Tag Archives: Irish Derby

Irish Derby 2022 Review

The 2022 Irish Derby saw a dominant winner in Westover. Arguably an unlucky horse at Epsom, he demolished his seven rivals at the Curragh.

He looked a proper Derby horse on Saturday, and not, as some suggested, a Leger type. There were also question marks over the suitability of the Curragh. Personally I felt the stiff finish and the galloping nature of the track would suit really well.

That turned out to be true. Westover looked extremely comfortable, and the track played to his strengths more than anything else.

Westover

The true merit of the performance will come to the fore as the season goes on. Main rival Tuesday didn’t fire. The filly couldn’t back up her strong Oaks victory. Perhaps she didn’t recover in time, given she also ran in both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas earlier this year. This was probably one race too many.

Regardless, the fact is Westover was more than entitled to win even against a peak Tuesday. She had opportunities in the Group 1 races but couldn’t crack the topspeed 100 mark yet. She’s probably much better over 10 furlongs anyway, if given the opportunity.

In the absence of a true rival it was more the visual impression that “wowed” the crowd. Whether Westover would have been good enough to win the Epsom Derby with a clear run is pure speculation.

Nonetheless, I think all racing fans will be hoping that we get a “rematch” with Desert Crown at some point this season. Such a clash looks much more open after the Irish Derby. Not to forget 3-year-old horses improve at a different pace throughout the year, so things can look different the next time these two meet.

Given Westover’s excellent performances at Epsom and the Curragh it makes me wonder how good Cash could be. He was one of my Five To Follow this season and he ran a huge race in the Sandown Classic Trial when runner-up behind Westover.

He didn’t make it to Epsom and neither to Chantilly, having picked up an injury in the meantime. David Simcock said they’ll be patient and target Ascot in autumn. He’ll stay in training next year, most likely. It will be exciting to find out how far Cash can go.

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Eyecatchers:

Some horses caught my eye at the Curragh on Saturday. Want to give a quite shoutout to them (I’m not doing the weekly eyecatchers at the moment due to time constraints) for those interested to keep an eye on them.

Power Under Me
1.25 – 6 furlongs, Listed

Was early on isolated on the stand’s side racing without cover. Chased the fast pace, travelled pretty well until put under pressure from 1.5f out. Battled to the line but had to let two horses pass. Fared best from those close to the pace. First and second came from off the pace.

This is probably his level. Perhaps able to be competitive in Group 3, but found out in higher grade last time out despite some excuses. 6f with a bit of ease in the ground most likely the ideal scenario.

Raadobarg
2.35 – 1 mile, Listed

Raced in midfield most of the race which developed further up field. Had too much do in the home straight but ran on well from his disadvantaged position. He gave the impression would he had tracked the eventual placed horses a bit closer he could have been seriously involved in the finish.

Was desperately unlucky last time out in France when badly hampered in the moment he was coming with his run to potentially win the race. Looks still improving. 7 furlongs to a mile will all be fine, but ideally with ease in the ground. In fact the softer the better.

Boundless Ocean
3.45 – 1m 4f, Group 1

Raced in last position dropped in, was keen at different stages of the race, although a little bit better settled than in other races this year. Had a lot to do from the back of the field turning for home given the race was won at the frontend. Made a good looking move from three furlongs out until emptying in the closing stages.

He’s a difficult colt to ride it seems. Can miss the break and often pulls really hard for his head. But he has clearly talent. Was a bit unlucky in the Gallinule Stakes when short of room at a crucial stage and pulled way too hard over 12 furlongs when runner-up lto. Unlikely to stay 12f with his demeanour but could be underestimated over 10 furlongs.

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Irish Derby day Photos:

©Florian Christoph

Saturday Selections: 25th June 2022

I am currently going through the worst slump of “form” in the last half a decade or so of my serious “betting career”. It starts to become farcical. Even though the first three months of my 2022 betting year (March, April, May) were all green, June wears me down.

