St Leger Preview

The St Leger is moving swiftly onto the horizon and despite the absence of previous ante-post favourite, Cracksman, it still looks set to be a great race.

A ‘typical Sir Michael Stoute improver’ is a phrase often used by people previewing horse racing betting tips and0 they’ll be pleased to see Crystal Ocean currently head the market.


After being somewhat of a hype horse before the Dante and Derby, he put in a performance of the highest calibre when routing the field at Goodwood last time out.


He holds obvious claims but the value could lie with Joseph O’Brien’s Rekindling.


He was somewhat of a surprise (16/1) winner of a hot looking Ballysax Stakes (Irish Derby winner Capri back in fourth) before failing to handle the York track when fourth in the Dante.

He was only two lengths behind Crystal Ocean that day despite hating conditions, so he is sure to be of interest on a seemingly straightforward Doncaster track.

Quirks were on display as he didn’t go a yard on the undulations of Epsom but he bounced back with two outstanding runs.

Stamina appeared to be his forte when striking late to nail the high class Wicklow Brave, while getting witching five lengths of former Ascot Gold Cup winner Order Of St George last time out was arguably his best run to date, against elders.


That was in the Irish St Leger and although he’s entered up in a host of group one’s over the next few months, the St Leger looks the long term target.

Capri, who Rekindling managed to get the better of over in Ireland, is joint favourite after his Irish Derby success but the price disparity seems too big to ignore

At 12/1 (20’s on the Exchange) he is worth a small each way bet.

While looking ahead, he could be very well treated for a potential tilt at the Melbourne Cup. He’s currently 75/1 on the machine (50s readily available elsewhere) and this might be worth a very small saver in case that is the way the O’Brien clan decide to head.


0.75pt ew – Rekindling (St Leger) @ 12/1

0.25pt win – Rekindling (Melbourne Cup) @ 76.0+

Eminent Can Land Irish Champion Blow

Ante-post racing is somewhat dying, with seemingly very little value in long-term markets.

However, there can be times when an ante-post bet looks of interest, with particular attention on fields that are likely to cut up. With this in mind, we can take a look at the Irish Champion Stakes, where Churchill is likely to be warm order following a solid showing in the Juddmonte International.

He stayed on well down the York straight, edging out Barney Roy for second spot, with the pair seen off by Ulysses, who took advantage by sitting off a very strong early pace. This answered stamina doubts over Churchill and it looks a solid opportunity for Aidan O’Brien’s duel Guineas winner to get some black type over 10 furlongs.

However, when there is a strong O’Brien-trained favourite, races tend to cut up. Winter and Rhododendron are in behind but would either turn up if the fav takes his place? It has to be unlikely, with America potentially on the agenda and races over 12f that look likelier to suit.

Highland Reel could turn up before a crack at the Arc and Ulysses (current second fav) is likely to head to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

So, could Eminent, who is almost a guaranteed runner, be sublime value at 12/1? Quite possibly.

Martyn Meade’s stable star looked destined for big things when cosily landing the Craven before running a big race when fifth in the 2000 Guineas, despite racing keenly. A solid run in the Derby when fourth, again pulling slightly, was a positive and it alleviated doubts over stamina.

By Frankel, he seems suited to the 10f trip and this was seen to full effect in a group two at Deauville last time out. Under an enterprising Ryan Moore ride, he made every yard, showing a nice change of pace to pull clear and this was a serious, serious performance.

It’s not inconceivable that the race will cut up to five or six runners, with perhaps a pacemaker from the O’Brien yard.

This means with three places on offer, Eminent looks worth significant each way interest at 12/1 and he could be a lot shorter come the day.


2pts each way – Eminent (Irish Champion) @ 12/1 (1/5 1-2-3)

Put Your Faith In The Angel At Ascot

Caravaggio is sure to be top of many ‘banker’ lists ahead of Friday at Royal Ascot, yet it may pay to look elsewhere.

