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St Leger: the oldest classic

For various reasons my heart’s not been in the flat season this year. The truth is that I have barely watched a race since Derby Day. I’ve turned the racing on just now and absence has made the grass seem greener than ever before and the jockeys’ silks buzz out of the tv screen.

Re: bets, I’ve had a few… Then again, (this season) too few to mention.

I might have one later on Blue Bunting, or I might not. Either way I will be with her in the
St Leger. Fillies don’t win the race much, but of them all I think the drying ground won’t inconvenience her and I like her robust profile. I’ve got to finish the post now because I want to watch Born to Sea, Sea the Stars half-brother, make his debut in ten minutes at the Curragh (2.40).

Blue Bunting: unusual tail

Today The Ledge, Tomorrow The World?

Not the window one, unless I get this all wrong 😉

I haven’t done this in a while either. I am going to narrow the field down to stayers and non-stayers, but truthfully you’d only be looking for a bit of each way value maybe, because the favourite Rewilding has compelling claims to land the last Classic race of the season.

ARCTIC COSMOS – Initially I thought there might be stamina doubts, but I am pretty sure he will stay.  Blinkers not a negative necessarily.  Place prospect.
CORSICA – I don’t like to see this horse in the line-up as a pacemaker.  He’s given me some pleasure this season and is not going to get the trip after fulfilling his allotted role.
DANDINO – Don’t think he’ll stay.
JOSHUA TREE – Don’t think the step up in trip will suit.
MIDAS TOUCH – plenty of stamina to make the frame and could profit if Rewilding is not firing on all cylinders
REWILDING – top-rated, unexposed, could even improve for further.  A good favourite, wondering why he’s not quite evens…
TED SPREAD – He’ll stay alright and has been on my mind for a while as an each way punt.  Shame the ground’s not gone a bit more for him.  Could be denied a place by Midas Touch and Arctic Cosmos.
THEOLOGY – Loads of stamina, short of class?  Not sure about this one to be truthful.  Would not wish to dismiss without examining the evidence further.
TOTAL COMMAND -Stoute horse with stamina, @ 40/1.  Makes no sense to me.  Might turn out to be the best value horse in the race if prepared to overlook the effort in the Great Voltigeur.
SNOW FAIRY – running an owner’s whim I think.  I like to back a girl taking on boys but in this case I feel it would be a waste of money.  Unconvinced and I think the trainer is too.
I find the formlines of this race pretty interesting and I think we are basically being asked to judge two sets of runners: those dropping back 2f from the Queen’s Vase and those stepping up 2f from the Great Voltigeur and / or the Gordon Stakes.  The GV is clearly the best race being a Group 2 and those who ran in the Queen’s Vase and then either the GV or the Gordon did not hold their 2m form across to 12f.  So on the basis that the QV runners are doughty gallopers and could not compete with the toe of the 12f runners I am ruling out Theology.  And I should also rule out Total Command, but his GV running was not right given the way he stopped and should possibly be given the benefit of the doubt…

Of those that only ran in the GV we are looking for a potential reversal of form given an extra 2f, the ground being the same.  I honestly don’t think there is a horse in the field that could improve over the 2f more than the 4 lengths Rewilding got them beat by that day.  I think Rewilding will win, Midas Touch should be in close order and the only one in the GV’s first three that might back pedal for the extra 2f is Joshua Tree.  That third spot I have between Arctic Cosmos/Total Command/Ted Spread…

If Stoute didn’t train Total Command I wouldn’t touch it.  I know Ted Spread travels more in hope than expectation so:

1. Rewilding 

2. Midas Touch

3. Arctic Cosmos

For the tricast.  And a sentimental bit of each-way on Ted Spread, unless I love Total Command more by 3.20.  Enjoy.

Last year's race: Mastery prevails which this blog advised as an e/w...

Another St Leger Preview – because they’ve been watering and I’m wavering!

Apparently Town Moor was riding firm with a loose top yesterday, loose ground is my pet hate.  It gives the impression of one thing but the horses are feeling quite another.  Presumably the clerk is watering to keep the Classic field intact.  He is certainly not putting enough on to effect any change in the going.  Some trainers hate courses watering, believing it to be to the detriment of the turf in the long run.  The thinking is that light, regular watering (unlike rain deluges) encourage short root growth eventually compromising the durability of the grass.  Sounds plausible to me, but I am no expert.  I only know I don’t much like the top coming off.

