It's a huge week for flat racing across Europe, as we look forward to top class racing in Britain, Ireland and France. We have the fifth and final Classic of the season, the St Leger, from Doncaster; the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend from Leopardstown and the Curragh, with FIVE Group 1's across two days; and France runs its Arc trials, including the Group 1 Prix Vermeille, a highly significant race in its own right. Much to look forward to...
But first, a quick review of the weekend just gone. It was a satisfying one for the blog, with Prince Bishop (15/2 advised 8/1) ensuring a third big winner in as many weeks, after the recent successes of 22/1 (returned 16's) Vent de Force and 14/1 (returned 10/1) Ocean Tempest. Prince Bishop was an easy winner and guaranteed a profitable weekend for yours truly, despite my best attempts to erode those early gains with some ill-advised international football wagers.
Captain Cat followed up at a tasty 15/8 in the Superior Mile, to land a near 25/1 BOG double, and he looks like a really smart miler in the making. I'd love to see him engaged in the Breeders Cup Mile, as the normal crawl-sprint meter of that race is well suited to this strong-travelling, fast-finishing son of Cape Cross, for whom firm ground looks just fine.
It was downhill thereafter for the blog quartet, with Hassle running well but missing the frame with a three length sixth, having looked as though he maybe hit the front too soon; and Music Master needing no excuses in a valiant third placed finish behind youngster G Force and last year's winner, Gordon Lord Byron. Sole Power, as predicted, was out of the frame - just - finishing fourth. He is simply not a six furlong horse.
Sunday was all about the hitherto unbeaten German colt, Sea The Moon, and his bid to scalp local rivals in the Grosser Preis von Baden, a mile and a half Group 1 that counts Arc winners Marienbard and Danedream on its alumni list since 2002. Markus Klug's son of Sea The Stars was known to be under-cooked ("90%" was what his trainer had said beforehand), and that lack of race fitness was compounded by sweating up and acting coltishly in the preliminaries, and then having to make his own running and failing to settle during the race.
In the end, he was a three length second to Ivanhowe, a good horse but not a great one, and the sound of so many ante-post betting bubbles bursting was audible from Baden Baden to Berlin (and beyond).
Of course, for those - this scribe included - clutching futures tickets on the German for the Arc, it is not game over. After all, at least some of yesterday's issues are unlikely to be repeated in Paris four weeks hence. For a start, and most importantly, Sea The Moon will be 100% fit. It is hard to win a Group 1 race anywhere with any horse that is not 100% fit, and whilst it is conjecture, my opinion is that this was Ivanhowe's 'Cup Final' and I cannot see him confirming form with Sea The Moon in the Arc.
Secondly, Sea The Moon will get a far stronger pace in the Arc, and that should help him settle. Although he doesn't need it, he should also get cover there, which again should assist in him conserving energy through the early furlongs. On the downside, however, he has every chance of repeating the coltishness - and consequent expenditure of energy - before the Arc.
What does all that mean in terms of his chance? Your guess is probably as good as mine, so for what it's worth my guess is that he obviously has a diminished chance, but the bookmakers have over-reacted by pushing him from 7/2 out to a top priced 10/1.
Whilst it is not my intention to preview the Arc in this post - I'd want to see the outcomes of the races next weekend first - the current betting features a number of beaten-last-time types at its head. Treve and Taghrooda were both usurped unexpectedly on their last starts, while Australia is an unlikely runner I feel, with the Champion Stakes at Ascot a more compelling opportunity for a ten furlong horse.
We then have doubtful stayers in Avenir Certain (never raced beyond eleven furlongs, not bred to get the Arc trip) and Just A Way (stuffed only attempt at a mile and a half, best form at a mile). And then we have Sea The Moon. While I suspect there could be blobs of value further down the lists, with such as Tapestry and Kingston Hill, Sea The Moon looks too big right now.
Enough of the recent past, what of the near future?
I previewed the St Leger last week, and my fancy, Windshear, has been nibbled at. He's now a best priced 9/1 with totesport, Betfred and SportingBet, but as short as 6/1 elsewhere. 9's is still fair enough in a race that lacks depth.
Three hours after the St Leger, Leopardstown will host the Irish Champion Stakes (as well as the Matron Stakes, both Group 1's) on the opening day of its inaugural Irish Champions Weekend, and I am looking forward to being there. Whilst the final field is far from firm, dual Derby winner Australia is very much an intended runner. As I've written, I'm in the camp that believes this is his optimum trip, and he'll be a worthy flag-bearer for this brave new dawn (or sunset perhaps, given its seasonal position) for Irish racing.
One who has been confirmed as an intended runner is Al Kazeem, runner up to The Fugue last year. His is an interesting story, coming back from a failed stallion career, and though it will be too much to expect him to lower Australia's colours, he looks too big at 20/1 to make the frame.
On Sunday, attention turns to the Curragh for Day Two of Irish Champions Weekend. The feature races this time are the Irish St Leger, Moyglare Stud Stakes and National Stakes, all Group 1's. Leading Light is, well, a leading light for the main event, the Irish St Leger, and I'll have full previews of all the big races when the fields are known.
One point to add is that the Irish Tote will be offering some big pool guarantees for both the Pick 6 and Jackpot (pick four winners), so do take a look at them if you haven't already. My preview of them, and reasons why should have an account, are here. I'm looking forward to getting stuck in!
And finally for this shortish post, just a couple of quick admin lines.
Firstly, the Lifetime subscription offer has now closed, though other subscriptions are still available. All are tremendous value, and you can get involved here if you're not already.
I have some big news to share regarding Geegeez Gold, and one specific element in particular, but it's still too early for me to reveal, I'm afraid. It is a BIG deal for geegeez.co.uk though, that much I can relate! 🙂
And secondly, I'll be going through the ratings competition entries this afternoon, and will publish the winners tomorrow, all being well. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you've come up with, and will be sharing a handful of my favourites, as well as the winner.
OK, that's all for today. Have a great day, and I'll be back with those ratings systems tomorrow.