Tag Archives: St Leger

Melbourne Cup Preview – Here’s You’re Winner!

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The race that stops a nation…. or the race that disrupts my sleep. Yep, it’s back – the one and only Melbourne Cup!

Thankfully only once a year. Getting up at 3.30am on a regular basis is probably not recommended. Nonetheless, Tuesday morning I will. All in the name of my favourite race on this beautiful planet!

Not because I’ve ever been particularly successful finding the winner. I have not. But because the build-up. The atmosphere. The enormity of the whole event. It’s special.

One day I gonna be there. To see it with my own eyes. Wide awake and alert. Unlike tomorrow morning. When I watch on with red eyes.

As close as I ever came to the mecca that Flemington is: I drove passed it with a rental car earlier this year on a trip to Australia.

Let’s talk about the actual race: off at 4am Irish time. Here’s hoping my neighbours are prepared for the screams of joy when Rekindling strolls over the line as the winner of the 2017 Melbourne Cup!

You see I get right into it. No dwelling. A full take on every single horse can be found in this excellent guide. I’ve already made up my mind and tell you why.

I’m all in on Rekindling. In past years I always backed multiple horses in the race. Didn’t do me any good. Only the bookies were smiling. This year I pin all my hopes on the Joseph O’Brien trained three year old colt.

But let’s move all the negative factors out of the way first: no doubt there are a handful of good reasons why this lad won’t get anywhere near the money tomorrow morning. Some smarter people than I am are probably right if they say Rekindling had a long season, the Cup is a mere afterthought on the back of an excellent Ledger performance and therefore he’ll find this really tough.

Rekindling is not a particularly imposing individual in terms of physical presence either. He didn’t have a prep run Down Under. And he’s a galloping sort who might not enjoy the start-stop nature of the race.

All fair points. However at 14/1 I am prepared to take a chance on Rekindling, fully aware I will likely go back to sleep at roughly 4.30am after yet another Cup disappointment.

But hold on, let’s hear for all the good reasons why Rekindling will win the 2017 Melbourne Cup:

Weight, Class and Ratings. He’s a classy 116 rated individual, a multiple pattern class winner and was only 2 lengths beaten – and in my view unlucky not to get closer – when 4th in the English St. Leger.

He gets into the Cup with a featherweight thanks to WFO, however on Aussie terms is actually a four year old. He’s got as little as 8st 2lb to carry. He’s third highest ranked in terms of time speed and Racing Post Ratings. Granted, the merit of these ratings is questionable for obvious reasons – it still is another little piece in the puzzle.

The draw. It could hardly be any better. Stall 4 gives every opportunity. Not allot of energy needs to be wasted early on, as long Rekindling breaks alright. Which he should.

Form. An  impressive winner of the Curragh Cup, and an equally as impressive 4th in the English St. Leger. A performance I rate particularly highly. That is because he came from a long way back that day, trailing for most parts, and when travelling strongly on the bridle over three furlongs out, he did not get a clear run and lost valuable momentum and ground as a consequence.

Yet he produced the joint fastest sectionals for the last four furlongs and finished in fourth, only 2 lengths behind Capri. That form in its own right is strong, but has already been franked multiple times.

I also don’t subscribe to the fact Rekindling would not be suited to the start-stop nature of the Melbourne Cup. In fact this lad is not a mere galloping sore who travels strongly and grinds things out. No, he has pace and a turn of foot. He showed it quite clearly when producing a superb effort over 10 furlongs in the lowly ran Ballysax Stakes earlier this year.

Now, I do really love the chance of this horse. I understand why people compare him to Bondi Beach in last years Cup. However I feel Rekindling is a different animal altogether.

I strongly believe he’s more for than against him – with one only concern: he’s usually held up. Here’s hoping Rekindling will be utilized to full effect from his positive draw and does not settle farther off the pace than midfield.

I readily admit that it is a huge ask, nonetheless. And the field is incredibly competitive. I do not quite buy into the hype of Marmelo and find it hard to see Almandin doing it all again – however Red Cardinal would be my absolute prime chance in this race – if not for the wide draw.

Now this must not be a problem necessarily given he’ll settle off the pace anyways, regardless of the draw. Still, he’ll be too far back I fear. Max Dynamite, if fully fit – and he looked good during his comeback run – is another one to like a lot. The runner-up of 2015 has even less weight to carry this time round.

Tiberian, despite a wide draw, might be able to cross over as there seems not too much early pace here. If so, he’s a dangerous horse. Hugo Palmer’s Wall Of Fire had the perfect preparation – he’s a major player.

Nonetheless, it’s Rekindling or nothing for me. And what a story it would be. Joseph O’Brien in his first season as a trainer winning the Melbourne Cup – a feast his record breaking father never achieved? Go son, go!

