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Monday Musings: Missing The Leger

Unlike my near contemporaries Howard Wright and Tony Morris, I have a far from complete attendance record at the St Leger, although for the past 20-odd years the absences have been rare enough, writes Tony Stafford. I will miss the 2018 vintage though as with Harry Taylor and Alan Newman, the latter author of “It’s not what you know”, the affectionate anecdotal record of his 50-plus years as a greyhound bookmaker, I’ll be in Ireland.

And what a trip! We fly on Friday from Stansted to Dublin, stopping off to park our belongings at our digs before an evening at Newbridge dogs for a big final close to The Curragh. On Saturday it’s Leopardstown for the first stage of Ireland’s Champions Weekend before another doggy night at Shelbourne Park’s Irish Greyhound Derby semi-finals.

On Sunday we will be at The Curragh for day two of the ICW spectacular and after a third night’s stay, will move on for the Monday double header of Ballydoyle, where I’ve been twice before, and Coolmore, which will be a long-overdue first. At last I will be able to match the boasts of Steve and Kevin Howard and my old school pal Tony Peters, who all got the tour a few years ago by posing as potential customers at the stud. In the way that fiction can end as fact, their filly Megan’s Magic did eventually prove a successful broodmare, but only after she was sold when she became intractable on the racecourse.

The first of my Ballydoyle visits was as a guest of David O’Brien, the year he won the Derby with Secreto (1984), when my abiding memory is talking enjoyably in a large room when left alone with his mother Jacqueline while she was working on some delicate needlework.

That day I’d flown in to Shannon and hired a car from the airport. David, whom I’d got to know at the Keeneland July Sales in the month after his, in many ways, traumatic win against father Vincent’s Storm Bird – the Epsom beaten favourite needed the subsequent Irish Derby victory to secure his once-jeopardised reputed $30 million stallion deal  - asked me to divert to the now-defunct Cashel Palace Hotel, where he was in a lunch meeting with Malcolm Parrish.

I’m sure I’ve told elements of this tale before, but Malcolm had been the vendor when Michael Dickinson and father Tony bought two nice horses, French Hollow and Flying Hugue, from his 100-horse Chantilly stable. The contact came through the recommendation of Prince Rajsinh of Rajpipla (Pippy to you) who at the time was the Paris correspondent of the Racehorse weekly paper, which I edited alongside my Daily Telegraph work.

I told Malcolm, who was a most agreeable chap, of my minor part in that deal and he said: “Do you want any more?” Probably the best of the nine horses that eventually made their way (obviously pay as you go) to Rod Simpson was Brunico, runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle before winning the Ormonde Stakes for Terry Ramsden and 20-odd points for Peter Bowen. The one that got away was Hogmanay, condemned as untrainable by Rod, but winner of a host of good chases for Terry Casey. Cheers Rod.

Years later, just over a decade ago probably, I stopped off with my Collins Willow book editor on a trip which encompassed one of the short-lived big-money two-year-old races at The Curragh. We went on to Listowel for their Festival where my main recollection is of our enjoying a drink with Kieren Fallon after racing in the town’s main hotel.

That was a perfunctory trip to Ballydoyle but we got a nice look at the gallops and the isolation yard. I cannot remember much else apart from the gates which welcome or discourage would-be visitors. Then it’s on to Coolmore, where I trust we won’t need, unlike the Billericay boys, to pretend we’re planning to send a mare before taking an evening flight back from Cork to Stansted.

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The previous time I was at the Irish Champion Stakes was 19 years ago. After the Thoroughbred Corporation’s Royal Anthem won the 1999 Juddmonte International at York by eight lengths from fellow 3-1 joint favourite Greek Dance, I was alone in the peripheral team to express caution about whether the four-year-old should take his chance there.

Trainer Henry Cecil, racing manager Dick Mulhall, based in California, Willie Carson, the domestic racing manager and jockey Gary Stevens all wanted to run, as did HRH Prince Ahmed bin Salman, the owner. In the irony of such moments, none of them ended up at Leopardstown, leaving it all to me. Henry was at Doncaster for the very good reason that Ramruma, his Oaks winner from that year and also Irish and Yorkshire Oaks heroine in a hitherto unblemished five-win three-year-old campaign, was odds-on favourite for the St Leger.

For Ramruma Doncaster proved a step too far. She finished runner-up to Mutafaweq and never won again, her following season being a major anti-climax. She was owned by Prince Ahmed’s elder brother Prince Fahd, who had won the 1991 Derby with Generous. Prince Ahmed emulated his brother winning at Epsom in 2000 with Oath, but by 2002, both brothers had died suddenly and their large empires were quickly dispersed.

At The Curragh, Royal Anthem showed that sometimes an unchallenged on the bridle win in a Group 1 can take more out a horse than is obvious at the time. If he hadn’t run, he was guaranteed to be Horse of the Year. Daylami won even more easily in Ireland than Royal Anthem (who was a remote fifth) had at York, and rightly took the award. Two months later at Gulfstream Park, Daylami emphasised his superiority with a two and a quarter lengths win over Royal Anthem in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Talk about being in the middle of a storm. I’d already got to the airport and was preparing to go through security when Mulhall called. “Get on to the racecourse vet. That can’t be right. He must have been got at!” Sorry Dick, it can be right and after talking to the vet, I was reassured it was even if nobody else was convinced. The fact that he ran so well, albeit without quite winning in the US so soon after, to my mind proved that.

Two years later, I missed another St Leger, again because of my Thoroughbred Corporation responsibilities. We were all at the Keeneland September sales in Kentucky and were preparing to go down to the arena when the 9-11 attack happened in New York.

My informal deal with the Telegraph was that I could travel with the boys as long as there was no cost to the paper and I still did my normal Telegraph tipping and writing as well as reporting on the sales. That morning we had the St Leger acceptors so I did the preview piece on the race before calling my daughter whose birthday it was and is (must remember her card tomorrow!).

When I finally got to Keeneland, everyone had gone and the event was delayed by a day, so I returned to the Marriott and watched proceedings from New York for a couple of hours with Michael Tabor and Jeremy Noseda while we had lunch.

Everyone’s flight plans home later that week were in disarray, not least the Saudis and especially the large Sheikh Mohammed party, which was stuck in Lexington into the following week. On the Thursday I learned that Tabor had managed to secure a plane to fly out the next day, but by the time I got round to trying to fix a spot, it was already full with trainers hoping to get back in time for Doncaster. Michael was rewarded with a St Leger win courtesy of Milan, while I stopped off at the Ladbrokes betting parlour in Pittsburgh where I’d broken my journey. Did I make it pay? What do you think?

I am very confident that Kew Gardens will win the St Leger in our absence. He stayed on well from miles behind in the Great Voltigeur and had gone into that race with remarkably little expectation considering he carried a penalty. After a spell when Ballydoyle had been in the doldrums with a now well-reported “bug”, I noticed in one recent two-week spell, Aidan O’Brien had 18 wins. The 11 in the same period by Joseph have helped propel younger brother Donnacha to a 20-winner margin in the jockeys’ title race.

I remember at the Eclipse meeting at Sandown just before he took out a licence, therefore when he was yet to reach 16, I asked Ballydoyle’s main vet John Halley, when he would start. “Very soon - and he’ll be better than Joseph!” was the reply. Looks like that lofty prophecy was not far wrong.

On domestic issues, it was wonderful to see the way Enable came back into action after 11 months off with such a clinical defeat of the high-class Crystal Ocean in the September Stakes at Kempton. John Gosden’s handling of her and many other recent stars has been outstanding and I fully expect her to give trainer, owner Prince Khalid Abdullah and the irrepressible Frankie Dettori another win in the Arc. In time she might be regarded as even better than Treve.

Monday Musings: The Legends Behind The Leger

The biggest gripe about modern-day breeders is that they are so obsessed with speed that potential middle-distance sires are badly neglected in favour of young sprinting stallions, writes Tony Stafford. The perceived decline of many top staying races, including the St Leger, has long been cited as proving that point.

For many years Ladbrokes’ sponsorship bolstered the St Leger, steadfastly at the same time staving off calls for the race to be opened, like its Irish counterpart, to horses older than the Classic age of three. William Hill, now supporting the event after the Levy impasse between bookmakers and the BHA , find the race in its rudest health for many years.

Saturday’s Classic will go down in history as having been won by Capri, one of four Aiden O’Brien-trained colts, all sons of Galileo and also winner of the Irish Derby back in July. He will earn the win on his career resume while the other ten clock up defeats.