It’s just not working. Or something of the process isn’t working. The initial stage of video analysis and identifying potential horses for future opportunities works extremely well. The eye-catchers perform as well as never before, actually. But I don’t back them. It seems right now I have lost the touch for making good decisions.

Some days I am too conservative, others not patient enough. There’s the odd winner here or there, but they don’t offset the losing days. Their prices are too low, or more the fact of the matter is I don’t get “value”.

I never had a high strike rate, often back bigger prices. It’s inevitable that you have dry spells. But if things go so badly wrong for an entire month as they do right now it’s not all down to “bad luck” or variance. It’s down to poor decisions too. Not sure how to rectify this at the moment.

Hopefully things will turn around. But hoping is fearing. And I somehow fear I lost it. I see this also reflected in how the prices I take compare to ISP and BSP. Doesn’t make for good reading. I used to beat them regularly with my selections in the past. Doesn’t happen at the moment.

That’s a little ramble I had to get off the chest. Well, it’s Irish Derby Derby. I am excited going down to the Curragh no matter what. The race looks a compelling edition. Although I stay away from it betting wise. Here’s hoping those betting decision I have made for Sturday will turn out to be good ones, though.

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3.30 Newcastle: Class 2 Handicap, 2m

Bandinelli shaped a lot better at Ascot than the 6.5 lengths beaten performance suggested. He was clearly minded in the closing stages after it became obvious that he couldn’t win.

From a wide draw he moved across quickly to chase the pace but was caught wide around the first bend. He raced wide for the majority of the race. He made a good looking move into the home straight but wasn’t able to sustain it.

Back over two miles on the All-Weather he looks dangerous. Still rather unexposed over the trip, his excellent record on the sand gives him a better chance than the price if he can only find a tiny bit of improvement, which is far from impossible.

A good draw will ensure he can find a good early position somewhere behind the leaders, in fourth or fifth perhaps. I think he will run a massive race and is undervalued in the market.

10pts win- Bandinelli @ 22/1

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2.35 Curragh: Listed Celebration Stakes, 1m

The arriving rain makes this interesting, otherwise this listed contest would be quite a dull and poor renewal. It is a near certainty – unless they absolutely crawl – that Straight Answer doesn’t stay a mile, certainly not up the stiff Curragh finish.

The two standout horses in the field are 4-year old Raadobarg on one side. The more rain the better for him. He’s clearly a rock solid miler at this level and especially dangerous with significant ease in the ground.

At this point in time it’s not quite clear how soft the going will turn out. There’s a status yellow rain warning live for then next 20 hours. It sounds more like some isolated showers are coming, that’s for sure.

The rain brings Irish 2000 Guineas 4th Wexford Native into the equation too. He’s probably best with some ease in the going too and still offers some upside with more improvement to come.

He could be the sort that thrives on racing, given he has improved nearly with each race this season. You can put a line through the Royal Ascot performance. His cause was lost after the first furlong.

After an impressive debut win in March, he was comprehensively beaten by Buckaroo in Listed company, although he ran on well, even after being short of room over 1f out.

In the 2000 Guineas he tracked the pace, got closer with each passing furlong and fought gamely, still challenging Native Trail entering the final furlong. He tired but fared much the best of those closer to the pace and that performance can be marked up in my view.

Wexford Native can be quite keen and fighting for his head. I hope that with experience and maturity he can settle better. He will probably be close to the pace again, given he doesn’t have a turn of foot and looks more a grinder. Probably ridden sooner than most rivals he should be able to grind his way to the line making it a proper test. He has enough class to win.

10pts win – Wexford Native @ 4/1

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4.20 Curragh: Group 3 International Stakes, 1m 2f

Mac Swiney can give Jim Bolger a double on the card. He drops significantly in class here. He was a long way beaten in the highly competitive Tattersalls Gold Cup but that was his comeback run and I would expect him to improve,

He won the Irish 2000 Guineas last year, was a credible 4th in the Epsom Derby, although perhaps not quite staying the trip, and finished a fine 3rd in the Champions Stakes. He’s a proven top level performer.

