Celestial Path: “The ground wouldn’t have been up his street.
“The winner kept going wonderfully well and Aidan’s horse (Aloft) has just got us for second because we’d been in more of a battle with the one in front.
“I really think on lightning-fast ground he’ll be a bit better than that. It gives you hope. I said to the owner the pair of us will have to keep going.
“I was very pleased. I was worried about running him today, but he worked so well last week it would have been a shame not to run him.
“If he’s going well he’ll start in one of the Guineas. He won’t run before then. He doesn’t need any more practice.”