Remarkably ten is also the total number of career defeats accumulated by the six stallions with runners in the 2017 St Leger. The others were Sea The Stars, with three runners, and Dalakhani, Frankel, Dubawi and High Chaparral, with one runner each.

It doesn’t take much for memories of even the best racehorses to fade, but listing the field and its various sires, suggests that as only the truly great were represented, something out of the ordinary is indeed needed to challenge at this exalted level.

So just to remind ourselves – I needed that refresher as much as the next man – here goes. Frankel, obviously, was the greatest. By Galileo, he won all 14 career starts, including the 2,000 Guineas and the only ‘blemish’ if you dare call it that was his non-appearance in the Derby or any other mile and a half race. Any doubt he would have stayed that (or a longer) trip must have been dispersed by his seven-length romp in the 10.5 furlong Juddmonte International at York.

Frankel raced throughout his career for his breeder, Khalid Abdullah, and with only two crops on the track, is making a strong case of becoming the chief challenger to Galileo and Dubawi going forward.

Galileo, of course by Sadler’s Wells, won his first six starts, encompassing the Derby, Irish Derby and King George before succumbing to the highly-talented Fantastic Light in the Irish Champion Stakes. His only other defeat was when proving unsuited by US racing in the Breeders’ Cup on his final start.

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Dubawi, the joint least-raced with Galileo among our sample, also had eight races. He lost three times when fifth in the 2,000 Guineas, third in the Derby and runner-up in the QEII. Basically a miler, he was an unbeaten Group 1 winning juvenile and collected the Jacques Le Marois as a three-year-old.

High Chaparral raced 13 times, one fewer than Frankel, and lost three times, as many as Dubawi. The defeats came, typically for a Ballydoyle inmate, first-time out at two, and then, less so, in successive Arcs de Triomphe, in the second as a four-year-old he was third behind Dalakhani. On the plus side were impressive victories in the Derby (from stablemate Hawk Wing), Irish Derby and two Breeders’ Cup Turf races.

Dalakhani, principally regarded as a sire of stayers, won eight of his nine races for the Aga Khan, his owner-breeder. Dalakhani’s only failure came when as an odds-on chance for the Irish Derby (having won the French) he finished half a length behind the John Oxx-trained Alamshar, also an Aga Khan home-bred. His son Defoe, with four successive wins before Doncaster, was one of the few major disappointments in the race.

That leaves Sea The Stars, a son of Cape Cross, bred and raced by Christopher Tsui and still owned by that family. He is a half-brother to Galileo and was trained by John Oxx throughout a career that began with a narrow defeat as a juvenile, but soon cranked up with wins in the 2,000 Guineas, Derby, Irish Derby, Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion and the Arc, for eight out of nine in all.

Two of three representatives, Crystal Ocean and Stradivarius fought out the minor placings half a length behind the determined Capri, and were separated by a short head. They will take divergent paths, Crystal Ocean going the mile and a half route for Sir Michael Stoute and owner-breeder Sir Evelyn Rothschild. Meanwhile, Stradivarius, home-bred by Bjorn Nielsen, looks the obvious major home challenger to Order of St George for Cup honours, starting with the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on October 21. The third Sea The Stars, Raheen House, seemed not to get home after looking dangerous two furlongs out.

So here were the sons of six stallions, all winners at two mostly at Group level, although Galileo’s sole run as a juvenile, in a late October maiden, produced a 14-length victory romp. The result was an enthralling race, with the “team tactics” element there for all to see. The Anvil’s fast pace, probably in itself insignificant in that the others largely ignored him, was still effective in that the other Aidan O’Brien trio were the nearest to him until he capitulated. The race was run in a fast overall time, suggesting good ground at worst.

It still took a supreme effort by the winner and an inspired Ryan Moore, who had confided in close friends that he feared Crystal Ocean might beat his mount. These were three high-class animals which should go on to win many more races. In passing it is worth mentioning the fine effort in fourth of Rekindling, trained and ridden by Aiden’s two sons Joseph and Donnacha. Expect this colt, markedly smaller than most of Saturday’s opponents to make hay when he goes to Australia for owner Lloyd Williams. Maybe the 2018 Melbourne Cup will be on his radar?

There were winners on Saturday’s card for both Dubawi and Frankel, but the speed sires did get a look in with Zebedee and Acclamation collecting the William Hill Portland (Spring Loaded) and Park Stakes (Aclaim, does his spelling irritate you, too?). The one name which will provide a “what-might-have-been” moment for the Coolmore partners is Scat Daddy, who died late in 2015 just after his stud fee at Ashford, Kentucky, had been raised for the following season to $100,000.

Scat Daddy’s son Seahenge was the apparently lesser-fancied of two O’Brien runners behind Ryan’s mount Mendelssohn, but came through under Donnacha to win the Champagne Stakes. Seahenge had been well beaten behind the smart Expert Eye at Goodwood, but as a first-time winner was something of a rarity among O’Brien youngsters and showed it here.

Scat Daddy, a son of Johannesburg, was originally owned by Joe Scatuorchio, but Michael Tabor acquired a half-share and the colt won a number of races for them including the Grade 1 Florida Derby before a troubled, disappointing 18th of 20 on his last start in the Kentucky Derby led to his retirement.

Sire principally of Caravaggio and the smart No Nay Never, already turning heads at the yearling sales, Scat Daddy was the hottest ticket at Keeneland September when Coolmore’s J P Magnier and agent Kerri Ratcliffe were clearly intent on snapping up the best of his final crop of yearlings, several for seven figures. If the great Mr Sundowner (a good second at Catterick last week over a mile and a half) is anything to go by, Scat Daddy could even produce a Derby or indeed a St Leger winner from his final two crops.

Monday Musings: (Internet) Memory Failing

The Internet can be very irritating, writes Tony Stafford. Yesterday afternoon, I was checking my route to Cambridge (now International) Airport from the M11, as I was tight for time to collect my friend Harry Taylor on his return with a jockey or three back from The Curragh.

I don’t have TomTom or any of those other aids to navigation and although I knew it was on the Newmarket side of Cambridge, I didn’t fancy going all the way up to the A14 nearly to HQ before going off left. In the end, despite being told on said Internet that “Cambridge International Airport is now closed” I made it in time, no thanks to technology.

The web has also been frustrating in my efforts to revive failing memories of the day at Cheltenham in March 1977 when two of Britain’s greatest champions had their lives cruelly ended in ghastly circumstances.

I should remember it better as it was on me that befell the task of sub-editing John Oaksey’s masterful if tear-jerking report on a day of rain and high wind. Unfortunately I do not have the piece to hand but it went somewhere along the lines of: “The Irish won only four <I think – I know they won seven in all over the three days that year> races at Cheltenham yesterday. Only one stand was nearly blown down and only two great champions had their careers ended.”

If it isn’t wholly accurate, the thoughts have stayed firmly if elusively in the consciousness. Lanzarote, veteran of many big races, including the 1974 Champion Hurdle, was killed in his race. He was trained by Fred Winter, as was Bula, a dual Champion (1971 and 1972), who fell at the fifth fence in the Two-Mile Champion Chase the same afternoon. Bula survived for a couple of months before being put down.

Harry travelled up on the train with me on Saturday and was excited to be getting a ride over after the St Leger to be at Leopardstown in time for the Irish Champion Stakes and the whole second day of Ireland’s Champions weekend at the Curragh. When he called me before racing yesterday to firm up the taxi-collection details, his weather report was: “The wind here’s unbelievable. It must be 100 mph!”

That might have been an exaggeration, but the strength was enough to hamper proper relaying of the commentary during the afternoon. If the two days were not quite in the 1977 Cheltenham class, they proved pretty character-forming for many of the participants.

Aidan O’Brien’s serene progress towards the £6m prizemoney mark in the UK was looking almost routine as Seamie Heffernan moved hot favourite Idaho slightly to his right to make his move at the three-furlong point in the last Ladbrokes St Leger. As the horse changed direction, he seemed to dislodge a hefty, loose clump of turf which was thrown up as he stumbled forward, causing Heffernan to be unseated.

The horse, happily, will live to fight another day, as will Seamie, bloodied around the nose and face after recovering from being knocked briefly unconscious. He stayed overnight in hospital while colleagues Donnacha O’Brien and Colm O’Donoghue flew back to Leopardstown.

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Time will first ease and eventually erase the Idaho element from the St Leger’s 250-year history, as there was a much more significant end to the day’s story. Laura Mongan, who runs a 20-horse stable in the sadly under-used training centre of Epsom took the race with 22-1 shot Harbour Law.

