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It's the Ladbrokes St Leger from Doncaster tomorrow, dear reader, and the oldest Classic in the sport deserves a touch of analysis from Geegeez, methinks. In today's post, I've also got another download freebie for you (which I use every day myself), and some follow up answers to questions I received earlier in the week.
So let's get cracking with the St Leger.
As a Classic race, the St Leger is only open to three year olds, of both sexes. The race is run over the longest trip of any of the Classics, 1m 6f 132yds (which is actually only about 300 yards short of two miles).
Despite being somewhat maligned as an anachronism, the race has produced some very smart winners in recent years, including Milan, Sixties Icon and Conduit since 2001.
Aidan O'Brien has won it three times in the last nine years, though not in the last four years, despite having runners sent off at odds of 13/8, 9/4 and 3/1.
Six of the last ten St Leger winners were favourite or joint favourite, so it's probably not race to side with a big outsider. In fact, given the other quartet of winners were offered at 7/2, 7/1, 8/1 and 14/1, I think it should pay to focus on the top of the market here.
We have to go back to 1994 and Moonax to find the last horse to win the St Leger priced at bigger than 14/1. And how! Dear old Moonax was actually a 40/1 shot when taking this race, and proved it was no fluke by following up in the Group 1 two miler, Prix Royal Oak at Longchamp. As a thank you for his sterling efforts... he was sent hurdling!!! (Three starts and no wins later, that plan was reconsidered, quite rightly too.)
So, let's take a quick peek at the runners and riders for this year's event:
Recent history suggests we should be able to put a line through Corsica, Theology and Total Command. Possibly Ted Spread too, although I suspect he'll be backed because of the West Ham connections, and the fact that the race is on telly.
Three down, seven to go!
Probably unsurprisingly nine of the last ten St Leger winners had already scored in Group company. This counts against the fancied pair of Arctic Cosmos and Dandino, and also Theology and Total Command (again). Five left in.
We need stamina to win this contest, demonstrable or inherent. So let's take a look at previous race distance form and breeding for further clues.
I'm interested in horses with solid form at a mile and a half or better, and this counts strongly against both of the O'Brien pair, Midas Touch and Joshua Tree. The former won over a mile and a quarter, but that was a four runner dawdle. Yes, he finished second to Cape Blanco in the Irish Derby, but Cape Blanco is surely a better ten furlong horse and there was nothing much in behind, so I'd say he was outstayed by a horse who excels over shorter. After that, he was royally thumped by Rewilding in the Great Voltigeur (Joshua Tree, Ted Spread and Total Command even further behind).
Joshua Tree is unexposed and bred for the trip, but... he's not won over further than a mile and is inexperienced with just four runs under his belt. I'd be on his side in a match bet against stablemate, Midas Touch, but he's a lot to find on Great Voltigeur running with Rewilding.
There are two key prep races for the St Leger, and they are Goodwood's Gordon Stakes and York's Great Voltigeur Stakes. We've alluded to the runners from the latter above. The Gordon Stakes was won by St Leger absentee, Rebel Soldier, in a driving finish from Dandino and Arctic Cosmos (Corsica and Theology further back). Immediately after that race, I had a bet on the Cosmos at 12/1, as he was clearly doing best at the end of that event.
Although he's yet to win a Group race, that was an eye-catching performance and, bar the favourite, I like him to be placed, and again I'd take Cosmos over Dandino in a match bet.
This leaves Rewilding and Snow Fairy. Both ran at Epsom with differing fortunes: Rewilding despised the track and ran down the hill like one of thoseÂ supermarket trolleys with a dodgy wheel for much of the Derby, before running on from a hopeless position to finish third. He certainly wouldn't be the first horse to come out of defeat in the Blue Riband and subsequently prove himself the best middle distance horse of his generation, and he won't be the last.
His facile despatch of several St Leger contenders last time in the Great Voltigeur marks him down quite rightly as the horse they have to beat, and this has been a very good race for Godolphin and - in particular - Frankie Dettori in recent seasons. He is justifiably short in the betting, and will be very tough to usurp.
The fly in the ointment is Snow Fairy. She went to Epsom for the Oaks as a supplementary entry that day, and she proved her fast-track progression by waltzing away from her rivals there. What she beat is something of a moot point, which she emphasised when winning the Irish Oaks from a bunch of - in the main - exposed handicappers. That said, she couldn't do any more than win by the eight lengths she did win by. (OK, she could have won by nine lengths... )
Since then, she's lost little caste in defeat to the top middle distance race mare, Midday. But. But... I just don't think that level of form is good enough to win a St Leger. Yes, I know User Friendly won the English and Irish Oaks before taking the St Leger back in 1992. But she also won the Yorkshire Oaks in between to maintain her unbeaten run, and was unlucky to be done by a head in the Arc subsequently. Personally, and I might be wrong, I just don't think Snow Fairy is in that bracket.
