Summer is drawing to its close and Seymour Biz runs the rule over this weekend’s action. Here are his Lucky 15 picks.
It’s the St Leger this Saturday, the last classic of 2018 and the television cameras will be concentrating on that and basing their whole programme around it. You can be sure to see pictures of the winning jockey wearing that silly hat, pictures of previous winning jocks wearing silly hats plus some of the great finishes we have had in the past. Race Week at Donnie used to be a massive occasion where all the pits closed for the week and the town went racing. But since the demise of the coal industry, it is no longer held in the same high regard it once was. And so it seems neither is the great race itself. The race has become an end of season afterthought as trainers get their charges ready for Longchamp and the Breeders Cup, 1 mile 6 furlong races do not seem to carry the same importance among owners and trainers. This years short priced favourite, Kew Gardens, has only ever run over the distance once, when winning the Queens Vase at Royal Ascot and his career record is four wins from eleven, hardly earth shattering. The undercard is not much better with only the Portland Handicap giving punters a chance to find a decent priced winner. The secondary meeting is very much that, Chester is not my favourite course and several trainers are not very enamoured with it either. This shows up this week with some dire fare served up for us around the saucer shaped course that is the Roodee, perhaps ITV could have taken the cameras to an all-weather track or one of the unfashionable courses like Bath and Musselburgh for a change. However after trawling through the cards I believe I have found some value in the televised races, and here are my thoughts.
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Starting with the 2.05 at Chester, the Read Josephine Gordon Blog At unibet.co.uk/blog Handicap, a 1mile 6furlong race, which is about two circuits of this round track. Top of the betting is Master Archer a dual winner at this course this season, this is a slight drop back in trip for him after winning over 2 miles here at the beginning of this month. He had three of today’s protagonists behind him that day including Project Bluebook and Angel Gabriel. He should reinforce that form even with a 4lb penalty but may not be able to hold off Gordon Elliott’s Kuiper Belt. He is a dual winner this year up in Scotland as well as a victory over the sticks at Sedgefield. He has been odds-on in those three races so his price for this handicap looks inviting. The trainer also has Falak declared but he is likely to contest a later race on the card. Always Resolute looks interesting, Brian Ellison’s gelding is lightly raced this year after banging his head on the stalls at York in June. He is a course winner here back in 2016 so the turns hold no fear for him, he may run into a place. Also a previous winner here is the busy Suegioo but that win was in 2014. Richard Fahey’s 9-year-old was fourth in the Chester Cup in May and may find this trip a little on the sharp side. I will stick with Kuiper Belt chased home by Always Resolute.
At 2.40 is the 32Red Stand Cup Stakes over a mile and a half and there are some classy animals declared for this Listed Race. Walton Street is the bookies choice and Charlie Appleby’s gelding ran well at Newbury last time when trying to make all, passed by Hamada in the final furlong, he was then just touched off for second on the line. Blakeney Point is yet to get off the mark this year, he has been highly tried and was only beaten 6 lengths by Muntahaa at York in the Ebor. Time To Study was out with the washing that day and seems to have lost his way after a promising start to the season. Communique has won three good handicaps this year and trainer Mark Johnson must consider he is good enough to make this step up to listed company. It is to be seen if he can handle the turns here at Chester. Sir Chauvelin was very highly tried in the Lonsdale Cup at York against Stradivarius, he was considered to have run a good race that day. Prior to that he had an excellent victory at Goodwood with Hochfeld back in third, he handled the turns of that track really well that day, so the turns at this course should not be a problem for Jim Goldie’s gelding. Richard Fahey would love to win this for owner Marwan Koukash with old timer Gabrial who survived a stewards enquiry to land a nice race at Epsom last time. However that was his first victory in twenty attempts and he is getting a bit long in the tooth now, he may run into a place but its Sir Chauvelin for me.
The big betting race of the day is the first race on the card at Doncaster. It is the William Hill Portland Handicap at 1.50 over five a half furlongs. Holmeswood is a warm favourite for this on the strength of his good third to El Astronaute at York, he was doing his best work at the end that day after missing the break, he won’t get away with that here. We have a 4-year-old at the top of the handicap, Tis Marvellous trained by Clive Cox. He was run off his feet in El Astronaute’s race, but had run a very good race at Ascot prior to that to win reasonably easily with Watchable and Tommy G in his wake. Encrypted has come back into form after a win on the all-weather at Chelmsford, he won a top class handicap at York in June then lost his way a bit. Richard Guest has secured the services of Gerald Mosse for his charge Udontdoyou, he rode the horse to victory last time at Windsor with Open Wide, Dougan and Shaheen behind him that day. Kick On Kick On ran poorly last time at Wolverhampton after winning a small race at Windsor previously. Clive Cox’s talented three-year-old may not yet be ready for the hustle and bustle of a 22 runner handicap like this. But the horse I look at to take this is Michael Dods’ Dakota Gold. A beaten favourite last time out behind Muscika, he has a 9lb pull on that animal here, he had previously been runner up to Gunmetal at Ripon and if reproducing the form of these last two races, he has the ability to take this contest.
Finally we come to the William Hill St Leger Stakes at 3.35, a race apparently forgotten by most British trainers. Aidan O’Brien has no less than 7 of the declared 16 runnners and it is always a guessing game to see which ones he runs. He has the favourite for the contest in Kew Gardens who was beaten by Old Persian in the Great Voltiger last time, however he had a 5lb penalty that day but had The Pentagon, Nelson and Zabriskie behind him. Prior to that he had two very good victories at Longchamp and Ascot. Old Persian ran badly at The Curragh in the Irish Derby but before that he had won three of his past four then bounced back at York making him four wins from six for the season. Lah Ti Dah has a perfect record of three from three and John Gosden can do little wrong. After her latest victory at York, Dettori was adamant the filly could have gone another 3 furlongs. She is still fresh as she had the summer off due to illness and this is her only chance to grab a classic, Gosden intimated after her Oaks Trial win in May she likes a little cut in the ground and she will get that here at Town Moor. I will also mention Maid Up who can go well at a big price, a course winner she ran really well last time at Goodwood beating Ben Vrackie over today’s distance. She seems to be coming into a rich vein of form at the right time and can run into a place at a big price.
Saturday Lucky 15
2.05. Chester. Kuiper Belt
2.40. Chester. Sir Chauvelin
1.50. Doncaster. Dakota Gold
3.35. Doncaster. Lah Ti Dah
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