There’s no doubting his class and Aidan could hardly be more bullish about his chances, after a pleasing reappearance.

However, the same could be said about Harry Angel. He’s been heavily backed every time he’s set foot on the course, which suggests he obviously shows something at home, and his last performance was simply jaw-dropping.

He pulled hard when being just touched off by the reappearing Blue Point (giving him four pounds) on his seasonal reappearance and it would be no surprised to see the form reversed.

Godolphin now own the pair, after forking out a hefty some following Harry’s last visit to the track. He made all at Haydock, never seeing another rival, moving readily clear of Second Thought and Mubtasim, who since ran a stormer to finish third in the Jersey.

Harry’s Angel is a horse on the upgrade and at 7/2, he looks worth a small interest.


1pt win: Harry’s Angel (Commonwealth Cup) @ 7/2

Magic Mori Can Turn Heads At Ascot

We’ve enjoyed a solid start to Ascot and hopefully this will continue across the next three days.

Thursday sees the Ascot Gold Cup take centre stage and given Aidan O’Brien’s misfortune so far this week (gutsy Highland Reel apart), there has to be a slight concern about steaming into Order Of St George.

It looks a fairly messy race and this means I’ll be leaving it well alone but will be hoping for a Big Orange win.

The one and only punt for Thursday comes in the Ribblesdale, in the shape of Mori.

She finished a respectable fifth on debut at Newbury – after going off favourite – and she showed the benefit of the run, winning smartly at Ascot next time out.

She was punted off the boards before her cosy Listed win and she has the scope to progress even further.

She’s a Frankel filly out of Midday, so big things were always going to be expected. Good ground is ideal and she looks an attractive proposition stepping up in trip against the AOB-trained fav, who finished third in the Oaks last time.


1.5pt win: Mori (Ribblesdale) &@ 10/3

Enjoy The VIP Treatment At Royal Ascot

Wednesday brings a host of interesting races to get stuck into, with the best punting race of the day sure to be the Royal Hunt Cup.

A cavalry charge down the straight mile at Ascot often bring about thrills and spills and you’re sure to hear many a hard luck story on Twitter come Wednesday evening.

Given a mention of hard luck story, the selection does come with somewhat of a warning. Frankie Dettori is very much a ‘marmite’ jockey. You either love him or you hate him – usually dependant on how well he’s timed his ride.

On his day, there are very few better judges of pace and this will be a necessity with EL VIP in the Hunt Cup. Jamie Spencer is on Banksea in the big race, meaning Dettori will be needed to produce the colt on the final furlong, similar to his last performance at Newcastle.

Dettori has only ridden the 4yo twice in seven runs, which is somewhat of a surprise given he’s number one rider for the owner, and both of those returned rather lacklustre efforts at Haydock.

However, his early campaigns over a longer trip didn’t quite go to plan and he was certainly in need of the run at the Merseyside track earlier this year.

He looked a different horse all together come Newcastle recently. He was strong in the betting, travelled ominously well and when the gap came late, he shot through and won well going away.

This effort suggested he would relish the straight Ascot track and being buried behind a wall of horses. He’s obviously a risk factor, given he will need luck to get his run, yet there’s no doubt there’s plenty more to come from the son of Pivotal and at 14/1, he looks worth a second glance, especially given Afjaan no longer runs for the same owners.

Elsewhere on day two, LE BRIVIDO is of huge interest in the Jersey Stakes. Dream Castle looks sure to be suited over this slightly shorter trip, after somewhat disappointing in the Guineas. However, there have to be questions about his willingness to battle it out, should it come to it, following his displays at the tail end of his last two races.

Daban should frank the Winter form by running her race but the French raider stands out on his three runs thus far. A cosy debut win was followed up with a battling performance over six, next time out, suggesting speed won’t be an issue over the seven.

