Tag Archives: Kevin Manning

Betting Preview: Champion Stakes

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3.30 Ascot: British Champion Stakes, 1m 2f

On paper this is likely a match between odds-on favourite Cracksman and top rated Crystal Ocean. It’s also the duel of the super sires Frankel vs. Sea The Stars.

Cracksman is the one who’s likely to enjoy the soft going the little more. First time blinkers after a surprising defeat at Ascot when last seen is an interesting move by John Gosden. Personally I judge this as a big minus. One couldn’t help but feel, despite his early season wins, that Cracksman isn’t as good – or shall we rather say focused – as he was last season. The Coronation Cup scare already was a revealing hint, I feel.

On prices I probably would favour Crystal Ocean. He’s 4lb higher rated at the moment. Something to take with a pinch of salt, nonetheless it tells a story of a horse who’s at the top of his game.

In saying that, Crystal Ocean continues to chase the elusive Group 1 victory. While his runner-up performance behind wonder mare Enable at Kempton showed he remains as good as ever, with ground potentially too soft to be ideal and a trip potentially too short to be ideal, I find myself picking plenty of holes not only in to the odds-on favourite, but also the second fancy in the betting.

Capri? An interrupted season, has to be taken seriously still, after a damn good effort in the Arc. He could try to steel the race from the front, utilizing his superior stamina. He’s a fair price, for sure.

However, I’m drawn to a massive long-shot here. Jim Bolger’s Verbal Dexterity, last year’s National Stakes winner. Things didn’t go plan for him afterwards, clearly. And his latest showing in the Irish Champion Stakes is worrisome, despite a more than fair seasonal reappearance weeks earlier.

On the other hand the ground looks ideal for him, unlike at Leopardstown. Whether he can stretch out to 10f on soft going is an entirely different matter. Either way, I feel this lad has a big race in him. Jim Bolger continues to show faith, otherwise he wouldn’t bring him over.

As the only three-year-old in the race at the bottom of the weights, despite a massive price I can see him outrunning this price tag for at least a place.

Selection:
10pts Each/Way – Verbal Dexterity @ 28/1 PP

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Flight Risk can surprise again

Jockey

3.10 Curragh: Minstrel Stakes (Group 3), 7f

Gordon Lord Byron could be hard to beat here. He has been in fine form lateley and finds perfect conditions at the Curragh. British raider Home Of The Brave won’t go down with a fight, though. He has shown some excellent form this year and seven furlongs looks his optimum. It remains to be seen how he acts on the ground.

Sovereign Debt was an impressive winner on Irish Derby Day here at the Curragh. That day everything fell into place for him. The drop to 7f will surely suit, though. Ramone is a tough mare but may need a stiffer test. Dark Emerald was progressive in Meydan, nonetheless a career best is required today.

Jim Bolger’s Flight Risk was a surprise winner of the Gladness Stakes back in April. This form has worked out very well, while the four year old colt has proven his class since then too. Some creditable efforts in Group company subsequently, rounded up with an unlucky runner-up effort in the Celebrations Stakes behind Sovereign Debt last month.

The race wasn’t run at a suitable pace for him, but turning for home he made good progress on the inside and looked to mount a big challenge, but got stuck on the rails with no room to go. Kevin Manning switched wide, which cost ground and momentum, yet Flight Risk flew home late.

Ground and trip will suit today. There should be a good pace ensured, and while it is not easy to give weight away, he is clearly in excellent form and can go close.

Flight Risk @ 16/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win