It’s an excellent running of the St Leger and having spent an awful long time looking at it, I could quite easily have selected 6 or 7 horses with a fair bit of conviction.
Since he won at Goodwood, however, Crystal Ocean has been firmly in my sights for this and, for all connections have expressed reservations about the ground being too soft, there are suggestions in the form book that he can be perfectly effective on it.
After all, the ground at Goodwood certainly had plenty of cut in it after a wet week and he stretched well in the closing stages to beat a pretty solid, three-year-old yard stick, in Khalidi.
In an ordinary St. Leger, he’d be a confident selection – in this one, however, there are plenty of significant dangers.
You could make a pretty strong case that Capri is over-priced, given how far clear he is on official ratings. Coronet is a fascinating runner, given that Frankie Dettori has chosen her over Stradivarius – that in itself is probably indicative of his massive regard for the brilliant Enable, given that Coronet has seen Enable’s backside three times this season.
Defoe looked rock solid winning at Newbury – while I can’t say anything negative about him, it’s just my hunch that Crystal Ocean is open to the most improvement of any of these runners and has the make, shape and running style of a horse who should be fully effective over 1m6f at Doncaster.
In the Portland Handicap, my pin has landed on Vibrant Chords who has been running consistently all season and ran a really promising race at this track last time. The ground should be fine for him and I like Adam Kirby taking over on this horse.
It’s looked as though 5f is not enough, whilst 6f is probably too far, so 5.5f should be the ideal distance for him.
Of the others, I think the two that could run well are last year’s winner, Captain Colby, who is sitting on a nice mark again and the former Group One winner, Move In Time, who looks potentially dangerous off this handicap mark.
I’ll be a bit disappointed if Aclaim couldn’t come close to winning the Park Stakes. He’s up against two ultra-tough horses, in Breton Rock and Home Of The Brave, but rather as he did last year, he’s starting to bloom in the second part of the season and this, surely, is his ideal trip.
He ran a terrific race in France last time where he looked as though he was going to win the Maurice de Gheest until Brando appeared on the scene late on and this extra half a furlong should help.
I’ve got huge respect for Home Of The Brave who is likely to be a very hard horse to pass, but I’ve got a feeling there’s still some improvement to come from Aclaim and if that’s the case, then he should be pretty hard to beat.
In the Champagne Stakes I like Red Mist, with the King of Doncaster, Andrea Atzeni, in the saddle. Simon Crisford’s horses are starting to run a lot better than they were earlier in the season and this horse probably should have beaten Hey Gaman last time and should reverse that form here. He’s probably got the most to fear from Mythical Magic.
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