The rain will surely aid his chances. The more the better, of course. Even if doesn’t turn properly soft, he simply looks a class above the rest in this field.

10pts win – Mac Swiney @ 10/3

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7.15 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Gold Charm took well to the step up in trip to 12 furlongs the last time at Thirsk. She finished the strongest after being briefly flat footed over 2 furlongs out

With that performance she confirmed the promise she showed in her Handicap debut at Lingfield a few weeks earlier. She caught my eye that day when she travelled stylishly into the home straight and finished much the best.

She has plenty of stamina in her pedigree, and matching that with the visual impression of her last two races it’s clear the 1m 4f trip doesn’t pose any problems. The return to the Lingfield polytrack is a positive and this in combination with the trip can unlock improvement.

10pts win – Gold Charm @ 9/2

King George 2021

The 2021 edition of the King George has something special in store for us racing fans. The best of the older horses versus a strong classic generation.

Naturally all eyes are on Derby winner Adayar. He romped home at Epsom in stunning fashion. Was that a real performance? The form has been franked through third placed Hurricane Lane, who won races of the highest order in the meantime.

It was a strange race, nonetheless. The aforementioned Hurricane Lane lost a shoe, the favourite Bolshoi Ballet completely misfired and the runner-up was a maiden who was subsequently trounced in the Irish Derby.

Lone Eagle, second in the Irish Derby, is the other 3-year-old in the field. He got first run on his rivals at the Curragh and with two furlongs to go looked like to have won the race. Only in the dying strides was he caught by a fast finishing Hurricane Lane.

It was a thrilling finish and Lone Eagle didn’t lose anything in defeat. In fact, he achieved a 113 topspeed rating, which isn’t far behind the 116 rating Adayar received for his Derby victory. Topspeed-wise those are the two highest ratings on offer in the King George field.

The older generation is clearly lead by Love. The winner of the 1000 Guineas, English Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks last year, and the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on her seasonal reappearance last month, she’s also joint top-rated, together with Mishriff.

Love won’t mind the the step up to the 1m 4f trip. In fact, her career -best performance was the 2020 Oaks success. Mishriff on the other hand, although a winner of the Sheema Classic earlier this year, may be at his best over shorter distances.

He has to give weight away too. However, Mishriff ran with plenty of credit in the Coral Eclipse where he was third behind brilliant St Mark’s Basilica coming off a break. He should be in perfect shape today.

The ground won’t turn soft enough to provide the sort of deep conditions Wonderful Tonight prefers. She is a multiple Group 1 winner though, and looked in excellent form when landing the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, so can’t be taken lightly, regardless.

Broome was second behind Wonderful Tonight at Ascot. He has since won the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. He enjoyed the run of the race, though, and I think over 1m 4f he has plenty to find with the market principles.

Conclusion:
I strongly fancy the classic generation to get the better of their elders. That says I’m not fully sure if If trust Adayar’s Derby performance. However, Lone Eagle’s Irish Derby performance appears rock solid. He should be right up with the pace once more and could be able to hold on this time. Hence at prices around 6/1 I’ll go with Loyal Eagle to win it for Frankie and Martyn Meade.

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3:15 York: York Stakes, Group 2

The best form on paper belongs to Armory. The four-year-old drops in class after a fine effort at Royal Ascot when third behind stablemate Love in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. He is unbeaten in Group races below top level and has been placed in multiple Group 1’s.

His Royal Ascot performance can possibly be marked up due to the way the race developed, which wasn’t quite ideal for Armory. Consequently, he achieved a career-highest 119 Racingpost Rating. He won really well at Chester on his season reappearance back in May as well.

That means, however, Armory has to give weight away to his rivals. No less than 12lb to exciting 3-year-old Mohaafeth.

