We start the final chapter in this years St Leger meeting as we open proceedings with the two year old Group 2 race Champagne Stakes.
The red hot favourite is Godolphin’s unbeaten runner Emotionless. The maiden it won looks pretty decent with three rivals subsequently winning and four of them placing out of the nine that have gone on to race since. The horse has been a bit of a talking point as a potential superstar in the making and its current odds on price of 5/6 reflects it.
Of the rest of its rivals Charlie Hill’s has his horses doing well of present and Ibn Malik has a decent enough chance after two promising efforts but perhaps isn’t quite as classy at the favourite.
A mention also has to go for the heavily tried Palawan that promised a lot earlier in the season but finished a disappointing third of four in a race recently that hasn’t been franked form wise and may have had too hard a campaign.
Unfortunately there’s only seven entries so trying to look for place value becomes a tricky task and despite the very short price I just can’t escape from the favourite who may turn out to be one of Godolphins flagship horses for next season.
We take a detour from Yorkshire to Cheshire as the Channel 4 camera’s cover two live races from Chester of which the first is a class three, seven furlong handicap.
If you know anything about the tight course at Chester you’ll know that a low draw is ideal, especially when it comes to shorter distances and with that taken into consideration I’m discounting any horses drawn in stalls eight or higher.
With the top six horses priced in the market between 6/1 and 8/1 it shows just how close a contest this looks set to be. The current joint favourites are Green Howard and Spiriting. Green Howard hails from the lesser known yard of Rebecca Bastiman and showed, two starts back, that it retains its previous ability when finishing second of fifteen. However it disappointed subsequently and this unpredictability seems too much to contend with for a horse that still remains higher than its previous win.
Luca Cumani saddles the other favourite Spiriting who has been pretty constant throughout the season. As a three year old it has plenty of scope for improvement and the Cumani yard are doing well at present. This being said though the horse hasn’t ran over this trip before and wether it needs this distance I couldn’t be certain and is opposed today.
I’m plumping for two selections here, the first of which comes from a stable and an owner that absolutely farm handicap races on the Roudee. Richard Fahey and owner Dr Marwan Koukash send five year old Gabrial’s Kaka to a course it has had success at previously. Drawn in an advantageous draw in stall four and now racing off a handicap mark that is seven pounds lower than its last success. With the formidable apprentice Jack Garritty riding the horse and taking another three pounds off of its back it has a great chance today.
My second selection comes from the yard of David O’Meara who has had great success this season. King Torus put in a decent performance last time out and has dropped markedly down the handicap. The booking of James Doyle is also very interesting and although not having the best draw in stall seven still has a good each way shout.
Gabrial’s Kaka (E/W)
King Torus (E/W)
Returning to Doncaster for a big runner sprint handicap where twenty two runners are declared to line up.
After a very impressive second placed finish last time out B Fifty Two is the current favourite and rightly so as the Charlie Hills yard do well at this meeting. A win with Cotai Glory earlier in the week over the same course and distance proved the yard knows what they’re doing with their sprinters and the six year old could have a great chance.
The Hills stable also sends Lucky Beggar, a horse that has been consisted enough this year without making the frame. A drop in weight to a mark that sits six pounds lower than its previous success will help and the booking of in form jockey Harry Bentley aid’s its chances and that’s why I’m selecting both Hills horses today.
Of the remainder course and distance winner Willbeme will have a good chance based on its earlier runs this season and the David O’Meara trained four year old Highland Acclaim could also snatch a place.
Suzi’s Connoisseur was unlucky not to win last time out but may find this too tough a task and a final mention for Robot Boy who also has form at this venue and if recapturing it could trouble the main protagonists.
B Fifty Two (E/W)
Lucky Beggar (E/W)
Our second and final race shown live from Chester is a listed event.
In terms of trying to decipher this race it looks a bit of a messy affair with horses having very muddling form to say the least.
The current favourite, Secret Number, hasn’t been seen on the race course in some time and you have to worry about the horses fitness and the likelihood is it’ll need the run. That being said however its previous form looks good and is probably just the worthy favourite.
Ajman Bridge ran respectably last time and hails from a yard that is bang in form, however it hasn’t got its head in front for a while and it’s willingness to win is a worrying question that the horse will have to answer.
My selection in this definitely seems out of the ordinary but David Simcock has trained winners of much bigger races than this and I’m sure he won’t have sent Some Site here to be the proverbial whipping boy for its seven rivals. Obviously it has to make a huge step up on its previous performances but the yard have a current strike rate of 27% so clearly his horses are hitting their best stride. I understand that a price of 40/1 is astronomical but this lightly raced four year old should improve on its last performance and has more scope to improve than most of its rivals. If the trainer sees something in the horse at home that deems it worth enough to be thrown into listed company then so be it and I’ll take a chance on the outsider.
Some Site (E/W)
The penultimate race from Doncaster sees what can only be described as a routinely annoying sight in racing with the ever so wonderful fifteen runner race.
This Group 2 contest sees Henry Candy’s Limato return to action after somewhat of a muddling campaign and takes its long awaited step up to seven furlongs. A trip I feel the horse will definitely enjoy. A second behind Muhaarar isn’t anything to worry about considering they were on opposite sides of the track at Ascot that day. With wins over Cotai Glory and Mattmu that have both been franked as well as a loss to Adaay who has subsequently gone on the be successful again since reads as very good form and is a worthy favourite and one of my selections here.
I must admit however, despite selecting Limato it was a very close call between that runner and another three year old Home Of The Brave who did very well to win in Ireland last time out. Hugo Palmer’s yard is hitting the high notes and will be in the place money if sure.
As with Limato another horse that has finished a close second behind Adaay is Richard Hannon’s Coulsty. The horse will probably need the rain to fall but could run well at a bigger price for one of the UK’s top stables.
Naadir is an interesting runner with course and distance form. Despite the inconsistency of the horses performances I feel the Marco Botti runner could’ve slipped under the radar but this unpredictability doesn’t bode well as a good betting prospect.
Limato (E/W if 9/2+)
The big race of the day is saved for last as the final classic of the UK is run in this years St Leger.
Without seeming somewhat cruel to the other five rivals in the field it has been pitched as a three horse race. I have to admit that it is far from a vintage renewal but none the less we see two horses vying for favouritism just as they were vying for dominance in their previous clash at York.
Storm The Stars is representing William Haggas’s yard who have had a tremendous year this season. A narrow, if somewhat controversial, victory over Bondi Beach showed the horses tough and gritty attitude which should stand him in good stead for todays contest but after what has been a tough season I really am not sure if this step up in trip is actually what it needs. A worthy competitor but just not my idea of the winner.
My money is going on one of the Aiden O’Brien selections and I feel Bondi Beach can over turn the Haggas runner this time out. If Fields Of Athenry blazes a trail like I expect to then it could set it up nicely for a horse like Bondi Beach who gets the nod to be victorious in this years September showpiece.
Bondi Beach (WIN)