Good morning all,
The final classic of the season takes place at Doncaster today, the St Leger. Is it me or does it feel like the season only started ten minutes ago, and yet here we are, the last of the big races already?
It’s also one of my favourite handicaps of the year today, The Portland. It’s race that’s been fairly kind to me over the years and I’m hoping to continue that with Arecibo, who I’ve already backed at a bigger price than it is this evening. My thoughts on that race and a couple of others on today’s main piece.
2.25 – Portland Handicap 5½f
The intermediate distance of this race seems to suit certain horses, and it can’t be a surprise that horses that run well in the race often come back and run well in it again.
Amomentofmadness heads up that stat – 6th in 2017, winner in 2018 and second last year, and given he’s 4lb lower than that second to Oxted in last year’s renewal, you’d have to say he’s got every chance of hitting the frame again, at worst, from what might be a decent draw up the middle. If I have a slight query it’s that William Buick, who seems to get on so well with him, won’t be on board, and Dane O’Neill will be riding for the first time, but it isn’t as if he’s a tricky ride – far from it, he’s very much a point-and-shoot ride, but all the same, it would have made the case for him stronger if Buick was on board.
Arecibo is my main pick for this. He was back in fourth last year but might not have been best drawn in stall 2 (first three all came from middle/high) but that’s not the case this year, from stall 14 he gets a great chance to track the pace without having to do a lot to get a prominent position. His record at 5½f reads 143344 and although it’s a slight concern that he’s not won for David O’Meara yet and is clearly tricky to catch right, I don’t think that’s anything to do with his attitude, and a big handicap will surely fall his way soon. The return of cheekpieces is quite interesting too – he normally wears a visor but they swapped those for blinkers in this race last year as a one-off. Here’s hoping they do the trick.
Of the rest, my old friend Konchek finally came good at Salisbury last time and he’s finding his juvenile form again, but stall 1 looks a real negative on what we’ve seen this week. Justanotherbottle is on a good mark on the best of his form (including a third in this a couple of years ago) but looked below par at York last time and now cheekpieces are tried, and last year’s fifth Wentworth Falls likes Doncaster and is well drawn too. Soldiers Minute has a favourite’s chance but I’m happy to have Arecibo and Amomentofmadness as my pair. I realise that’s two at the head of the market, which isn’t my normal way of playing it, but I don’t fancy many of those at bigger prices.
3.35 – St Leger (1m6f)
In terms of having a bet, I was struggling to find something that might be overpriced, but if we’re having Pyledriver at 11-4 then I’ll chance my arm with Mohican Heights at 20s, given there was only 4l between the pair on their King Edward VII running and from where he was 2f out, Mohican Heights really wasn’t given much of a chance to win that. He stayed on stoutly from that point and finished off well, as you might expect given his pedigree (he’s a half-brother to the yard’s good stayer Curbyourenthusiasm, who I’m sure a few of you will remember) and then underperformed in the Derby, I’m happy to put a line through that run, given the way the race simply didn't pan out for many.
Also worth remembering he beat Subjectivist fair and square as a 2yo and as much as that one has improved this year, Mohican Heights hasn’t really been given the chance to show that he’s not. I think this long run for home will suit him better than Ascot, and I expect him to get a lot closer to Pyledriver this time around under a patient Jamie Spencer ride.
Away from Doncaster, I’ve backed Mutarabby (each-way 4 places, Hills) in the 4.50 at Chester. On his debut for Godolphin in the November of 2016, he was a neck behind Stradivarius and whilst it would be entirely fair to say their careers went different ways from that point, I did like Mutarabby a lot as a 3yo, having seen him in the flesh at Leicester on his seasonal reappearance. His season never really took off as I imagined it would but he ran with credit on numerous occasions before Godolphin sold him on to France, where he continued to run well, in the main. He really caught the eye at Windsor last time out, having been bought by John Butler, finishing off well over a mile and this step back up to 10f will help his cause. A mark of 79 looks more than workable and in the hope the gaps come at the right time, he’s worth a bet.
Todday's selection – Mohican Heights (e/w) 3.35 Doncaster
Good luck with all your bets today,