Laura runs her stable with husband Ian, a former jockey who was for many years a vital cog in the Sir Henry Cecil stable, earning his own memorable Group 1 success with Twice Over in the 2011 Juddmonte International at York.

In the way of such things, Laura’s Classic success would not have been predicted before this year as the 30,000gns yearling purchase had never seen a racecourse.

Indeed, he’d not seen Epsom either, for when he made his debut in an all-weather maiden at Lingfield in early spring, he, with 18 other horses owned by Jackie Cornwell, was listed as trained by Jo Crowley at Whitcombe.

Harbour Law ran once for Ms Crowley and then with the other Cornwell horses, moved to Epsom when Crowley handed in her licence. Two wins, in a maiden and a Sandown three-year-old handicap (echoes of Jack Hobbs) preceded a good second in the Queen’s Vase and fourth in the Bahrain Trophy before Saturday’s stout staying performance as Harbour Law and George Baker ran past Ventura Storm and O’Brien’s Housesofparliament for a deserved success.

Needless to say this was the first St Leger to be won by a female trainer and Harbour Law has the profile to become a Cup horse next year. Maybe he’ll be in the two-mile race on Ascot’s Champions Day?

Idaho’s misfortune was symptomatic of two days of what could have been for A P O’Brien. Six of his horses over Irish Champions Weekend were beaten into second place and none of them was as much as a length behind the winner. In time order US Army Ranger (half a length), Found (threequarters, albeit running an epic race in a hot Irish Champion), Best In The World (half), Washington DC (half), Hydrangea (short head) and finally Order of St George, a 1-7 shot who was half a length adrift of versatile hurdler Wicklow Brave in the Irish St Leger.

Doncaster last week included a legends race won by that retired “veteran” Joseph O’Brien, age 23. Many of the participants remembered among others Pat Eddery, 11-times champion jockey equalling Lester Piggott’s achievement. Happily Lester was there and coming up to 80, looked in great fettle.

In the early 1980’s Eddery found himself in the middle of an uncomfortable position after El Gran Senor, hot favourite for the Derby and trained by Vincent O’Brien, was narrowly beaten by Secreto, handled by Vincent’s son David. Secreto missed the Irish Derby and in his absence El Gran Senor stepped up, reputedly saving the multi-million dollar stallion deal that hinged on a “Derby” win.

Meanwhile back home in Ireland, Joseph and younger brother Donnacha, teamed up to win the Moyglare Group 1 race for fillies with the Anne-Marie O’Brien-bred and, (until early August)-owned, Intricately.

Just as at Epsom in June last year, an O’Brien trained horse, bred by the missus, turned up in new ownership, that of Mrs Chantal Consuela Regalado-Gonzalez, and won the Oaks. That filly was Qualify, who started 50-1 and outstayed Legatissimo. Here the 25-1 chance Intricately got up to beat Hydrangea, with two more Ballydoyle fillies, each of whom had finished ahead of her previously, further back with a good display of stamina.

Mrs Regalado-Gonzalez is the partner of the publicity-shy John Morrell, who has in the past owned several major stables including La Grange, now home of Ed Dunlop. Mrs R-G seems to like the name Jo or Joseph. Her four listed trainers in the UK include Jo Hughes, while in Ireland four trainers have had runners for her in 2016. They are Joseph O’Brien, Joseph Murphy, John Joseph Murphy and Dermot Weld. How did he get in?

 

St Leger Saga – The Final Verse

Simple Verse wins St Leger....Twice

Simple Verse wins St Leger....Twice

“Some you win, some you lose,” was the verdict from Aidan O’Brien as the St Leger appeal went against Ballydoyle in favour of Ralph Beckett and his connections.

The Doncaster stewards had controversially awarded the fifth Classic to Bondi Beach after he suffered interference from first past the post Simple Verse. They had decided that two collisions on the straight had sufficiently affected the result of the race in favour of the filly. The appeal board decided that despite interference, the second home had sufficient time to get past and win the race. They clearly felt that the filly won on merit, despite the incidents not because of the incidents.

The decision of the Doncaster stewards came as an almighty shock at the time, though a reversal on appeal remained highly unlikely. Whatever doubts may remain over the final decision, two clear positives remain. One of those is the pure class of Aidan O’Brien.

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The gentleman has conducted himself throughout in a thoroughly professional manner. Of course it helps that he has had such success over the years and that the loss of a Classic to him therefore has less of an impact. But his immediate comments after the appeal did much to aid the image of our wonderful sport.

“It’s great for connections of the mare. Life goes on,” was his verdict on having the St Leger snatched away. It came as no surprise that O’Brien should act in such a magnanimous fashion. Despite dominating Flat racing for well over a decade, the master of Ballydoyle remains humble, respectful and thoroughly even-handed in both victory and defeat.

Another huge positive to come out of the ensuing farce is the ultimate success for the wonderful trainer Ralph Beckett. The highest praise I could bestow on the Hampshire handler, is that he’s becoming as good a trainer of fillies as the late great Sir Henry Cecil. So close in the final Classic of the season in 2013 when Talent chased home Leading Light, he also saddled Look Here to a third place finish in 2008.

Beckett was devastated at the steward’s decision at Doncaster, and though he now has his St Leger, the whole process will clearly have tainted the success. After winning the appeal he said: “To have it taken away on the day was horrendous. There are only five Classics. It was a big call by us to supplement in the first place. To get it back is terrific but to get it back like this is not how you want it. I have been lucky enough to win three Classics but I am never going to think about it in the way I do about the two Oaks wins.”

It’s sad that the ordeal has clearly left a mark, but I’m sure that in time Beckett will reflect in a more positive light at the terrific piece of training that took a handicapper rated 77 in May, on a journey to St Leger success just three months later.

Monday Mélange

No, not melon. Mélange...

No, not melon. Mélange...

Is it me, or has this flat season been pretty, well, flat? I mean, don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of great punting opportunities; and the occasional great race - like Saturday's Haydock Sprint Cup... but, in the main the last couple of months seem to have been typified by a glut of unappealing low grade fare where the going has been as unpredictable as the race outcomes.

As a crude barometer of this, flat turf favourite statistics in 2015 show that the season to the end of June saw 33.13% of clear market leaders winning, for a loss at SP of 8.34%. In July and August, clear jollies prevailed just 31.36% of the time and lost a whopping 14.97% of stakes.

That microcosm is interesting in itself, but some context may shine a brighter light on proceedings. Looking at the previous three summers reveals the following:

Turf flat seasons 2012-14 to end of June: 33.31% winners, for a loss of 6.01%

Turf flat seasons 2012-14 July and August: 34.05% winners, for a loss of 8.03%

There are lots of possible inferences one could draw from those data, not least of which is the potential squeezing of book margins leading to the reduced ROI figures. While that is conjecture on my part and requires a good deal more digging to even begin to confirm, one thing is not in doubt: it's been a pretty tough time for most punters.

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Separately, but contributing to a personal muted enjoyment of the flat season, is the lack of quality to punctuate the bloated fixture list these past few months. Racing needs its superstar horses in the same way that every sport needs them. But, whereas Messi and Ronaldo will boot up 50-odd times in a season across all competitions, racing's stars are increasingly sparingly campaigned.

Gleneagles, this year's 2000 Guineas winner, is an example. He has been seen on track just twice since that Newmarket win in early May, and not at all since 16th June 2015. He's been withdrawn due to the ground more than once, and while the commercial realities of the breeding sheds are grudgingly accepted, it is a criminal waste of talent - to say nothing of the disappointment to the viewing public - when tip-toppers are so heavily protected.

Although it may be harsh (actually, it is harsh) to compare any animal with Frankel, that lad book-ended his career with soft ground wins, beating top-notchers in Nathaniel on debut and Cirrus Des Aigles on curtain fall. He reached an official rating high of 135 at the end of his 3yo season.

Gleneagles and his cotton wool ownership have managed to race just once on softer than good - and only good to yielding at that - achieving a rating of 'just' 122.

The form of Gleneagles' Guineas win at Newmarket has taken plenty of knocks, and his Irish equivalent win looks even more hollow. Further smudges appear on his palmarès when one notes that the four horses behind him in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes have been beaten on all five of their collective starts since.

What I'm trying to say, in the context of such hollow form, is that there is little sense in protecting Gleneagles in this way. Surely breeders and buyers will know the house of cards on which Coolmore's flag-bearer's Classic form is built.