This son of Frankel is unbeaten in 2021, having progressed with each and every run. From, winning a Novice contest to a first Handicap, to landing the Listed Newmarket Stakes to bag a Group 3 at Royal Ascot.

His Newmarket victories were visually really impressive. In fact Mohaafeth won the Newmarket Stakes in such taking fashion that he was catapulted near the top of the Epsom Derby market.

The ground turning soft that day ended his Derby dream, but he made up for it weeks later at Royal Ascot. He had to start racing earlier than ideal and hang to the right in the closing stages.

He ran to a101 topspeed rating then, the highest any horse has achieved in the York Stakes field. In anticipation of more improvement to come and the weight he receives from his rivals, Mohaafeth looks certainly the one to beat.

Although, Juan Elcano shouldn’t be entirely dismissed. He has found back to the winning ways having responded to wind op. On the other hand it’s hard to see Montatham – likely employed as Mohaafeth’s pacemaker – or the other outsider Bangkok getting involved.

Conclusion:
As long as there isn’t any sufficient amount of rain it’s hard to look past the progressive Mohaafeth. He has things in his favour and looks the sort to improve again.

Preview: Irish Derby 2019

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Hello there, it’s Irish Derby Day! Let me tell you: this is an exciting day! Why? Well, the excitement really comes from all angles. Sure, we have the classy racing and the race itself – the Derby, off at 5.20pm – which shapes like a red hot renewal. But probably even more so, I feel, it’s a day when the new Curragh has the chance to delight.

Properly tested for the first time, it’ll be quite exciting to see how this unfolds: tested in a sense of how do facilities hold up when a large crowd is in attendance. Tested in a sense whether a large crowd actually materialise in first place. Attendance figures for Thursday and Friday were low. That was to be expected. Derby Saturday, on the other hand, has always seen a healthy crowd over the years.

Now that the new Curragh is firmly established, the weather – hopefully – balmy and dry in the afternoon, there really is no excuse for not attracting a solid double figure crowd today.

Curragh officials haven’t been particularly outgoing with their own expectations: 6-10.000 is what they are hoping for, officially. I’m sure behind close doors they’d be disappointed if there’ll be not in access of 10.000 in attendance today.

Tickets were €23 if you bought online in advance – that’s a cracking offer, to be fair. I’ve been critical of the Curragh and its pricing policy in the past. Likely will be in the future again. But this is a sensational offer. 23 bucks for what’s going to be an outstanding day of racing action at a modern, top-class venue – unbeatable!

The racing itself, as said there earlier, I feel strong about as well: the Derby aside, which I’ll preview in detail below, the supporting races hold up. Competitive handicaps that certainly offer value, plus some strong stakes races, particularly the intriguing renewal of the Railway Stakes – truth told I’m as keen driving down the N7 to the Curragh as haven’t been for a long time!

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5.20 Curragh: Irish Derby, 1m 4f

An exciting re-match looms large at the Curragh this afternoon as the 2019 Epsom Derby winner, runner-up and close 4th meet again. In those circumstances it doesn’t really matter that five of the eight starters belong to the same yard. This is all about Anthony Van Dyck vs. Madhmoon vs. Broome!

Can Anthony Van Dyck do the Derby double? I’ve never been the biggest fan of his: I opposed him in the Lingfield Derby Trial and even more so for the Epsom Classic. How dare I doubt a Galileo?!

Truth told, Anthony Van Dyck is rock solid – I’ve to concede. He already was a rock solid contender for the Derby. He’s even more so today. Because: he’s done it again and again, particularly taking all the relevant metrics into account: he’s ran three times to topspeed ratings of 100+ and he matched a 110+ RPR on four occasions also. He clearly is rather decent.

Hence the main characteristics of Anthony Van Dyck are “solid” and “consistent”. He usually runs as well, if not better, than expected – leaving a disappointing debut and Breeder’s Cup effort aside. You can also see why it’s difficult for people – like myself – to warm to him and (maybe) give him the full credit he probably deserves: this colt is as unsexy a Derby winner as I can remember for quite some time!