He then ran a huge race in the French 2000 Guineas, only just being beaten by Brametot, who followed up with a French Derby win and is currently second favourite for the Arc. That short-head second, finishing three lengths ahead of Rivet and Orderofthegarter was a solid bit of form and with so much pace in the race, the fact that he definitely gets a mile, will play into his hands over the seven at Ascot.

He will be able to track Dream Castle and when push comes to shove, Le Brivido can repay Andre Fabre’s faith at a nice price.

1pt EW: El VIP (Hunt Cup) @ 14/1

2pts Win: El Brivido (Jersey) @ 4/1

Get off to a Blessed start at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot begins on Tuesday, kick-starting five days of pomp, pleasantry and punting.

Ribchester & Churchill are the two hotpots on day one and although they both look rock-solid favourites. However 5/6 and 8/11 shots are not for everyone, so the other races could be where the value lies.

The King’s Stand Stakes is the meat in the Sandwich of the Queen Anne (Sky Bet offer is superb, yet again) and the St James’s Palace Stakes, so it’s sure to be a proper betting race, with punters (and bookies) looking for salvation amidst the odds-on shots.

Lady Aurelia heads the market and after apparently impressing Ryan Moore in a piece of work earlier last week, the money has come again, forcing her into a best price of 3/1. Her latest victory was not too impressive on the bare bones but there is sure to be more to come and it is hard to forget her previous victory at the track.

Marsha’s latest victory at Newmarket, giving weight away, was a monstrous effort, which suggests she is certainly a Group One filly. However, it is the next horse in the market that looks to be worth a chance.

SIGNS OF BLESSING was relatively unfancied when he arrived from France for the Diamond Jubilee, going off 25/1 before only just getting reeled in, in the shadow of the posts, eventually finishing a neck and short-head back in third.

After winning a Group One at Deauville, he returned to run a monster at Ascot in the Champion Sprint Stakes, finishing a close fourth after getting caught late. He gave Profitable almost a stone and a two length beating on his final start, which was simply jaw-dropping and the only real negative could be the ground

His best work has come on Soft but the Ascot clerk is sure to water in an attempt to get any firm out of the ground. Freshly watered, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue and it’s hard to see him not running a huge race.

He’s drawn just five stalls away from Lady Aurelia, so it will be an interesting tactical battle for the lead but it’s hard to see him out of the placings and there are sure to be extra place offerings on the day,

Elsewhere on day one, it could pay to side with ENDLESS ACRES at a big price. Thomas Hobson is sure to prove popular for the majestic combination of Moore and Mullins, yet Charlie Fellowes’ horse could be worth a second glance.

He missed the Chester Cup and ended up bumping into a well-backed Mark Prescott horse at Newmarket, finishing a fair second, with the pair well clear of the field. This will have put him spot on for Ascot, which will have been the long-term goal and at 20/1, the lightly raced son of Champs Elysees is worth a small interest.

1pt EW: Signs Of Blessing (King’s Stand) @ 7/1

1pt EW: Endless Acres (Ascot Stakes) @ 25/1

Five To Follow On The Flat – 2017

The flat season got underway at Doncaster last Saturday and as has become customary, we’re going to take a look at five horses to follow on the level.

There won’t be appearances from the obvious elite, such as Churchill or Caravaggio from the Aidan O’Brien camp, though hopefully we’ll still find a few winners.

SIR DANCEALOT (3yo colt – D R Elsworth)

Finishing ninth in an average Windsor maiden at 33/1 was a rather inauspicious start Sir Dancealot’s career.

However he has gone from strength to strength and developed into an animal of huge potential.

There was plenty of smart money for the colt on his second start and he duly obliged, showing a nice turn of foot to score impressively at Kempton.

He followed up in a Conditions race at the same venue comfortably seeing off four decent rivals despite being keen.

Questions were raised about whether or not he would be able to transfer that form onto the turf and those were in answered in some style, with a huge run at HQ.

This time he was held up towards the rear before making smooth headway under soon-to-be champion jockey, Jim Crowley. He didn’t show a turn of foot and flattened out into a very close third behind two very useful animals.