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[Sure, he was a very good juvenile, and that's attractive enough to breeders/buyers, but with so many other stallion options, Gleneagles would be a swerve in the barns at this stage for the Bisogno millions. Ahem.]

Now, to be fair (actually, I think I've been fair already), Gleneagles still has time to come out and show that he can do more. Perhaps in the Irish Champion Stakes, or the Breeders Cup Classic even. Given his ground dependencies, the chances of him being seen at Ascot on Champions Day look pretty slim from this range. In any case, it's not all about Gleneagles...

Looking at the big meetings, from a personal perspective, I enjoyed Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood as much as ever; and I gave York my usual 'kid gloves' treatment, because I consider it to be the hardest meeting of the entire year - flat and jumps - at which to find winners.

**

So, since Goodwood, which ended on 1st August, I've found it very difficult to get excited about flat racing. Luckily, that's about to change due to a similar Anglo-Irish call on our time this weekend as there is during Glorious Goodwood, when Galway contends for our affections.

This time, we have Doncaster's St Leger meeting fidgeting uneasily at the increasingly likely prospect of being usurped by Irish Champions Weekend (ICW), despite hosting the fifth and final British Classic.

ICW was a huge success last year upon the inaugural bolting together of two established meetings, one from the Curragh and one from Leopardstown. That success was, without question, down in part to meteorological fortune, and it may again be that the gods (or, more correctly, the sun's rays) shine on Dublin's outer limits.

Currently, the turf is reported to be at least good on both circuits, enhancing the chances of Gleneagles joining The Grey Gatsby and others pre-entered such as Golden Horn, in the Irish Champion Stakes. The full pre-entries can be downloaded here (Saturday) and here (Sunday).

Meanwhile, Donny will bid for screen time mainly courtesy of the Leger, the Park Hill Stakes, and the Portland Handicap. They also report good ground, and have a dry week forecast. So, unless we get some unexpected cloubursts, the racing this weekend could see the high summer funk replaced by some late summer fireworks. Let's hope so.

****

Even in the teeth of a bombardment of moderate racing, some services rise above the mediocrity to deliver profits for their followers. Stat of the Day is one such. During July and August, while most were suffering punting reversals, Chris's picks notched 19 winners from 47 selections - an 'out of the park' 40.43% strike rate - for £855.80 profit at £20 stakes. That 91% ROI is clearly unsustainable, but Stat of the Day is sure to continue to provide juicy profits for its followers.

Indeed, in 2015 as a whole, this one a day service which forms part of Geegeez Gold (and is free to all on Mondays. Oh, it's Monday today. Woohoo!), has netted 103.75 units to end August. That's £2,075 clear profit from £20 stakes.

And here's a thing: Chris also runs a 'sister service' called Statpicks.

Statpicks runs along the same lines as SotD - data leading to a selection - and after a sluggish start, has netted its followers 67.7 points profit in 2015. Again, at £20 stakes, that's £1,354.

Statpicks has just opened again for new members, and you can get your first month for just £7. Statpicks is available for an extremely reasonable £19 per month (when you take out a quarterly sub), and you can read all about it here:

-

JOIN STATPICKS FOR JUST £7

Matt

p.s. Something happened to me this morning which disgusted me. And I don't use that phrase lightly. A major bookmaker tried to install a piece of software onto my computer to spy on my betting activity. I'd heard of this only recently, and have started digging. I will report on this tomorrow hopefully, including how you can check your own machine to see if they're snooping on you, and how you can resolve the situation if they are.

UPDATE: That post has now been published, and can be viewed here.

A Big Week Cometh…

A big week for flat racing...q

A big week for flat racing...

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.

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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.

Matt

Sunday Supplement: Betting Le(d)gers

Sunday Supplement

Sunday Supplement

Sunday supplement

By Tony Stafford

On Saturday morning, I was driven up to Doncaster full of hope that Great Hall would make the frame in the Ladbrokes St Leger. Despite weakening in the closing stages, excused by jockey Kieren Fallon as being in part due to his relative inexperience and probably unsuitable ground, the consensus was that he showed plenty for Raymond Tooth to look forward to.

What goes without saying though is that surely it is time to embrace Joseph O’Brien for what he has become, a remarkable young man and an extremely talented jockey.

Being Aidan O’Brien’s son, almost six feet tall and the man selected to ride the Coolmore horses by the age of barely 19, as he was when partnering Camelot to victory in the Investec Derby at Epsom, he deserved far better response than the media was prepared to give him.

Move on another year and a bit, after Camelot’s failed Triple Crown when beaten in last year’s St Leger was in many parts explained as a Joseph blunder, where in fact it was a function of Camelot’s not quite matching the hype which had attempted to equate him to Frankel. Here, Joseph at 20 is streets ahead of the field as he approaches a second successive Irish jockeys’ championship and now was returning to Doncaster as the ultra-confident agent to Leading Light’s emphatic success.

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For a few moments, as Fallon brought Great Hall up the rail two from home into a closing third, the impossible seemed almost likely. Before the race he’d told us that Wayne Lordan had nominated middle of the track as the favoured ground, but circumstances forced him to stay near the rail as he attempted to pass two Godolphin horses simultaneously.

But in the end, it was two bits of Classic form, as exhibited by Oaks winner Talent, and Derby third Galileo Rock that earned the places and added a solid look to the final English Classic of 2013. Aiden’s a master; his elder son is bordering on greatness and with the likelihood that the long-anticipated ballooning of his weight just around 9st is being fended off in the George Baker fashion, he could be here for a long time. If not, he’ll make a fair assistant trainer at Ballydoyle.

As to Aidan, what more can you say? Leading Light made it four in a row, having shown enough speed in the spring to win at 10 furlongs, then the stamina for all-the-way triumph in the two-mile Queen’s Vase at Ascot. What to do in the 12 weeks between Ascot and Doncaster? Just prepare him for the big day and the grin on Derrick Smith’s face as he did his characteristic lead-in on Saturday, had an air of inevitability about it.

It was also probably inevitable that Manchester United would get a penalty (which even their media mates believed in error) and at the same time have the opposing Crystal Palace reduced by one at Old Trafford while Arsenal’s defensive qualities were again questioned when their early lead at Sunderland was chalked out by the third penalty they’ve conceded in only four games. That one too was questionable.

What is without question is that United, City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool, worthy candidates for this most open of Premier League title races, will wonder just how the concerted, may we say conspiratorial, efforts to deny Arsenal any of the important targets their at the time under-fire manager Arsene Wenger had targeted with the £70 million cash he had at his disposal, had failed to prevent Mesut Ozil signing on deadline day.

Some of the wailing, especially from Tottenham’s chairman, and the “bad value” comments of their manager smacked of frustration. At the same time, the idiotic “how will he fit in?” sentiments showed just how unimaginative most football journalists are. If you’re that good, you could play right back and make a fist of it. Watching Saturday’s virus-affected performance, at Sunderland of all places, suggested to many that Ozil will be footballer of the year. I’ve rarely seen a player so instantly take control of a ball, however it’s played to him, and instinctively know where he’ll put it.

I was wrong about backing Great Hall for the St Leger, but I know I’m right about Arsenal. Considering the difficulties that the three accepted top clubs will encounter under their new managers – and they’ve all dropped unexpected points already – the 10-1 about the most stable club in the country is amazingly generous.

On Saturday, when many of their players had been away playing two international games, and others were unfit to play partly or entirely because of those exertions, they overcame a trip that in the recent past would have tested them far more seriously than this. Mertesacker, previously a joke object in the media, has - like John Terry - overcome his limitations as the assets of reading the game and engendering a team spirit have developed. He was missing with a worse version of Ozil’s sickness. He’ll be back quickly though.

Giroud, the centre-forward who they reckoned not good enough, made it four from four, each time the first goal in the game, with another sure finish. Arsenal won despite being without long or medium-term absentees Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanogo (their freebie French import), Rosicky, Arteta, Cazorla and Diaby (as usual). No strength in depth? I’m going in again – what happened to that no-punting pledge?

Doncaster Trainer Stats – St Leger Meeting

dONNY NEWNEW

It's a Big Week On Town Moor.......

This week (Weds 11th-Sat 14th  Sept 2013) sees the four day Doncaster St Leger Meeting get underway – and to help you find a few winners Andy Newton highlights five stables that have fantastic record at the track, while there are also three leading yards that don’t do as well as you might think with their Town Moor runners…… Read more

New date for St Leger under consideration

St Leger - run in August?

St Leger - run in August?