Now, perception aside, as alluded earlier, on ratings (and reputation, given he is the reigning Epsom Derby champ), Anthony Van Dyck is a firm favourite today. Undoubtedly. On the other hand: A 5/4 chance – really? I don’t think so. Sorry. I’ve got to oppose this lad once more.

Reasons are rather obvious: yes, on ratings he tops the field. But he’s not miles ahead of Madhmoon and Broome. He’s consistent, running to the same sort of form over and over again – if any of his main rivals can find any bit of improvement, he’s in trouble because as solid as AVD is, it appears unlikely he’s one with any additional upside.

And the Epsom race itself: Anthony Van Dyck looked a beaten horse two furlong out. He seemed to take full advantage of an opening with less than two furlongs to go, his jockey making a superb decision in the moment of the heat, maneuvering AVD out, sizing the opportunity for a clear passage.

AVD responded strongly and probably profited from the fact that he avoided the ding-dong battle that happened to his right side. The others didn’t quite see or notice him I suspect- they were locked up in their own little battle – while Anthony Van Dyck was too far able to finish his own race with the guidance of the rail.

Well, that’s my interpretation, at least. Anthony Van Dyck is a really good horse, no doubt. He’s certainly no world beater either. Even though he comes out on top in the ratings, his career highest top speed rating is nothing to shout about. If you’d run the Epsom Derby ten times from the moment the field turns for home you’ll probably get a different outcome any time – Anthony Van Dyck wouldn’t be as ‘lucky’ again, I suspect.

Okay, so we have that out of the way, which begs the question: who wins the 2019 Irish Derby? Obviously it would be an emotional victory if Madhmoon could land the big price for his veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast.

Madhmoon travelled much the best over three furlongs out in the Epsom race – travelling surprisingly well, because I have to admit –  I was wrong in doubting this lad to be good enough and/or stay the Derby distance. He duly did!

You can argue Madhmoon was a little bit unlucky, as he travelled so well, but had a rough passage from the three furlong marker on, having to fight for his position, squeezing through gaps, possibly lit up as a consequence – still he fought gamely to the line, and in our hypothetical game of running the race ten times again from the moment the field turns for home, you’d have to give Madhmoon a strong chance to come out on top a number of times.

Two issues I have with Madhmoon, though: despite the fact he is rather lightly, which may see him to progress further, he also had a number of opportunities to run fast already. He didn’t take these chances to run fast. A career highest topspeed rating of 99 – achieved in the Derby – is poor for a supposedly class act.

Further to this: my suspicion is Madhmoon will always show his best on a fast surface. With the rain we’ve got here in county Kildare over the last 15 hours or so, the ground may ride a bit too tacky for him.

While I fo see his potential for additional improvement, I also feel this is already reflected in his odds: 5/2. I can not make a case where I see him a better chance than that, at all.

Before moving to my preferred selection, a quick glance further down the market, to the outsiders in this field: realistically none of the long-shots should have a say here. You could make a case – with a bit of imagination certainly – for Norway to bounce back. At 50’s he’d be a decent each-way shout. But he’s 33’s in the betting. Which is only fair.

Truth told: none of the long-shots is good enough. Of course, it can happen from time to time that a pace setter proves difficult to peg back, particularly at the Curragh. Still, I struggle to make out a viable each-way alternative at given prices.

So, that leaves Broome as the one for me. The negative first: what I said about Madhmoon can be copied and placed here to count against Broome as well: for a supposedly class horse he’s yet to run particularly fast. A TS rating of 97 and an RPR of 117 – he needs to improve today.

Can he? I think if one of this trio is able to break out and move significantly forward it’s him. The reason for this is a simple one: he looked a fair prospect as a juvenile, but was always sure to show his best as a 3-year-old stepping up in trip. And so he did: Broome won the Ballysax and Derby Trial at Leopardstown in fine style, without breaking sweat.

