A fascinating day of racing on Saturday. Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) has studied the form and given us his view.
15:10 Doncaster | Channel 4
A seven furlong Group 2 with 14 runners are generally competitive affairs but I’m not sure this is. The older horses here are looking fully exposed and I think the three year olds will have this between themselves.
Limato looks like he will appreciate the step up in trip and if the ground stays quick he’s the one to beat here. His run in the Commonwealth Cup now looks better and better as the season goes on, and Henry Candy’s patient approach with him can be rewarded. However if the rain comes I’d be prepared to take him on with Home of the Brave.
Home of the Brave never quite got home in the Guineas and wasn’t quite quick enough for the Commonwealth Cup but he showed in Ireland that he is a seven furlong specialist, and with no doubts over the ground for him I see him as a much more solid betting proposition than his main rival here. The race he won in Ireland has worked out quite well and I’d be amazed if he is out of the places here.
If Ivawood lines up he has a squeak too but I think the other two three year olds in the field have a more progressive profile and only a return to his very best here would be good enough. I’m backing Home of the Brave each way and if the ground stays good I’m backing the reverse forecast with Limato also.
15:45 Doncaster | Channel 4
The last Classic of the season, the St Leger, is here and it’s attracted a small field. It looks like it’s between the first three in the market and I’d be surprised if the winner was a big price.
Storm the Stars has had a fantastic season running into the places in both the English and Irish Derby’s before finally getting his head in front in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York. That’s the main trial for the St Leger and he comes here as the most likely winner. However he is the most exposed horse out of the first three in the betting and we also know the other two will stay the extended trip so I’m prepared to take him on here.
This leaves us the Ballydoyle pair or Fields of Athenry and Bondi Beach. Bondi Beach was second to Storm the Stars last time out and was slightly hampered late on by the winner. Though that didn’t effect the result there he looked to me like he would have won the race if it had lasted another furlong. He has an extra two furlongs here and I expect him to turn the tables.
Fields of Athenry took on his elders in the Betfred Ebor and in the circumstances ran a huge race. Drawn wide and slowly away he done a lot of work early on and done well to finish as close as he did. The smaller field here will make it easy for him to dominate and I think the booking of Silvestre De Souza is a masterstroke here. A fantastic jockey from the front I expect Fields of Athenry to dominate this from the off and in my opinion he will be very hard to beat. I’m backing him to win and also in a reverse forecast with his stablemate.
17:45 Leopardstown | At The Races
At the time of writing this we are on course for the race of the season here in the Irish Champion Stakes, in fact this would be regarded as one of the best races of my lifetime. A dual Guineas winner, against the Derby and Eclipse winner is good enough, but throw in the Prince of Wales Stakes winner, the winner of this race last season, a seven time Group 1 winner and three further Group 1 winners from the Classic generation and you have a hell of a race on your hands.
It shows you the class of this race and the strength of the Classic generation that I am prepared to write off the older horses here but I can’t see the winner giving weight to their younger rivals. This however doesn’t make our job any easier as all five of the three year olds are genuine Group 1 horses and a victory for them wouldn’t overly surprise.
However Pleascach has been unpredictable and I am prepared to oppose her again (though I love her) and even though Highland Reel is starting to show the form he promised as a juvenile I think he’s another that will be playing for places. This leaves us three.
Golden Horn looked like something special in the Derby and followed up with a victory in the Eclipse. Though visually less impressive that day he showed himself the best horse in the UK over 10 or 12 furlongs. However he was surprisingly beaten at York on softer ground, and he lost some of his invincibility. Though he has the best form on offer at the moment he’s no longer bomb proof and I’m not backing him here.
I love Gleneagles. I adore him. He is one hell of a horse and has gone from strength to strength throughout his career. However to see the very best of him you need to have quick ground, and there are serious doubts about him getting this.
If somehow the weather gods decide that like me they want to see the race of the decade run on quick ground that the majority of the field would enjoy then he’s my selection. I believe he would have too much speed for these on quick ground, but the rain is coming and I can’t back him, in fact I don’t think he will run.
The one I like here is Found. Ok so he has the least impressive form on offer of all her rivals, but I am actually very confident. She was backwards at the beginning of the season and missed the 1000 Guineas and wasn’t fully wound up early in the season, but Aidan O’Brien likes his fillies to improve over time and she remains a filly of immense potential.
She likes a bit of cut in the ground and had been screaming out for extra distance all season. When she tried 10 furlongs she was a facile winner of a lesser race, and as I said earlier she is far better than she has been able to show us so far and I think she is the horse to keep onside in this race. I actually fancy her to win the Arc this season, so I stand to look like a fool if this doesn’t go to plan. I’m backing here each way in a race I cannot wait to see.
15:10 Doncaster – Home Of The Brave each way (5/1 Bet365)
15:45 Doncaster – Fields Of Athenry to win (9/2 Ladbrokes)
15:45 Doncaster – Fields Of Athenry/Bondi Beach Reverse Forecast
17:45 Leopardstown – Found each way (8/1 Betway)
Saturday is a massive day for horse racing with the Irish Champion Stakes and St Leger taking place.
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