The world’s oldest Classic race, the St Leger, could be on the move next year, in time, but in geography. The possibility of the race taking place before the kids go back to school at the beginning of September was raised after the announcement that the new Champions Weekend in Ireland is set for 13 –14 September next year, the same weekend as the St Leger. Read more

Trainer Stats – 19th Sept 2012

Al Zarooni Fresh From His Leger Win

This week Andy Newton’s got six in-form flat trainers to look out for, plus one high profile name you might want to avoid. Read more

Monday Mish Mash: Legers, Arcs and the Like…

Encke get first run on Camelot in the St Leger

Encke get first run on Camelot in the St Leger

Crikey. That was an interesting weekend of top level racing. Inconclusive in the main. And perhaps more interesting as a consequence.

We expected to hail the first triple crown winner for 42 years on Saturday afternoon, but that wasn't to be as either pilot or conveyance (or both) were found wanting when push came to shove.

And, in a post which features news of Arc trials, Geegeez syndicate horses (current and future), and free betting systems, let's start with the push and shove of Donny's 3.40 race from two days ago.

The stage was set. Camelot, the undisputed champion of the three year old division - if that isn't damning him with the faintest of praise - pointed his hooves towards the Donny jamstick.

He missed the break by a beat, as if that matters over one mile six and a half furlongs. It didn't matter of course. Young rider, Joseph O'Brien, had Camelot beautifully settled on the inside, and he cruised into the race. Indeed, at the quarter mile pole, he was still on the bridle, with the O'Brien fundament skywards a la Carberry.

Swinging though he was on the bit, there were four horses in front of him and, perhaps crucially, forming an equine wall requiring tactical negotiation. In the brief moment a furlong and a half from home when Camelot saw the parting in that sea of hooves ahead of him, and navigated to clear sailing, Encke quickened.

I've watched the race a handful of times, and Encke clearly quickens. That turn of gear was unmatched by the Triple Crown aspirant, and proved decisive. Camelot, a classy grinder, may have outstayed them in the Derby, but in this tactical contest he was done up by a better ride.

In the furore surrounding the slipped triple crown, little has been said of the exquisite ride Barzalona applied atop Encke. Always in the right place - close enough if good enough, as the adage goes - Barza was already berating his beast with arms and reins afrenzy, while O'Brien went from bridle to whip with nothing in between.

That, to me, is what made the younger jockey (by only two years, note) the villain of the piece. Sure, his horse didn't accelerate as he expected him to. But, come on, when have you seen a horse accelerate in strides to win a Leger? Not for 42 years, I'll venture.

The deficit was three or so lengths when Camelot came off the bridle, with a cudgelling Barzalona rowing away on Encke to accentuate the margin. At the furlong pole, it was two lengths. By the line, it was three-quarters of a length, with a full three back to the third horse.

In my mind, there is little doubt that O'Brien expected to pick up and pass all-comers when he made his move 330 yards from the finish. But he'd left himself little room to manoeuvre, both in his boxed in rail position, and in the remaining race distance when button was pressed.

The thing is, there is no advantage to be gleaned from winning on the line. There's no handicapper to appease, no concern over a rise in rating. In that context, it is impossible for me to feel anything other than rider error cost Camelot and his business-savvy owners here. True, O'Brien Jr. didn't get the breaks when he needed them. But, in such a high profile affair - stud value and 'legendary' (how I hate the misuse of that word, hence the ironic punctuation) status at stake - you don't rely on luck.

Rather, you make sure you have clear daylight. You make sure your horse has time to go through his gears. You come back after the race satisfied, in victory or defeat, that the horse had every chance of claiming his corner of racing history.

The level of debate which has ensued says all that needs saying about whether Camelot was given his chance. I fear, despite the robust defence from the home team, that there will be many a frustrated evening over the coming winter at Ballydoyle and beyond.

********

Barely time for a heated conversation about the merits of the St Leger's horses and riders, before we were whisked away to the Parisian suburbs for Arc trials day. The big race itself is in just twenty days time, and most of the French challengers - and some of the Brits and Japanese - were staking an early claim.

The Prix Foy was the first of the trials, and Japan's great hope, Orfevre, was bidding to prove he could do what he does in Kyoto, Tokyo, Hanshin, and Nakayama, on a different continent.

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The winner of eight of his last ten starts, Orfevre includes five Group or Grade 1's in that tally. Moreover, in a range plus or minus one furlong of the Arc's twelve furlong trip, he is unbeaten in five races: three G1's and two G2's.

He won the Foy well, beating a very good horse in Meandre. The nature of the win, quickening off a typically slow Gallic race gallop, was impressive. Ally that to his big field top class wins in Japan, and you have a genuine contender for the Arc itself. He is now a general 9/2 shot for the big one, and I think that's at least fair enough.

The next of the trials is historically the most pertinent, the Prix Niel. Again, the tempo was slow, although this time it was more funereal than merely pedestrian. The victor, Saonois, was the horse with the best acceleration, and he showed courage to spear himself through a tight gap when it emerged. He had Secretariat Stakes winner, Bayrir, in behind and that looks like solid enough form. Whether it's Arc-winning form is another question entirely.

As the winner of the Prix du Jockey Club as well, Saonois will be a highly fancied runner come Arc day, and his 10/1 odds may truncate 'twixt now and then. That said, he represents unfashionable connections, and it will be a great story if he can prevail. His turn of foot gives hope; his lack of a top drawer speed figure leaves questions unanswered.

The third and final 'trial' for the Arc - a very harsh description of a race which is a fantastic Group 1 race in its own right - was the Prix Vermeille. Restricted to fillies and mares, it drew a large and classy field this term, and produced an unambiguous winner.

Shareta was that winner, quickening smartly and repelling raiders with panache as well as punch. As with most runners in most of the trials, their trainers have left something to work on between now and Arc day. This lass was second last year in the Arc, behind the likely re-opposer Danedream, and she has an obvious chance of following up three weeks hence.

With the deeper and classier line up in the Vermeille, it may come as no surprise that the race time was much quicker. Indeed, the Vermeille was run 5.2 seconds quicker than the Foy; and a whopping 6.25 seconds quicker than the Niel.

In lengths, that would equate to around sixteen lengths and twenty lengths respectively, if I've done my lengths per second per mile calculations correctly (I probably haven't). In any case, it is always important to remember that a fast time means a horse can run fast; a slow time does not mean a horse can only run slowly. Time will tell, literally, in early October.

Given the paucity of decent three year old colts this year, and absence of three year old fillies, it looks likely that an older horse will bag the Arc this time. If that doesn't seem like a big deal, consider this: only one of the last nine winners, and only three of the last eighteen, were older than three. Which of the older horses might prevail remains the burning question.

********

Onwards, and from the top of pops weekend racing to the more workaday stuff. But, with workaday comes accessibility. So it is that geegeez.co.uk's own horse, Khajaaly, runs this afternoon at Wolverhampton, for the first time in exactly six months.

Since his last sighting on the track, a last of seven in a seller, he's had an operation on a leg growth which was clearly troubling him that day.

Today's contest is run under optimal conditions - seven furlongs, Class 5, Wolves - and he has a good draw and a jockey who knows both horse and course exceptionally well.

Khajaaly will hopefully travel well into the race, and then we'll see. In truth, after his op, I'm just hoping he enjoys being back on the track. He's a three time winner over track and trip, though, so there is always scope for a soupçon of optimism. 🙂

Class 6 is probably more his bag, but fingers and toes are firmly crossed.

On the matter of our latest syndicate venture, we have reached a near critical mass in terms of syndicate members now, and I am now moving forward with things. That means we'll be looking for a likely type to place in training with Anthony Honeyball, and to race under National Hunt rules.

I have two spaces left, so please do email me asap if you might be interested in joining us. We're looking to mobilise this pronto to take advantage of the impending NH season. info@geegeez.co.uk is the email address.

********

And finally today, I almost forgot to mention this. You may well have heard it from elsewhere already. Anyway, if you haven't, a guy called Paul Ruffy is giving away a couple of betting systems.

One of them looks particularly interesting, and Paul is a chap with a very good reputation. I've met him a few times, and he's a very straight up sort of bloke, who has run his WinningRacingTips service for ages: longevity in this market itself being a sign of trustworthiness.

So, it's the usual drill: you swap your email address for the systems, and you have full control over whether you remain subscribed or not. (As with my emails to you, all of Paul's have a link at the bottom where you can opt out if you don't think he's adding value). And, yes, Paul does have something to sell. I've not seen the product, so I can't comment on it, but I can tell you that it will be well researched, knowing Mr Ruffy.

