10/23/2009 11:00PM

St Nicholas Abbey proves he's Europe's best

Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
St Nicholas Abbey pulls off impressively at Doncaster on Saturday to win the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy, drawing comparisons to last year's winner Sea the Stars.

St Nicholas Abbey more than lived up to his advance billing at Doncaster on Saturday when he came from last-to-first on the bridle to win the $332,000 Racing Post Trophy. Johnny Murtagh never raised his whip as the Montjeu colt stormed clear for a 3 3/4-length victory in the Group 1 mile for 2-year-olds.

That St Nicholas Abbey is the best juvenile in Europe there can be no doubt. Comparisons to Sea the Stars are inevitable, even at this early date, as St Nicholas Abbey had previously won the one-mile, Group 2 Beresford Stakes at the Curragh, the race with which Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Sea the Stars concluded his 2008 juvenile campaign.

Trained by Aidan O'Brien and running in the purple and white colors of his principal owner Derrick Smith, the 13-8 St Nicholas Abbey was patiently ridden at the back of the 11-runner field as Al Zir's stablemate Al Ghazal cut out the early fractions. St Nicholas Abbey began to thread his way through the field at the quarter pole and led approaching the furlong marker, from which point things became academic. Nothing could stay with the winner, who showed Sea the Stars-like acceleration.

The runner-up was Elusive Pimpernel, winner of York's Group 3 Acomb Stakes. Godolphin's Al Zir, a $1.6 million son of Medaglia d'Oro and a half-brother to Forego Handicap winner Midas Eyes, lost for the first time in three starts by finishing third, beaten 6 1/4 lengths. The winning time for the straight mile on good to soft ground was 1:39.62.

This is the fifth time that O'Brien has won the Racing Post Trophy. The first came with Saratoga Springs in 1997. Two years later he won with Aristotle, who is a half-brother to St Nicholas Abbey's dam, Leaping Water. O'Brien also won the race in 2001 with High Chaparral and a year later with subsequent St. Leger winner Brian Boru.

Afterwards, O'Brien termed St Nicholas Abbey "an unbelievably special horse." Named for a 17th Century mansion in Barbados, he is now the favorite with every British bookmaker for both the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby, races which were won this year by Sea the Stars.