The fourth horse has subsequently won a Group Three in style, which franked the form well.

Sir Dancealot stayed on well to land a Listed race over 6f on his next start, handling the drop back in trip well, before finishing a one paced fifth in the Racing Post Trophy.

This day he moved nicely but couldn’t really sustain the effort, so it will interesting to see how he is campaigned.

A break will have seen him strengthen so he will be of interest stepped back up to a mile (his dam was a daughter of Danehill Dancer) but he has the potential to make his presence felt should he stick to 6f/7f.

CORONET (3yo filly – J Gosden)

This one may not have crept under the radar of many but she still ranks as one of the most exciting fillies’ in training.

Coronet was well supported on debut and still managed to land the spoils despite running very green.

She ran on strongly to pick it up before idling in front. It didn’t look overly impressive but it left the impression there was plenty more to come.

She was brought back for the Listed Zetland Stakes at Newmarket, where she maintained her unbeaten record, grinding past a race-hardened rival, who was rated 92.

This was a lot more eye-catching as she was steadied towards the start before making steady headway over two furlongs out. Despite being bumped, she picked up smartly to win by a neck.

It was a big effort considering it was just her second start and she is bred to appreciate a trip. She looks a nice filly for the Oaks and could be one to keep an eye one ahead of all the top 10f-12f fillies races this season.


A long term plot is something that gets plenty of punters excited and with this in mind, Master Blueyes makes the list.

Alan King’s grey made a rather inauspicious start to life on the level as a 2yo before seemingly strengthening up the following year.

He scored at York (this will come to be important) on his first start as a 3yo, staying on best of all over 12f, before following up by the narrowest of margins at Chester.

The rest of the season was spent hitting the crossbar in staying races around the country, including two more nice runs on the Knavesmire.

He finished fifth in the Melrose Stakes before he was punted off the boards when he returned to the track in October. He went off fav and was mighty close to landing the gamble, only just going down by a head from Calvinist.

This was off a mark of 84 and this was his last start on the flat. He was stuffed on his debut over hurdles (listed race at Wetherby), though a mistake at the first may have been enough to dent his confidence that day.

His next four runs seen him finish second to the highly rated Charli Parcs, a neck second to the very talented Divin Bere and two wide-margin wins, including a Grade 2 at Kempton.

He was slightly taken off his feet when going off well fancied for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, though he is much better than his tenth place finish.

Tiredness set in when a mistake at the last ended hopes of a better final position. Still, it was a superb run of efforts and best of all, his mark on the flat now looks very attractive.

He looks tailor-made for a crack at the Ebor and although he won’t be under the radar for long, it could be long enough to get a nice price for August at York, which could be the plan.

NAGGERS (6yo – P Midgely)

This is the first (and last) of the five runners that have already appeared this season, yet that run should give even more hope that he’s one to follow.

Midgely does very well with a select group of sprinters and it looks as though Naggers is progressing with age.

After almost a year off the track, he managed to claim three wins in just six starts last season, culminating in a battling victory at Ayr.

He snuck in off a nice mark of 84 in a competitive handicap at Doncaster on the second day of the Lincoln meeting, shaping very nicely indeed.

Positioned towards the rear by Paul Mulrennan, the 6yo sliced between runners with his rider motionless.

After meeting slight trouble in running, he picked up smartly when asked a question, running on well to finish a fairly unlucky fourth.

He has form on ground racing from good to soft, so there is no qualms with conditions. He looks as though he could have a nice prize in him and a return to Ayr later in the season wouldn’t be a massive surprise.

SOUTH SEAS (3yo A Balding)

Finally, we round off the five to follow with a very talented three-year-old.

The Colt left quite an impression when obliterating the field in a solid Windsor maiden before following up the victory at Haydock.

Despite a slow start, he landed the Group 3 Solario Stakes with the minimum of fuss, hitting the line hard to suggest a step up to a mile will benefit in time.