Obviously, there's no obligation to sign up with him or to buy anything, but you might enjoy these two systems. You can get them here.

********

So that was how I saw the weekend. What were your thoughts on the St Leger? Who do you like for the Arc? Or the 3.30 Wolverhampton? 😉

Leave a comment and let us know!

Matt

Well I Declare: 15th September

Well I Declare: 15th September

Well I Declare: 15th September

It's another busy day today and most eyes will be focused on the St Leger meeting at Doncaster, but we mustn't forget that there's still some decent action scheduled elsewhere at Bath, Chester, Newcastle and Kempton. Here's a second chance to see Mal Boyle's preview of the day from earlier in the week as he analyses...

...SATURDAY 15/9:

DONCASTER:

General stats: You have to admire Aidan O’Brien.  Despite having the long odds on favourite for the final classic of the season, the trainer was responsible for six of the sixteen five-day declarations earlier in the week, with Aidan leaving nothing to chance.

Class 2 one mile handicap scheduled for 1.50: Three-year-olds have won three of the last five renewals, whilst two favourites have won in the last nine years.  Eight of the fourteen recent market leaders secured toteplacepot positions.

‘Champagne Stakes’ due to be contested at 2.25: Richard Hannon broke his recent hoodoo in the contest by saddling last year’s winner (Trumpet Major) and the trainer looks to hold the ace in the pack this time around with Toronado.  Five favourites have won during the last fifteen years, whilst nine of the sixteen market leaders have secured toteplacepot positions.

‘Portland Handicap’ scheduled for 3.00: The last ten winners have carried 8-12 or more, whilst five-year-olds have won the last five renewals.  Four favourites have won during the last fifteen years, which is a perfectly respectable ratio given the competitive nature of this event.  Level stake punters would have shown a profit of £700.00 for a one hundred pound investment on market leaders during the study period.  Seven of the last eighteen market leaders have claimed toteplacepot positions in the process, though last year’s favourite finished fifth!  Nine of the last eleven winners were returned at odds ranging between 11/1 and 20/1.

'Draw factor' (five and a half furlongs)

15-7-16-19 (21 ran-good to firm)

7-6-16-8 (22 ran-good)

16-22-2-17 (22 ran-good to firm)

18-9-14-21 (21 ran-soft)

21-11-14-12 (21 ran-good to firm)

5-22-7-4 (21 ran-good to firm)

13-1-8-12 (22 ran-good)

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15-22-8-9 (22 ran-good)

20-16-11-2 (22 ran-good)

9-16-19-14 (22 ran-good to firm)

8-11-9-16 (22 ran-good)

16-20-22-18 (21 ran-good to firm)

10-14-8-3 (21 ran-good)

6-22-19-7 (22 ran-good to firm)

‘St Leger’ scheduled for 3.40: Seven clear market leaders and one joint favourite have prevailed during the last fifteen years.  Fourteen of the sixteen favourites have finished in the frame during the study period.  Aidan O’Brien has won the St Leger three times during the last eleven years which adds confidence to his hot favourite Camelot.  John Gosden has saddled three of the last five winners of the final classic of the season and John comes to the party this year on a hat trick.  A line through Main Sequence suggests that Thought Worthy should not finish too far behind the favourite, if he finishes behind him at all.

‘Park Stakes’ due to be contested at 4.15: Older horses (aged four or more) have secured six of the last seven renewals of this event, whilst seven of the nine favourites have secured toteplacepot positions to date, statistics which include two successful market leaders.

One mile Nursery event scheduled for 4.50: Favourites come to the gig on a four timer though the handicapper would not appreciate the market leader scoring again.  Five of the last 11 favourites have finished in the frame (three winners).  If early jockey bookings ‘float your boat’, Jamie Spencer was jocked aboard Glory Awaits for Kevin Ryan as early as Monday afternoon, the only pilot to have been ‘confirmed’ at the time.

Class 2 twelve furlong handicap scheduled for 5.20: Four of the last six renewals have fallen the way of favourites of one description or another.  Three and four-year-olds have (equally) shared six of the last eight renewals, whilst junior representatives come to the gig on a hat trick on this occasion.

 

BATH:

General stats: Robert Cowell’s 4/7 ratio stands out from the west country crowd. Denis Coakley’s LSP reading of sixty-seven points (via ten winners) catches the eye.

 

CHESTER:

General stats: Marco Botti has saddled three of his nine runners on the Roodee to winning effect.

 

NEWCASTLE:

General stats: Rae Guest has his team in sparkling from at the time of writing (last three runners in this country have won) and his 5/15 strike rate at Newcastle is worth reporting. 

 

KEMPTON:

General stats: John Balding only held two options all week, one of which was Point North who is scheduled to contest the 8.55 event at the time of writing.  John’s 3/14 ratio at Kempton is backed up by an LSP reading of thirteen points.

Sat TV Trends: 15th Sept 2012

Who Will Land The Oldest Classic?

It's Ladbrokes St Leger Day and we've got all the key trends and stats ahead of the LIVE C4 races this Saturday..... Read more

Trainer Stats 11th Sept 2012

 

O'Brien's Horses Are In Form

Andy Newton’s got plenty of hot yards to look out for, plus he looks at the form of the Gosden and O’Brien stables ahead of Saturday’s St Leger...... Read more

Well I Declare: 11th to 15th September

Well I Declare: 11th September

Well I Declare: 11th September

Fortunately it has been a quiet week at Boyle Towers since I last offered a service which is just as well, given the staging of the Doncaster St Leger meeting this week and here are last year’s stats from the meeting for your perusal:

28 races--32 favourites--8 winners--13 placed--11 unplaced

Richard Hannon was the only trainer to secure three successes which were recorded at 7/1, 7/1 & 7/2.  Richard saddled a 35/1 double on the opening day, a feat only copied by Saeed Bin Suroor on the final day of the meeting who scored with 13/2 and 7/2 gold medallists which equates to the thick end of a 33/1 double.

Other trainers who saddled two winners during the course of the four-day fixture were John Gosden (15/2 & 9/2), Paul Midgley (9/1 & 7/1) and John Oxx (11/2 & 11/4).

Negative stats relating to beaten favourites applied to Kevin Ryan, John Gosden and Brian Meehan, the three trainers all saddling two ‘casualties’ apiece.

 

Juvenile race stats and facts:

10 races--12 favourites--4 winners--5 placed--3 unplaced

The only odds on favourite all week was a juvenile at 8/15 which duly obliged.

The trainers of the four successful favourites were David Wachman, John Gosden, Saeed Bin Suroor and Roger Varian.

Brian Meehan’s two beaten favourites at the meeting were in the two-year-old sector.

Richard Hannon was the only trainer to saddle two winners in two-year-old races (7/1 & 7/2).

Eight of the ten winners were returned at odds of 10/1 or less, the other two gold medallists being sent off at 12/1 & 20/1. 

Thirty one horses were sent off at 22/1 or more without securing a victory.  Three reached the frame (exact science)--28 unplaced.

Street Cry was the only sire to secure two victories in the juvenile sector.

The ten winners hailed from the following foaling months:

5--March

3--April

1--January

1--February

 

Toteplacepot returns last year:

Wednesday: £134.30 (average return of £273.19 during the last nine years)

Thursday: £911.40 (£365.96)

Friday: £193.40 (£533.75)

Saturday: £209.80 (£406.17)

 

Looking at the bigger picture during the period (Tuesday to Saturday inclusive) of the corresponding St Leger week from last year, the following trainers who saddled at least three winners at all racecourses were as follows:

12--Richard Hannon (All prices down the line from 2/1* to 9/1)

6--Mark Johnston (14/1--12/1--10/1--7/1--9/4**--2/1*)

5--Mahmood Al Zarooni (9/1--5/1--2/1*--15/8*--13/8*)

3--Mick Channon (8/1--7/1--5/1)

3--John Dunlop (11/2**--11/4*--9/4*)

4--John Gosden (15/2--9/2*--100/30--5/4*)

3--William Haggas (9/4*--4/5*--2/5*)

3--Declan Carroll (4/1*--4/1--7/2)

3--Sir Mark Prescott (6/4*--5/4*--4/6*)

3--Saeed Bin Suroor (13/2--7/2**--10/11*)

3--Chris Wall (10/1--7/1--15/8*)

2--Kevin Ryan (8/1 & 15/8* + NH winner at 14/1)


Now onto our bread and butter daily racing focus starting with...

 

...TUESDAY 11/9:

LEICESTER:

General stats: James Tate (5/8 at the venue in recent years) has declared two horses on the Leicester card.