Selection:
20171107flm040022 10pts win – Rekindling @ 14/1 William Hill

Saturday Selections: St. Leger Day 2017

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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

Sunday Big Race Previews – Curragh

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It’s been a hack of a day at Leopardstown yesterday! Thankfully we were blessed with some lovely sunshine for most parts, although it didn’t prevent Gleneagles from being withdrawn. Nonetheless the Irish Champion Stakes turned into an afair full of drama and afterthought. Johannes Vermeer’s 7/1 win made it a profitable day for me -I shall gonna review the whole thing in more depth later on, but for now let’s focus on leg two of the Irish Champions Weekend.

2.35 Blandford Stakes Stakes (Group 2), 1m 2f

The Curragh didn’t get as much rain as I would have expected, so we have nearly perfect conditions, although I have the slight feeling it will ride a bit tacky. Tapestry returns to the track and sets a good standard and the one to beat if she is able to race to her best today. Ground and trip are fine for her, but it’s a deep race and her price offers little value given the fitness questions.

To an extend the same applies to Bocca Baciata, at least if it comes to her price. I fancy the three year old to run well today, after she was ultra impressive here at the Curragh the other day. But this is a tougher race today, a slightly different trip and ground. We’ll find out whether she is up to it. I guess she is, but I don’t want to find out with my money.

Ultra consistent Ribbons should go close once again. She hasn’t won in a dozen starts now, and that is a slight concern. The French are represented with Kataniya, who looks vulnerable over the 10f trip. I’m not sure what to make of Carla Bianca. Back after an unsuccessful trip to the US, she can be anything today.

The most intriguing runner is British raider Lady Tiana. Ideally the ground would be a bit softer and the trip a bit longer. But she looks a filly still open to progress. She had only two starts this season, was desperately unlucky on her seasonal debut and made up for it in July when landing the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks in most impressive fashion.

I believe she can be competitive in today’s conditions for reasons that she is a very strong traveller, with high cruising speed who also possess a sharp turn of foot, adding to the fact that she is two from three over the 1m 2f trip.

Lady Tina @ 12/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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3.40 Moyglare Stud Stakes (Group 1), 7f

Will we see next years 1000 Guineas winner in this race? Maybe. There has been plenty of talk about the Aiden O’Brien trained Ballydoyle in recent weeks – after a slow start to her career, she finally her talent when winning two on the bounce in excellent style. She’s got a Group 2 CD win to her name now and therefore has earned rightfully her place as favourite today.

But how will she cope with the slightly easier ground? We’ll see. She’ll have to be at her best, that’s for sure, as Dermot Weld’s classy filly Tanaza adds another dimension to this race. This Dubawi filly coped well with quick ground on her first two career starts, when she produced a sharp turn of foot. Conditions today will suit perfectly.

Weld has been full of appreciation for Tanaza after winning the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown a shade cosily back in July. So she may well be the real deal. At the given odds it is a no-brainer for me to select her against short priced favourite Ballydoyle.

Tanaza @ 5/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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4.15 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group 1), 7f

This should come down to a battle between Air Force Blue and Herald The Dawn. The two top rated male juveniles of their generation have both a bright future ahead, if their last performances are to believe.

Potentially the best juvenile sprinter around at the moment, Air Force Blue proved his class in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes last month where he trashed a deep field. He’s likely to be able to stretch out anther furlong, but I wouldn’t bet a short price doing it as powerful as he did over 6f.

Herald The Dawn looks a star miler in the making. He won the Group 2 Futurity Stakes over CD last month, making hard work of it in horrible ground. He’ll appreciate the sounder surface today. He looked smart when getting off the mark in a Naas maiden before on quick ground and Jim Bolger has been quoted saying that this lad is as good as his full-brother Dawn Approach was. Bold words!

Herald The Dawn seems a cracking bet in a race where nothing else really stands out. He’s more than double the price of Air Force Blue, and therefore easy to back.

Herald The Dawn @ 9/4 VC – 10pts Win

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4.50 Irish St Leger (Group 1), 1m 6f

Intriguing contest, much deeper and more interesting than the Doncaster equivalent which ended in a joke yesterday – Bondi Beach won the race in the stewards room. it gives trainer Aiden O’Brien the chance of a “Leger Double”. He saddles favourite Order Of St George who was a wide margin winner of the Irish St Leger trial. He was a close runner-up behind Bondi Beach a couple of weeks before over course distance, too.

Personally I’m not yet convinced OOSG stays the Leger trip as powerfully as he will have to in order to be successful in this very deep renewal. He has been outstayed by Bondi Beach before, and the same scenario looms today when he faces some top class stayers.

Last years winner Brown Panther comes back from a eserved break which he enjoyed after a successful campaign at Meydan. He has done remarkably well as a fresh horse in the past, so a big run is expected once again. Although this renewal looks stronger than last years race.