On Derby day Broome was one of the more unlucky sorts. Not massively hampered or anything of that sort, but he was always travelling wider than ideal, covering extra distance and turning quite wide for home as well.

Taking that into account as well as the visual impression of him staying on strongly in the final furlong plus the fact he was beaten by a close margin and hitting the line with full momentum, potentially winning if the race is a few yards longer, is enough for me to believe Broome is the one with the most upside today.

There is a good chance he’s a dour stayer who prefers the Leger trip. On the other hand, with the bit of rain that’s falling, hopefully a strong pace and a stiff uphill finish at the Curragh, I strongly feel the conditions are right for him to shine.

Selection:
10pts win – Broome @ 10/3 PP

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The rest of the Curragh card: I don’t fancy anything as much as that I would back them at my usual stake. I placed some accumulators win and each/way (the bigger priced ones) to keep me entertained for the other races. That includes’s: 

1.45: Twenty Minutes; 2.20 Beckford; 2.55: Old Glory; 3.30: Global Giant; 4.05: King’s Field; 4.40: Fort Myers; 6.00: Mutadaffeq  

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2.35 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

This is a highly competitive race, but I feel the horse at the bottom of the market is grossly underappreciated, as Wild Eric now drops to the minimum trip for the first time, which I believe will suit this pacey front-runner down to the grounds.

The 3-year-old is already course winner, albeit over a furlong further; he’s been disappointing in three starts this year, but now drops below the 80 rating barrier that sees him racing off a feather weight in this race today.

Wild Eric ran to topspeed 84 last season. If the trip revitalizes him and he can come close to that he’ll be hard to beat today from a top draw, I firmly believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Wild Eric @ 15/2 MB

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7.30 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

He’s yet to show any sort of that form that saw him become a mid-90 rated sprinter as a three-year-old, but now dropping to to a handy mark as well as dropping to a class 4 Handicap, Roundhay Park appears ripe for a big run today.

Even though he hasn’t been in the money in four starts this year, I’d argue his 6th place finish at York in an ultra-competitive race back in May shows there remains plenty of ability and appetite for the game.

The good ground will suit at Doncaster today and this is a much easier race than anything he’s encountered this season so far. A mark of 85 with a good 5lb claimer in the saddle will see him go close.

Selection:
10pts win – Roundhay Park @ 13/2 MB

Preview: Juddmonte International 2018

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This is not a vintage renewal of the Juddmonte International… as so many other major flat races this year. It feels a bit like a flat flat season, so to speak. I seem not to be the only one who feels this way. On the other hand, the question could be asked: are we undervaluing the achievements of Poet’s Voice?

Possibly. Possibly not. Possibly because he’s a five-year old, around for a long time, and this sudden improvement which has seen the Stoute inmate landing two major Group 1 races on the bounce – the Prince of Wales and King George – hasn’t caused the same excitement as they would have if a sexy Ballydoyle three-year old would have done the same.

Possibly not, though, because the key rivals he’s beaten at Royal Ascot were clearly out of form and not quite up to the standard you’d usually see in a King George either.

I’m sitting on the fence here. I don’t rate the Royal Ascot success all that highly, although felt Poet’s Voice King George success was a stunning performance, if only visually. Coming from off the pace, to peg back a fine Ledger runner-up, who got first run – that was quite something.

That says, I do not think Poet’s Voice has suddenly found all this dramatic improvement over the last winter, that has resulted in him shooting up the ratings from a 119 rated individual to a world-class high 130.

In fact, I do firmly believe – while acknowledging he seems to improve with age – he is not dramatically better than his runner-up performance in the Irish Champion Stakes last year. A view that may not be shared by many.

What does this mean in the context of this race today? It means that the gap between Poet’s Voice and the leading three-year old’s going to post isn’t as high as the official ratings says. And if that is the assumption then both Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior in particular must have cracking chances to overturn the favourite as they receive 7lb through weight for age.