2.20: Mark Johnston has saddled three of the last ten winners of this opening event and the trainer is represented by his Danehill Dancer filly Penny Rose this time around.  Favourites have won four of the last eight renewals, whilst eight winners during the last decade were sent off at odds of 7/1 or less.  Seven of the last ten market leaders have secured toteplacepot positions.

2.50: All five winners have scored at 8/1 or less, statistics which include two successful favourites.  The other three market leaders all finished out of the money (exact science).

3.20: The last eight winners of this event have carried a maximum burden of 8-10, whilst the last ten winners have scored at odds of 10/1 or less statistics which include three successful market leaders.  Six of the ten favourites during the study period secured toteplacepot positions.

3.50: Richard Hannon held three options at the weekend for a race in which he saddled the winners of both divisions last year.  Perfect Pose has been offered the green light by the trainer.  Nine of the last ten winners have scored at odds of 9/1 or less, whilst four of the last six favourites have prevailed.  Six of the last ten favourites have finished in the money from a toteplacepot perspective.

4.20: Three of the four favourites (via three renewals) have secured toteplacepot positions, statistics which include two winners.  Three-year-olds have won all the contests thus far.

4.50: Five of the last six winners have carried weights of nine stones or more, whilst just one favourite has prevailed via the last eight renewals during the which time, four winners were sent off at 33/1-33/1-25/1-10/1.  Eight of the last thirteen favourites have claimed toteplacepot positions.

5.20: All five win and place positions to date have been claimed by horses carrying 9-1 or more.

 

REDCAR:

General stats: Silver Sycamore (4.00) represents David Lanigan who boasts a 40% record at Redcar via 2/5 stats.

 

WORCESTER:

General stats: Partners Anthony Honeyball (11/28) and Rachel Green (11/22) reign supreme at the venue as stated recently, whilst Anthony was the subject of a positive Geegeez blog last week.

 

WEDNESDAY 12/9:

DONCASTER:

General stats: William Buick’s 24% strike rate on Town Moor is decent enough, notwithstanding his back up via an LSP figure which stands at forty-four points!

2.00: Five of the six win and place positions to date have been secured by horses carrying weights of 9-3 more, statistics which include both (25/1 & 9/2) winners.  The 3/1 favourite finished out of the frame in the inaugural running of this Nursery event before last year’s 9/2 market leader obliged.

2.30: Five of the last fourteen favourites have prevailed (though only two of the last 11), whilst eight of the fourteen market leaders have claimed toteplacepot positions during the period.

3.05: The last twelve winners of this Listed event have carried weights of 9-7 or more, which eliminates the bottom three horses if you take the stats literally, whilst two favourites have prevailed during the last fifteen years.  Nine of the seventeen market leaders have reached the frame during the study period.

3.40: All three favourites (via two renewals) have secured toteplacepot positions, statistics which include both (9/2 and 4/1) winners.

4.10: Eight of the thirteen market leaders have secured toteplacepot positions (four winning favourites).

4.45: Four of the five winners to date have carried 8-11 or less whereby you should not be too quick to eliminate the bottom weights as some people tend to do in handicap events. Two of the six market leaders (via five renewals) have secured toteplacepot positions to date (no winners).

'Draw factor' (seven furlongs)

9-10-1 (12 ran-good)

6-8-3 (12 ran-good)

6-2-10 (9 ran-good to firm)

11-4-8 (14 ran-soft)

12-5-11 (12 ran-good to firm)

5.15: Four-year-olds have won five of the last nine renewals whilst three favourites have prevailed during the last decade.  The last nine winners have carried a maximum weight of nine stones.

 

CARLISLE:

General stats: Three favourites won on an eight race card twelve months ago with plenty of leading trainers responsible for the winners, though no handler saddled a double on the day.  Just two double priced winners were recorded which was reasonable given that the ground changed from soft to heavy following persistent rain throughout the afternoon, notwithstanding a strong headwind. 

 

KEMPTON:

General stats: The only successful (4/5) favourite on last year’s card was the lone odds on market leader on the day.

 

UTTOXETER:

General stats: Three favourites obliged on last year’s card when the biggest priced winner was returned at just 9/1.  Fourteen of the eighteen available toteplacepot positions were secured by horses returned in single figure prices, whereby the £6.00 dividend did not come as a surprise.

 

THURSDAY 13/9:

DONCASTER:

General stats: Johnny Murtagh was booked to ride Sentaril on the card, the jockey boasting 8/29 stats at Doncaster during the last five years.  Note all of Johnny’s rides this week.

Nursery event scheduled for 1.15: Eleven of the twelve winners have carried weights of 9-3, whilst two of the thirteen market leaders have prevailed thus far, with six of the other twelve market leaders claiming additional toteplacepot positions.  Aside from the winning 9/4 and 3/1 favourites, the other scorers were returned at 20/1, 20/1, 16/1, 12/1, 12/1, 12/1, 10/1, 13/2, 11/2 & 9/2.

'Draw factor' (six and a half furlongs)

1-4-5 (13 ran-good)

1-12-6-10 (18 ran-good)

7-6-3 (11 ran-good to firm)

16-2-14-8 (16 ran-soft)

3-9-7 (8 ran-good to firm)

6-8-9 (13 ran-heavy)

11-4-10 (14 ran-firm)

15-12-11-14 (22 ran-good)

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5-6-14-3 (17 ran-good to firm)

19-1-14-3 (20 ran-good)

12-22-8-21 (22 ran-good to firm)

10-13-17-16 (17 ran-good to firm)

‘Sceptre Stakes’ scheduled for 1.50: Three-year-olds have won eleven of the last fourteen renewals, whilst four favourites have won this race in the last fifteen years.  Seven market leaders have claimed toteplacepot position in the process.

'Draw factor' (seven furlongs)

7-6-1 (11 ran-good)

10-7-9 (13 ran-good)

5-6-1 (10 ran-good to firm)

12-9-6 (12 ran-soft)

3-8-9 (15 ran-good to firm)

4-6-10 (9 ran-good)

7-2-13 (15 ran-good to firm)

6-16-19 (17 ran-good)

8-10-7 (15 ran-good to firm)

14-12-13 (13 ran-good)

13-7-3 (11 ran-good to firm)

9-5-2 (11 ran-good to firm)

5-4-11 (14 ran-good)

£300,000 added 2YO Stakes event scheduled for 2.20: Eight of the fourteen favourites have secured toteplacepot positions which is a fair record in this competitive event (three winning favourites in the last eight years), especially as just three places are up for grabs in this cavalry charge.

'Draw factor' (six and a half furlongs)

13-4-19 (21 ran-good)

4-12-2 (21 ran-Good)

21-4-1 (19 ran-good to firm)

16-17-9 (21 ran-soft)

7-20-13 (22 ran-good to firm)

10-18-15 (22 ran-good to firm)

12-17-19 (22 ran-good)

5-15-13 (22 ran-good)

17-18-21 (21 ran-good)

22-20-17 (22 ran-good to firm)

4-10-3 (22 ran-good)

6-1-18 (21 ran-good to firm)

11-4-20 (22 ran-good)

‘Park Hill Stakes’ scheduled for 2.55: Three-year-olds have won nine of the last fifteen renewals, though four-year-olds come into this year’s contest on a hat trick.  Two clear market leaders have prevailed during the last fifteen years, alongside a co favourite of three.  Eleven of the seventeen market leaders have secured toteplacepot positions during the study period.

One mile maiden juvenile event due to be contested at 3.30: Seven of the last fifteen market leaders have won, whilst a horse returned at 6/4 (second favourite) also obliged during the period.  Thirteen of the fifteen market leaders secured a toteplacepot position.

'Draw factor' (eight furlongs):

5-16-8 (15 ran-good)

13-11-15 (15 ran-good)

3-10-1 (9 ran-good to firm)

10-5-2 (12 ran-soft)

3-8-9 (11 ran-soft)

6-3-5 (11 ran-good to firm)

6-1-10 (10 ran-good to firm)

3-8-4 (11 ran-good)

7-17-9 (17 ran-good)

9-3-13 (13 ran-good)

12-3-6 (14 ran-good to firm)

2-1-9 (10 ran-good)

10-2-1 (12 ran-good to firm)

7-2-9 (16 ran-good)

7-3-1 (8 ran-good to firm)

Six furlong all aged handicap scheduled for 4.05: Two of the five favourites have finished in the frame (one winner).