I watched the Morning Line this morning, I’ve not watched in months but I needed some insight for the Ledge.  I didn’t get any really 😦  We did have Peter Chapple-Hyam on though and he was pretty interesting.  He still doesn’t seem convinced about his horse, Monitor Closely.  He also seemed pretty nervous and admitted as much.  That said, he looks to live on his nerves.  I stood next to him a few seasons back at the Craven meeting where he had nice little 2yo colt running.  He was fagging it like a good ‘un and twitching like a villain (which he isn’t!).  In the end the horse didn’t load which may have accounted for his nerves but he does look like he suffers.  Which would make you more nervous though; appearing on the Morning Line, fielding a horse that might win, or running a horse that won’t?

I also like Monitor Closely!  I like his white face (apparently the owner’s prerequisite for purchase!).  I like his sire, Oasis Dream, and having seen again his last win I like his style.  There is also the issue of sire stats.  Oasis Dream’s progeny actually post their highest win to run ratio between 12-13f where the figure is a staggering 25%.  At the sprint distances, where he is anecdotally prepotent, his progeny post a (still impressive) 17%.  Fair enough, we are going 14f today but Monitor Closely didn’t look like he was stopping “that day” (to borrow from Emma Spencer) and he led from 1f out, which most of us would consider is doing it the hard way.

I wonder if the white face wins it?

So, that’s it.  Mastery already backed e/w and soon to be joined by Monitor Closely.

Monitor Closely @ York (Mastery behind)

Monitor Closely @ York (Mastery behind)

I also need to wish Yeats all the best for his turn round the soggy Curragh in the St Leger this afternoon.  The trip and ground are all against him but there will never be a more popular winner welcomed back if he wins this afternoon in his last Irish race.  I hope he wins, but there are dangers lurking in the royal blue, the Aga’s green and red and in the mare going to Melbourne.

Good luck Yeats!

Yeats @ Ascot

Yeats @ Ascot

St Leger Preview

As there are so few in the field for tomorrow’s oldest classic race I can indulge myself by listing them in market order.

Kite Wood – nice horse, as Lester would say, but they are concerned about the ground for him and I would agree with them. A furlong further than he went at Newbury on fast ground might be his undoing.

ChangingoftheGuard  – as I type the AOB runner is joint favourite with Kite Wood.  Not keen on this son of Montjeu personally but money may talk… 

Monitor Closely – don’t forget to do just that with Changingoftheguard’s price!  Of this Oasis Dream’s colts chances I am not entirely convinced and I don’t think the trainer is either.  Supplemented at a cost of £45,000 at the 5 day stage, one gets the feeling that although the owner has readily coughed up, the trainer would not have been so hasty.

Father Time – I respect Henry’s runners wherever, whenever they run but the stable has said they are concerned about the ground.  On a line of form through the non-runner who headed the ante-post market, Age of Aquarius, it would be a foolish punter who dismissed his chances entirely.  Available at 5/1 now.

Mourayan – another who would like a softer playing field.  He should get this new trip alright, but the concern about fast going should temper too much enthusiasm.

Mastery – I have got a liking for this one.  The only one who has his ground and not acres to find on the principals but a bit, granted.  Simon Crisford, Godolphin’s racing manager, says he has a good each-way chance and although he has now stolen MY thunder I will agree 😉  When I began this he was available with at least one firm at 20/1, now a best-priced 14/1.   I think there will be a lot of e/w money on this tomorrow so I will be after backing it now!!!

Above Average – this Hills runner is probably below the average ability needed to win this race.

Von Jawlensky – who?

My main interests are in Mastery, Kite Wood and Father Time.  I will back Mastery e/w tonight and sleep on the rest. 

I presume that the last horse Von Jawlensky will make the pace so they won’t dawdle which won’t benefit Monitor Closely.  Both the Ballydoyle’s entrants are by Montjeu who often like a bit of juice, this doesn’t mean they won’t go on the ground (remember Hurricane Run) but I couldn’t have it tomorrow.

The great Nijinsky, our last Triple Crown winner

The great Nijinsky, our last Triple Crown winner