He looked to have every chance of causing a slight upset in the Dewhurst, travelling strongly into the race but he was taken slightly off his feet in the end, failing to see it out in such a competitive race.

His final assignment of the season seen him travel to Saint Cloud (a sign of the esteem in which he is held at home) where he ran very well on softer than ideal ground.

Thunder Snow was the only horse to get the better of him that day and he has subsequently gone on to land the UAE Derby.

South Seas looks to have plenty of potential to progress as a three year old and it would be no surprise to see him land more group success this season. He’s currently 40/1 for the 2000 Guineas, which seems fair.

Definitly Red Can Land Grand National Glory

The Grand National is a race that drags people into the racing whirlwind for ten adrenaline-pumping minutes, once a year.

The once-a-year punters that pick names, colours or maybe their lucky number, are all glued to the television screen as forty horses descend across 30 obstacles on Merseyside.

As always, it looks like a very difficult race to dissect, with so many different variables to take into account. Ground, stamina, course form, ability to jump a fence, weight… and of course, luck.

For the 2017 renewal, we’ll be taking a chance on Definitly Red. It’s not the most fashionable choice, given his place towards the head of the market but he looks as solid a selection as you will find.

He’s only ever been out of the first three once if he’s completed (appreciate that could be a big IF at Aintree) and that was in the Champion Bumper back in 2014. Since then he has gone from strength to strength and he boasts a plethora of really strong form in the book.

After a nice start to the season, he snatched the headlines when running away with a competitive looking Rowland Meyrick Chase, beating Wakanda and Blaklion with ease. He was never going to trouble to runaway winner on his next start at Haydock, where he was hampered and unseated his rider three out.

This could have dented his confidence, so it was pleasing to see him no ill effects as he put in his biggest performance to date last time out. He showed he enjoyed a stamina test, as he bounded clear over 3m 2f last time, putting clear distance between himself and the field.

He was getting 12lb off The Last Samuri, last year’s Grand National runner-up and again at Aintree, he receives the same amount. He’s 10lb well in on figures and although the lack of experience over the Aintree fences is a negative, trainer Brian Ellison has given glowing reports after the horse schooled over similar style obstacles.

Ellison appears very bullish and with the current good ground, which could be a major positive for the horse, the 12/1 looks a fair bet.

Selection: Definitly Red (Grand National) @ 12/1 (Various)

Yorkhill Sparks Excitement

Willie Mullins was left in a peculiar position, as we entered day three of the Cheltenham Festival.

Having been accustomed to ‘Ruby Tuesday’s’, where the grey-haired maestro would guide home many of Mullins’ machines to get punters off to a flyer, we were left open-mouthed as the pair drew blanks.

After 14 races, Mullins had no winners. Was this real life?

Rumours that all was not well in the Mullins yard began to surface and subsequently, his Thursday runners started the day rather week in the market.

Yorkhill, many peoples idea of a Festival NAP went from 11/10 to 6/4 on the day, though this in truth may well have been down to the horse in question, not the trainer.

No one can question Yorkhill’s engine, he is racings equivalent of a Porsche. Sharp, goes through the gears smoothly and often looks a million dollars. However, the horse has his quirks.

At Aintree last season, Paul Townend has his arms all but yanked out of their sockets for a large part of the race before the Graham Wylie-owned charge someone managed to reserve enough energy to scramble home.

It was here you realised just what he was capable of and it was arguably more eye opening than his Neptune victory, where he shattered the heart of the flamboyant Yanworth.

Yorkhill’s jumping career was solid but not spectacular. He jumped out to his left at times but no jockey had needed to get to the bottom of him.l in his two starts over fences pre-Cheltenham.

His performance at Leopardstown led to people to ask whether it was best for him to be out in front for so long, as he seemed to idle up the run in, having previously moved nicely clear.

This, coupled with an error-strewn opening to Yorkhill’s final public schooling session meant there were still plenty of questions to answer at Prestbury Park.