'Draw factor' (six furlongs)

16-20-18-13 (21 ran-good)

4-21-8-13 (19 ran-good)

18-17-20-8 (20 ran-good to firm)

16-18-2-17 (21 ran-soft)

17-15-12-16 (20 ran-good to firm)

Class 2 ten furlong handicap scheduled for 4.35: Eight of the last nine winners carried weights of 9-1 or more, whilst the same number of gold medallists were returned at odds of 13/2 or less, statistics which include two successful market leaders.

 

CHEPSTOW:

General stats: Two favourites won on a seven race card last year with five gold medallists scoring in single figures.  The two exceptions were both returned at odds of 16/1. 

 

EPSOM:

General stats: Although only one favourite obliged on the six race card, the other five gold medallists were 9/1 or less.

 

WOLVERHAMPTON:

General stats: Three of the seven winners were returned in double figures, albeit no extreme outsiders scored, the relevant gold medallists being returned at 12/1-12/1-10/1.  Thirty four horses were sent off at odds of 14/1 or more without succeeding.

 

FRIDAY 14/9:

DONCASTER:

General stats: Watch out for any David Lanigan runners at Donny this week, the trainer boasting prolific figures of 6/13 to date. 

‘Flying Childers’ juvenile event scheduled for 1.15: Seven favourites have won during the last fifteen years, whilst eight of the sixteen market leaders (joint favourites were returned in 1999) secured toteplacepot positions.  Fifty five horses contested this event at odds of 12/1 or more during the last decade without success.

'Draw factor' (five furlongs):

2-4-1 (10 ran-good)

2-11-10 (12 ran-good)

9-2-4 (10 ran-good to firm)

11-7-6 (12 ran-soft)

4-3-6 (8 ran-good to firm)

6-9-4 (9 ran-heavy)

7-3-12 (11 ran-firm)

6-12-3 (13 ran-good)

8-7-1 (14 ran-good to firm)

13-12-14 (13 ran-good)

3-6-2 (11 ran-good to firm)

13-7-9 (14 ran-good to firm)

2-8-6 (13 ran-good)

5-1 (7 ran-good to firm)

‘Mallard Stakes’ scheduled for 1.50: Twelve of the last fifteen winners have carried weights of 9-4 or less, whilst eight three-year-olds have won during the study period.  Four clear market leaders and one joint favourite have won during the last fifteen years, though only three of the other fourteen favourites claimed toteplacepot positions.

‘Doncaster Cup’ due to be contested at 2.20: Four favourites have won the Doncaster Cup since 1998, though ten of the other eleven favourites during the study period finished out of the frame.

‘May Hill Stakes’ scheduled for 2.55: Richard Hannon has secured two of the last seven renewals (the only potentially represented trainer to have saddled two winners during the last decade) and Light Up My Life was Richard’s only option at the five-day stage.  Six market leaders have won during the last fifteen years, whilst ten of the fifteen favourites have secured toteplacepot positions.

Seven furlong Conditions event scheduled for 3.30: Saeed Bin Suroor has won this race twice in the last seven years and Saeed’s only entry at the five-day stage was Tarikhi.  Six clear market leaders and one joint favourite have won via the last 14 renewals, whilst nine of the fifteen ’jollies’ snared toteplacepot positions.

Six and a half furlong all aged handicap scheduled for 4.05: Richard Fahey had saddled gold and silver medallists via just three renewals before last year’s 33/1 selection (typically) finished fourth in the fifteen runner handicap event!  Richard held two options at the five-day stage this time around.  The 5/2 favourite secured a toteplacepot position in the inaugural running before the last two market leaders finished down the field.

'Draw factor' (six and a half furlongs)

3-2-10 (15 ran-good)

11-7-13-14 (18 ran-good)

2-3-10 (11 ran-good to firm)

Classified event over ten furlongs scheduled for 4.35:

 

CHESTER:

General stats: Paul Mulrennan is a jockey who does not receive the plaudits he deserves often enough.  Paul’s strike rate at Chester in recent years stands at 23%, backed up by twenty-four points of level stake profits.

 

SANDOWN:

General stats: Jeremy Noseda held five entries at Sandown at the time of writing and with current stats standing at Sandown of 15/48 (31%), Jeremy’s LSP figure of eighteen points at the venue adds icing on the cake.

 

WOLVERHAMPTON:

General stats: Shirley Teasdale (you have got to love that name) has ridden four winners via seventeen opportunities at Dunstall Park with more winners waiting to happen.  It’s just a case of how soon the gold medallists will arrive.

 

SATURDAY 15/9:

DONCASTER:

General stats: You have to admire Aidan O’Brien.  Despite having the long odds on favourite for the final classic of the season, the trainer was responsible for six of the sixteen five-day declarations earlier in the week, with Aidan leaving nothing to chance.

Class 2 one mile handicap scheduled for 1.50: Three-year-olds have won three of the last five renewals, whilst two favourites have won in the last nine years.  Eight of the fourteen recent market leaders secured toteplacepot positions.

‘Champagne Stakes’ due to be contested at 2.25: Richard Hannon broke his recent hoodoo in the contest by saddling last year’s winner (Trumpet Major) and the trainer looks to hold the ace in the pack this time around with Toronado.  Five favourites have won during the last fifteen years, whilst nine of the sixteen market leaders have secured toteplacepot positions.

‘Portland Handicap’ scheduled for 3.00: The last ten winners have carried 8-12 or more, whilst five-year-olds have won the last five renewals.  Four favourites have won during the last fifteen years, which is a perfectly respectable ratio given the competitive nature of this event.  Level stake punters would have shown a profit of £700.00 for a one hundred pound investment on market leaders during the study period.  Seven of the last eighteen market leaders have claimed toteplacepot positions in the process, though last year’s favourite finished fifth!  Nine of the last eleven winners were returned at odds ranging between 11/1 and 20/1.

'Draw factor' (five and a half furlongs)

15-7-16-19 (21 ran-good to firm)

7-6-16-8 (22 ran-good)

16-22-2-17 (22 ran-good to firm)

18-9-14-21 (21 ran-soft)

21-11-14-12 (21 ran-good to firm)

5-22-7-4 (21 ran-good to firm)

13-1-8-12 (22 ran-good)

15-22-8-9 (22 ran-good)

20-16-11-2 (22 ran-good)

9-16-19-14 (22 ran-good to firm)

8-11-9-16 (22 ran-good)

16-20-22-18 (21 ran-good to firm)

10-14-8-3 (21 ran-good)

6-22-19-7 (22 ran-good to firm)

‘St Leger’ scheduled for 3.40: Seven clear market leaders and one joint favourite have prevailed during the last fifteen years.  Fourteen of the sixteen favourites have finished in the frame during the study period.  Aidan O’Brien has won the St Leger three times during the last eleven years which adds confidence to his hot favourite Camelot.  John Gosden has saddled three of the last five winners of the final classic of the season and John comes to the party this year on a hat trick.  A line through Main Sequence suggests that Thought Worthy should not finish too far behind the favourite, if he finishes behind him at all.

‘Park Stakes’ due to be contested at 4.15: Older horses (aged four or more) have secured six of the last seven renewals of this event, whilst seven of the nine favourites have secured toteplacepot positions to date, statistics which include two successful market leaders.

One mile Nursery event scheduled for 4.50: Favourites come to the gig on a four timer though the handicapper would not appreciate the market leader scoring again.  Five of the last 11 favourites have finished in the frame (three winners).  If early jockey bookings ‘float your boat’, Jamie Spencer was jocked aboard Glory Awaits for Kevin Ryan as early as Monday afternoon, the only pilot to have been ‘confirmed’ at the time.

Class 2 twelve furlong handicap scheduled for 5.20: Four of the last six renewals have fallen the way of favourites of one description or another.  Three and four-year-olds have (equally) shared six of the last eight renewals, whilst junior representatives come to the gig on a hat trick on this occasion.

 

BATH:

General stats: Robert Cowell’s 4/7 ratio stands out from the west country crowd. Denis Coakley’s LSP reading of sixty-seven points (via ten winners) catches the eye.

 

CHESTER:

General stats: Marco Botti has saddled three of his nine runners on the Roodee to winning effect.

 

NEWCASTLE:

General stats: Rae Guest has his team in sparkling from at the time of writing (last three runners in this country have won) and his 5/15 strike rate at Newcastle is worth reporting. 

 

KEMPTON:

General stats: John Balding only held two options all week, one of which was Point North who is scheduled to contest the 8.55 event at the time of writing.  John’s 3/14 ratio at Kempton is backed up by an LSP reading of thirteen points.