As many of you racing historians will know, it was not uncommon in days gone by for a horse to run in several races over the length of a meeting, and indeed that some races might have heats or be run as “best of three”. Thus, today of all days, one should bear in mind the following, written in 1909. “The most considerable sum, ever won by the great racing public of small means was when Voltigeur won the St. Leger in 1850. The excitement during the deciding heat with Russborough was probably the greatest ever seen on any race-course; and on the evening of the following day, when he won the Doncaster Cup, beating the Flying Dutchman, many of the Yorkshiremen caroused all night. As one of them said, “Who’d go to bed when Voltigeur’s won the St. Leger and the Cup?“”
What a time to have lived. Todays carefully selected recommendations for those of both small and large means are as follows:
13:50 William Hill Portland Handicap (3yo+, Class 2, 5f 143y, 22 runners)
This is quite a strong trends race and I narrowed it down to seven initially. In racecard numbers they were 5-7-9-10-11-14-16. With 14 of the last 17 winners coming from double-digit stalls, I’m left with just OPEN WIDE – GREEN POWER – JUSTANOTHERBOTTLE – EQUITATION.
GREEN POWER is 0/9 on G/F ground and neither jockey nor horse inspires confidence in large field sizes. There is nothing in JUSTANOTHERBOTTLE to suggest that he can win a C2 race of this depth. Which leaves two. OPEN WIDE was 2nd in The Stewards Cup and since June hasn’t been out of the frame on ground that hasn’t had the word Soft attached to it. EQUITATION benefits from the same excellent and now confident apprentice that gave him a 2½l victory LTO. Both will carry some e/w money.
Without the trends, there is some merit in A MOMENTOFMADNESS from Charlie Hills yard, who won this last year and is now 4lbs lower. He got tucked up at York LTO by going too quick and then trying to beat Dakota Gold for too long, He has obvious claims and benefits from Buick who has ridden his last three wins. He does, however, have to beat the curse of the age stats, and avoid a speed duel. With many bookies offering 5/6 places, I’d have a saver here.
14:25 HIRD Rail Group Park Stakes (Group 2) (3yo+, Class 1, 7f 6y, 6 runners)
As with all certainties, SHINE SO BRIGHT appears to set the standard here, but now carries a 3lb penalty, and I have my doubts about the track. TURJOMAAN has been supplemented for this and although he looked unfinished at Goodwood, there was a lot to like. About this time of year, or sales time as it is known, Aidan O’Brien seems to bring his season to a decent end. The lightly raced NEVER NO MORE is therefore of interest. He beat Madhmoon in the Leopardstown Guineas Trial, had a four-month break, had a bad race in America in the Secretariat LTO and I suspect has had this race earmarked for him as his sprinting Group race. Frankly, if only on price, I see more upsides for Aidan’s runner and I will do the two highlighted in a forecast as well.
2:45CHELMSFORD (AW) POLYTRACK luxdeco.com Elsenham Handicap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 7f 13 runners
This is trickier than a tricky race being run at Trickyfield Park on a tricky surface. Saeed won this last year and pops in PIECE OF HISTORY who I suspect will go off favourite. He definitely should be 4/1 and anyone who has seen him race since being gelded is more than aware that he is a better horse. He is now back on the same mark as his narrow defeat by subsequent Lincoln winner, Auxerre and they were both in front of Hannon’s WAR GLORY, the other candidate for favouritism. BUSBY making the frame wouldn’t surprise me.
15:00 Pommery Champagne Stakes (Group 2) (2yo, Class 1, 7f 6y, 5 runners)
Some of the golfers among you might be familiar with ROYAL DORNOCH, one of the finest Links courses in the world, but glaringly deficient in the high level of infrastructure needed to be considered a PGA championship course. There I played one of the only two rounds of golf I have ever attempted, and my host was a member of some standing and the father of a commercial diver as well as a hard-drinking chum. My host was also the licencing magistrate, ate quite a lot of fresh game, thanks to his keeping the local poacher from the hands of the law and, above all, he was a true Highlander. We duly arrived at the club, having had a ten o’clock sharpener of a single malt that you could set fire to with a smile, and as we came through the Club’s main door, he spied the Club Secretary standing in the bar by the, thankfully half-open, French windows. With a bellow, he hurled himself across the room and then flung the Secretary through the windows, with much invective and cursing. The Secretary’s crime was to be wearing a pair of Tartan plus-fours, which my host considered an English aberration invented by the Half-Prince, as he called King Edward VIII. Much as the Secretary, I don’t see ROYAL DORNOCH cutting the mustard.
THREAT will be the favourite but carries a penalty and prior to the Gimcrack had, let’s not forget, been beaten in Group company. So who to beat him? For me, ROYAL CRUSADE is the one who, on looks alone, has the hallmark of great potential. JUAN ELCANO didn’t run an ugly race in the Superlative and I got the impression he needs a good flat track. Welcome to Donny!
15:35 William Hill St Leger Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (3yo, Class 1, 1m 6f 115y, 8 runners)
Two races, The Gordon Stakes and Great Voltigeur have often produced the Leger winner and LOGICIAN‘s victory was more than eye-catching. He’ strong on trends, he’s got Gosden on his side… but he’s a dismal price. The only horse that meets all my trends is Martyn Meade’s TECHNICIAN. He handled the distance LTO, looks to be improving and is certainly a decent price – on soft ground or at least with some cut. Regrettably, I’m going to swerve it and have a look at the third horse in the betting, IL PARADISO. He has won over further and I don’t think the drop back will be an issue. He ran Stradivarius to just over a length-and-a-quarter in a small field G1 at York last month and he is currently around 10/1. At that price, he looks a decent each-way bet for my fellow-travellers
4.15 Leopardstown Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1)
I do find it bizarre that we live in a world full of bleating about rich bastards and Corbynista acolytes desperate to cap earnings in the boardroom, yet these heroes of the people will NEVER consider tackling the ludicrous wages of 19 yo Premier League footballers. Sometimes I just wonder whether the winner of a G1 race, who is going to stud to continue earning fortunes for the owners, really needs 712,500 euros to win this. God, I hope I haven’t caught something Liberal!
MAGICAL meets all the trends, is well-in on the weights, and could easily make this her third G1 race. Currently 2/1, that seems a really decent price and I can’t believe it will last. ANTHONY VAN DYCK was a huge disappointment LTO, but I put that down to first-time cheekpieces and too soft a surface. One expert has pointed out he’s best going left-handed and at the price, I’m happy to invest a little e/w. I was scuppered at Goodwood by DEIRDRE in the Nassau, having lost money on her at Ascot. My Goodwood chums were all on, but seemed to have left me out of the round-robin saying “Get on Big, Get on Early!” At around 12s I might seek recompense.