So... a combination of trends and form lead me to go 'all in' on Rewilding. The owner has won this twice in the last six years, the jockey has won it three times (all for different trainers). The horse has the highest official rating, the highest Topspeed rating, and the highest Racing Post Rating.
He looks sure to stay the trip, has bags of class (only other defeat this season aside from wobbly legged Derby run was when beaten by French tip top tool, Planteur on his seasonal bow), and has that rare thing in staying races - a change of gear, as opposed to a lengthening stride.
Although not a particularly inspired choice, I expect Rewilding to win, and win well, adding to the exceptional record of favourites in the race. I will also be backing him accordingly.
Now then, I promised you more freebies this week, and today I've got a handy tool for you to keep track of what's happening at Geegeez, and lots more besides. In fact, it's a handy tool-bar. I have it installed here on my browser (Firefox, works fine with Internet Explorer too), and as well as quicklinks to the Geegeez blog, betting system reviews and horse racing news pages, it also features RSS feeds (for those of you who know what they are, and how to use them!); a handy tool to notify you of new emails (for instance an email from me telling you of a new post! ;); direct access to some online betting calculators; a radio button (as in FM stereo through your PC); and, a weather forecast icon (it's 17C and broken sunshine here right now, so I'm told.)
If you don't want a radio or the weather... or even the Geegeez quicklinks (what?!)... then the bar is fully customizable to your tastes, with loads of little widgets and sprockets, gizmo's and doodah's. It looks a bit like this (on my machine), and is a really handy little thingie.
You can download a copy, and install it very simply indeed (trust me on this!), by clicking the link below:
Funnily enough, given it's St Leger post day today, the toolbar maker is a company called Conduit, which is also the name of the winner of the St Leger back in 2008. Synergy baby!
Hope you like it.
And finally today, I've had a bulging mailbag related to the Secrets of Successful Gamblers monthly modular course I mentioned on Wednesday. Many of you already have it, and most of those of you who mailed me really enjoy it.
I did also get a number of common questions so, to save my aching digits, I thought I'd answer them here, if you don't mind.
Q. What do I actually get in the trial?
A. As previously mentioned, each month you will receive a printed copy of the module, packed with articles designed to help you improve your betting across a variety of sports and betting pursuits. These include, but are not limited to, horse racing, football, tennis, casino games and poker.
With the first module (your free trial copy), there are articles with the following areas of interest:
Overview of betting, and betting options, in the United Kingdom
An Introduction to Odds and the elusive concept of 'Value'
Permutation Betting for Horse Racing
Outsider of Three for Fixed Odds: A re-working
Fixed Odds football: techniques for handicapping matches
The Treble Chance Football Pools
Horse Racing: A Simple Race Rating System
Plus, articles on Casino Betting, Slot Machines (!), The Lottery (!!) and Greyhound Racing
As well as all that, there's also a bonus system for use with your football betting.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that the trial was free?
If you decide to stay on board for the second issue, you'll receive a sturdy ring binder to put your subsequent modules into, and keep them safe and mostly free from tea / coffee stains (if you're anything like me, at least).
Q. What happens if I don't want to continue?
A. Just unsubscribe. Your registration is through PayPal, so cancellation is as simple as clicking on the link in PayPal that says 'Cancel'. If you forget, or do this late, or just receive a copy that you don't really think is good value, just notify the publishers and they'll sort you out.
These guys have been in business for ages and they're good eggs, who provide good value, so you need have no worries on that score.
Q. What do you think of this course, Matt?
A. I like it and I like the way it appeals to different readers at different times. The depth and breadth of betting skill and knowledge is vast, and so SSG doesn't assume you know everything. At the same time, there is plenty of material for more advanced bettors, and lots of 'refresher' content for those who might have become a little 'lazy' in their pre-betting activities. Ahem.
I wouldn't expect all articles to appeal to everybody. For instance, in the first issue, there's content on lottery perms and slot machines and casino games, none of which hold any fascination for me. But there is also some good stuff on placepots (a real potential goldmine, and great value entertainment... assuming you get past the first race!); football betting and the life of a pro punter.
Ultimately, the first issue is free, and without a catch. Obviously, the publishers hope you stay on board, but that is based solely on you liking the content sufficiently to want to stay on board. And yes, if you do stay on board, I will receive a commission. *gasp*
It is impossible for me not to recommend you trialing this. Or, in non-double negative (is that a triple negative?!) language, I recommend you take a look - for free - at SSG. It will cost you nothing, and it's a good couple of hour's of varied betting reading each month (if you stay on board).
Take advantage of the trial copy, and free football betting system, here: www.ssg2.co.uk/p10
And have a great weekend. Come on Frankie!!!!