While Benbatl and Irish Derby winner Latrobe can’t be underestimated, my view is that the Eclipse first and second are the main dangers to short priced favourite Poet’s Voice.

Personally I am more a fan of Roaring Lion but from a betting perspective I have to concede the price for Saxon Warrior is foolish. Let’s not forget there was only a neck between the pair at Sandown.

One could make cases for the Ballydoyle horses had the run of the race, or that Roaring Lion drifted to his right pushing Saxon Warrior toward the rails in the closing stages which may have cost him momentum.

Either way, there is clearly not a lot between these two. However the betting would suggest Roaring Lion is a couple of lengths better than the reigning 2000 Guineas winner. Not in my book.

The trip may be in favour of Roaring Lion, and also Poet’s Voice. Or is it? Saxon Warrior stays the trip as good as these two I believe. Given he had a good break now and comes here relatively fresh is a positive.

After all there is very little between three three market principles in my view.  Hence the 6/1 on offer for last years Racingpost Trophy winner is over the top.

Selection: 
10pts win – Saxon Warrior @ 6/1 PP

Saturday Selections: St. Leger Day 2017

atzeni

1.30 Chester: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

This type of race in this type of conditions won’t suit many in this field, but favourite Show Palace has a prime chance to bounce back to form. He already won three times this year and loves the mud plus looks still to have a bit more to offer with the right conditions.

Franny Norton in the saddle is another bonus, while the positive draw enhances his chances even further.

Selection: 
10pts win – Show Palace @ 3/1 Skybet

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2.40 Chester: Listed Stand Cup Stakes, 1m 4f 

Group 3 winning Duretto proves popular with punters though the well exposed and less sexy Soldier In Action is a better bet in my book. He thrives in tough conditions like the ones to expect at Chester today and stays all day long.

He didn’t land a blow in the Ebor, however won a tough handicap the same month of a mark off 106. So he’s clearly a smart operator. Rated within three pounds of Duretto, match fitness might prove and advantage for Mark Johnston’s inmate, I believe.

Selection:
10ts win – Soldier In Action @ 11/4 Paddy Power

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3.35 Doncaster: Group 1 St. Leger, 1m 6.5f

This years St. Leger shapes as an intriguing contest with five, six horses closely matched on ratings. No doubt, Irish Derby winner Capri warrants plenty of respect, though the ever improving Crystal Ocean, Stradivarius, Defoe and the filly Coronet all real chances to improve again with a big shout over the Leger trip.

However is the forgotten horse in the race another Ballydoyle runner? Venice Beach doesn’t get any love leading up to the race, even though he has some excellent form in the book too.

Sure, he looks short of top class over a mile and a quarter, however he shapes like a grinder who’s crying out for the trip. Watch back the Grand Prix de Paris, where he looked outpaced and beaten in the home straight. Yet he fought back gamely, found more and more and finished an excellent third.

At York in the Voltigeur he wasn’t a match for Cracksman. But he finished a clear second of some decent individuals. It might turn out that he simply is not a Group 1 animal, that says the trip and ground in combination make him a big danger to anyone in this field, I feel.

Selection:
10pts win – Venice Beach @ 14/1 Bet365

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5.15 Musselburgh: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 6f

I’ve been keen on Dominating the last time at York in the Melrose Handicap, though he flopped that day. We can draw a line through that I feel, though, given it was a very hot race. This is easier and it remains the fact that Irish St. Leger winner Jukebox Jury has an outstanding record with his first crop of three year old’s in Britain.

Contributing towards this has been the Mark Johnston trained Dominating himself, as he has won already three times this year, including over the 1m 6f trip and at Musselburgh.

I don’t think conditions will be an issue for him, in case the rain arrives. He didn’t perform the one time he raced on soft ground, but on pedigree it looks fine and he’s a different horse now, I believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Dominating @ 9/2 Bet365