Kingfisher is an interesting contender, if he’s able to find back to his best form. He is a strong stayer as he proved in the Ascot Gold Cup. Cumani’s Second Step may improve for the step up in trip and could well be in the mix. That says he certainly needs to find a couple of pounds  to feature.

Progressive Agent Murphy has been a revelation this season. He has taken step up in classes easily and has now the chance to prove his worthiness on the highest level. For all of that he should appreciate the Leger trip.

I haven’t lost faith in Forgotten Rules, yet. He was outstayed in the Ascot Gold Cup when 3rd eventually on unsuitable quick ground. Nonetheless, a strong performance. Once can ignore his last performance in the Group 3 Curragh Cup when a long way beaten by Bondi Beach and Order Of St George as the run came only ten days after Royal Ascot, and therefore way too soon.

However Forgotten Rules is still a pretty lightly sort, actually. And therefore could be open to further progress. So far he has won four out of six career starts and had excuses in the last two, as outlined. He’s a major chance in my book with conditions sure to suit.

You can’t rule out Sea Moon completely. He’s back in Europe after an unsuccessful time in Australia and was a fair second over course and distance behind OOSG in the Leger Trial, albeit a long way beaten. That run may have blown the cobwebs away and he could sneak into the placings today.

Wicklow Brave is a fine stayer in his own right but hard to fancy in this company. Brittish raider Vent De Force looked an outstanding staying prospect in the making earlier this season but has only been disappointing since.

Forgotten Rules @ 11/2 Coral – 5pts Win

Big Race Preview: St Leger

2000 Guineas Field going to post

Only seven go to post in this years St Leger, which shapes to be a below-par renewal. Its status in the world of racing has diminished in the last decades, but this year seems a real low point. Further to this you can add the likelihood of softish ground. It won’t be an exciting race to watch and not one that will live beyond today in our memory.

Anyway, the favourite Storm The Stars is a very decent individual. He finally scored on Group level when he landed the Group 2 Voltigeur Stakes in a controversial finish. In other countries, his interference with Bondi Beach would have cost them the race – not so in Brittain.

Stepping up in trip will Suit Storm The Stars though. He looks an out and stayer and will probably fine on the soft ground. He is a fair favourite.

Ballydoyle has two good chances in the race. Bondi Beach looks a progressive stayer. He was unlucky in the Voltigeur as pointed out before. This trip will suit him down to the grounds and he’s fine on the ground. He’s a better chance than Fields of Athenry, who flopped in the Ebor.

While I fancy Bondi Beach to win the Leger, for price reasons do opt with Medrano. He is a long way off the standard to win a Group 1… normally. However this is not a normal Group 1. It’s a poor one. The ground will play right into his hands, and so should the trip. He has a pretty good chance to be able to pull out a bit more over 2m. For a big price, he’s the one I select against the more fancied runners.

Medrano @ 33/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Preview – Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes

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This intriguing staying contest sees last years St. Leger sixth Forever Now reappearing. The Galileo son is still generally lightly raced and has been progressive throughout his three year old campaign. He won a Listed contest over 1m 6f at Goodwood, following on from a fine third in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy. There is every chance that he has still a bit more to offer.

The only question mark is the ground. He has some sort of form with a bit of give in the ground, but he showed his best on a better surface. Todays conditions at Nottingham are soft, though the good weather may help. One has to consider though that Forever Now is a very short price. On that basis I think it’s possible to oppose him here on his seasonal reappearance.

The filly Island Remede has the benefit of a recent run and finished a very creditable runner-up to Windshear in a Conditions Stakes over 12f on her seasonal reappearance. She clearly loves the mud and that should ensure that she’s in with a good chance to run well today.

The Ralf Beckett trained Cinnilla progressed nicely through the ranks last season, though she was found out in better class on heavy ground in France at the end of the year. Lightly raced Deuce Again has done well on the All-Weather recently, but this is a completely different test and it remains to be seen if she’s suited by it.

Clearly the most interesting runner is Godolphin’s Blue Rambler. Unbeaten in France as a three year old, where he won a Listed race over 12f in softish conditions, he moved yards subsequently but ran only once for Charlie Appleby last season, when he finished a fair third in a hot Handicap. He steps up in trip now but that shouldn’t be a problem on pedigree, and he’ll love the ground today.

First time headgear is interesting and suggests he’s not in it for a public gallop. The yard is going strongly too. While there are question marks about fitness after a long lay-off, he may have still a good deal of improvement left in him. With conditions sure to suit, I expect a big run and he looks overpriced in this field.

3.40 Nottingham: Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes (Listed)
Blue Rambler @ 13/2 Stanjames – 5pts win