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Monday 18 December 2017

Punters chase hounds' scent

All the major players have stood their ground in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster tomorrow as one of Britain's top juvenile Group One races is amazingly dominated by four Irish contenders.

Michael Halford's Kildare-based Casamento had headed the ante-post betting earlier this week following his supplementary entry and the booking of Frankie Dettori, while Dunboyne Express was also prominent.

In recent days, though, continuous support for Aidan O'Brien's Master Of Hounds has been very significant and he is now as short as 6/1 for the 10-runner contest.



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Casamento was first seen in public in late August, on that occasion winning his maiden making virtually all of the running at Tipperary.

Since then, he was narrowly denied by the classy Pathfork in the Group One Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh and has won the Group Two Beresford Stakes making him a worthy favourite for a worthy trainer.

Dunboyne Express had race gamble Master Of Hounds a short head behind when they met at Leopardstown back in June and is a two-time winner but off the track since July.

The National Stakes and Beresford Stakes were both overlooked with tomorrow's assignment favoured and only time will tell if he can frank that form with the apparent Ballydoyle first string.

However, despite being the subject of much support and the mount of current stable jockey Johnny Murtagh, Master Of Hounds is still behind his stable companion Seville with some bookmakers.

Master Of Hounds took four attempts to open his account and did so as a 1/7 favourite at Tipperary in July after bold showings prior to that, including a run behind Roderic O'Connor who franked the form last week in the Dewhurst Stakes behind Frankel.

Master Of Hounds has obviously shown a lot in recent weeks to attract Murtagh and the punters and it will be interesting to see what twist he puts on the Frankel form.

Seville made an eye-catching debut, and was very impressive in getting off the mark earlier this month again at Tipperary, but must appear to be the stable's second string on jockey bookings.

The shortest price English runner is the fifth favourite for the race which is hard to believe and it has turned out to be a plum spare ride for Paul Hanagan as he will partner the Ed Dunlop-trained Native Khan.

A two-time winner from as many starts, Hanagan deputises for the injured Eddie Ahern as Kieren Fallon has opted to ride Brian Meehan's Titus Mills, also unbeaten in two starts to date.

Opinions are divided as regards predicting a winner, and valid cases can be made for the opening six in the betting. It's hard to see any of the four outsiders causing a shock, while whoever is tomorrow's winner will not be upsetting Henry Cecil too much as Frankel recovers from his exploits last week.

Still, intriguing all the same and you are best advised to be watching tomorrow at 2.55pm tomorrow.

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