And answer he did. In some style.

He travelled powerfully for Ruby Walsh, having been buried towards the rear, a position in which he seemed thrive.

Moving through the race, he jumped impeccably, grew in confidence and approaching two out, he found himself with a dream run up the inside.

It was here you realised just what he was capable of and it was arguably more eye opening than his Neptune victory, where he shattered the heart of the flamboyant Yanworth.

Yorkhill’s jumping career was solid but not spectacular. He jumped out to his left at times but no jockey had needed to get to the bottom of him.l in his two starts over fences pre-Cheltenham.

His performance at Leopardstown led to people to ask whether it was best for him to be out in front for so long, as he seemed to idle up the run in, having previously moved nicely clear.

This, coupled with an error-strewn opening to Yorkhill’s final public schooling session meant there were still plenty of questions to answer at Prestbury Park.

And answer he did. In some style.

He travelled powerfully for Ruby Walsh, having been buried towards the rear, a position in which he seemed thrive.

Moving through the race, he jumped impeccably, grew in confidence and approaching two out, he found himself with a dream run up the inside.

He moved stylishly to draw alongside Top Notch, who was also moving well.

Yorkhill winged the second last and moved powerfully away. Top Notch hit the top of it and although he rallied well, he failed to ever get back alongside Yorkhill, as Mullins’ charge fought well to claim the JLT, meaning wins at back-to-back festivals.

Again, he didn’t do too much in front and idled slightly towards the line but the manner in which he took himself to the front, was eye catching.

His only defeat came at Punchestown, which arrived just two weeks after a tough race at Aintree.

Given a nice break between the races, he looks a machine and excitement is high ahead of next season.

He is versatile and has plenty of options available to him, which obviously isn’t ideal from an ante-post point of view but given the esteem in which he is held, you have to fancy he will be given a chance at the big one.

Although all the initial fancy prices have since disappeared, the 8/1 looks fair value and it would be no surprise to see him develop into an elite chaser.

Selection: Yorkhill to win the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup @ 8/1 (Various)

Blaklion Can Go Well In Hennessy

The Hennessy Gold Cup is often the most eagerly anticipated National Hunt race outside of Cheltenham for many purists and this season’s renewal looks set to be a thriller.

Native River heads the betting after following up his Cheltenham runner-up effort with a superb performance at Aintree. His reappearance behind Silsol at Wetherby on his return was a cracking effort over the smaller obstacles and that should see him spot on for Saturday.

Will he give Colin Tizzard another big Saturday winner after Cue Card’s tremendous effort last week? Possibly, but we’ll be cheering for a different result. Sorry, Colin.

A horse that Native River got the better of at Aintree, Blaklion, is a horse who can’t be ignore and he should also arrive in full fitness.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 7-y-o ran a nice enough race in the Charlie Hall, travelling strongly until fading in the home straight. He looked as though he was in need of the run but moved nicely and jumped well on ground that was less than ideal.

He has ran extremely well with plenty of cut in the ground, with a wide-margin win at Wetherby in February (with Native River 18l back in third) and a solid effort behind the classy Seeyouatmidnight in the Dipper suggested he may appreciate Saturday’s likely surface.

He put in a huge effort at Aintree, when third behind Native River, given how hard a race he had when outbattling Shaneshill to win the RSA at Cheltenham. He left little behind that day and he showed tremendous class to go as close as he did on Merseyside.

After a nice break, his Wetherby effort was enough to suggest he has retained plenty of ability, with the 3m 2f trip around soft ground on Newbury looking ideal. He will be allowed to gallop on in behind Smad Place and he can showcase his lovely jumping and strong-travelling characteristics.

At a current 10/1, he looks a solid each-way bet, especially with a number of firms offering five and in some cases, six places.


1pt e.w (Hennessy Gold Cup): Blaklion @ 10/1 (various, Paddy Power and Sky Bet paying 5 and 6 places).