Good morning from the Major who has been at the good coffee early to study the card and bring you the winner of the St Leger.
The last classic of the season is a true stayers test and unlike any other classic is open to both colts and fillies. This gives us the interesting task of assessing Blue Buntings ability against the boys, more of that in a moment.
The Major would like to land a catastrophic blow on the enemy today, let us land the perfect left right pincer movement.
We shall be decisive like Sir Robert Napiers expeditionary force of Irish, British and Indian troops in Abysinnia or Sir Hope Grants mixed British, Indian and French force which went to Peking to force the emporer to sign our trade treaty in the second Opium war. Well disciplined, well executed. Sir Hope Grant took the forts at the river head with a perfect pincer movement, infantry skirmishing ahead of his position and as the enemy approaches, the flags go up and the lights will come out like a mighty fist to run the enemy down, the heavies follow to finish the job. Swift and decisive against a far numerically superior force.
Sir Hope got to Peking and got the treaty signed but had to fight his way there. There was also subsequent outrage as the Chinese tortured to death many of the small numbers of prisoners of war they held. British and Indian troops of the Queen as well as Parkes and Loch, two envoys, were given horrendous treatment in the ‘Board of Punishment’. Their bodies were returned after peace had been negotiated which seemed a deliberate act of subterfuge.
Lord Elgin who travelled as the lead political on the embassy decided that retribution would take the form of the sacking of the Summer Palace.
It took thousands of troops to destroy the greatest collection or architecture and art ever amassed. While he was merely a descendent of the Elgin who lifted marbles from Greece, the family certainly had their vandal moments!
Lets start our own rout with the St Leger.
3.10 Doncaster St Leger
The St Leger has lost some of its lustre in recent years. Gone are the horses who want triple crown glory. Now bloodstock demand is for mile to mile and a half horses. The super rich owners want Derby horses and Arc horses, not Yorkshire Cup types.
It would have been a thing of great beauty if Sea the Stars had opted to take in the Triple Crown in his classic year…. alas, Guinea and Derby horses tend not to think St Leger any more. Perhaps we will never have another triple crown winner. If we were to, I would suggest it would be a filly.
In fact, recent St Legers have been pretty poor affairs (relatively speaking for a Group 1 and a classic!) – This year looks different though. What makes the contest an intriguing one is the ground which has hardened up and with no more rain expected until ten past three, it is changing the shape of the market.
The principle victim of the top of the ground turf seems to be Sea Moon. A long term favourite for the race after demolishing a Great Voltigeur field by nearly ten lengths, this lightly raced sort is clearly happier with cut. His form could suggest so and so does the reaction of connections to the dry weather forecast.
The Great Voltigeur also featured Seville who was third, vanquished by Sea Moon that day. Seville was second in an Irish Derby and so a serious O’Brien horse but was likely unsuited by York – This makes me question the form of the Great Voltigeur and seek a different form line for the winner. That said, O’Briens horses look like they are coming to their own of late.
We have Blue Bunting, a 2,000 guineas winner, Irish Oaks winner and Yorkshire Oaks winner – Probably filly of the season. She gets a 3lb pull on account of her being of the fairer sex and must be reckoned with at a best priced 7/2. Good to firm would be no inconvenience. Two of the last five runnings have gone to Godolphin, significantly interesting.
A regular poster Michael put up Masked Marvel last week and you can see the good points. Beating Census was great form although watching that race, I would question whether he is the better horse. 9/1 is fair but not for the Major – Good luck Michael.
Brown Panthers form is tied into Census and Masked Marvel and at 14s is arguably the best value of that trio. Yard form is also a slight concern here with just the one winner from the last twenty five runners. While Census may have taken Brown Panther on their latest run, it was notable that the Panther had a lot of picking up to do. The previous German raid did not go brilliantly but the travel may have been a factor. With Fallon booked, this is a serious contender in my view.
I really think the winner will come from Sea Moon, Brown Panther and Blue Bunting. Splitting them is tough. Sea Moon on the drift is a concern but how sure can we be he will not act on firmer ground? The Sire, Beat Hollow, has had 355 of his progeny run in Britain on good to firm and 50 won. This is not out of line with his form with more cut and so the evidence is conjecture on behalf of connections. Now, connections know their stuff but….. could we go where others dare tread?
Sea Moon is a horse that looked a true star. What he did to the Great Voltigeur field was highly impressive, not just the beaten foe but the turn of foot. He was eased down at the finish that day and the Major has a simple belief, if he shows the Great Voltigeur form today, he will win. It is hard to leave him but those ground worries are ominous.
I have settled on Brown Panther. 14/1 is a good price for one whose form is mixing it up with the best here. We have the services of Fallon doing the steering – Come on the Panther.
3.15 The Curragh – Goffs National Stakes Group 1
The Curragh hosts the Irish St Leger card and although it is a fine race, I fancied a crack at the Goffs Stakes for juveniles.
Soft conditions in Ireland make it interesting working through this card and the Majors choice is Dragon Pulse a 11/4 joint favourite.
Dragon Pulse on breeding is fancied to handle the soft and did win a maiden in conditions too. While Power, is the main rival, I suspect he will not like the cut in the ground at all.
Have a chunky slice of the Dragon.
There are other great races at Doncaster, the Curragh, Goodwood and Chester. The Major does think Berling is the most reliable in Chesters listed race but overall I am going to stick with Brown Panther and Dragon Pulse to bring home the weekend beans.
In other sports…. Villa are a massive 3/1 to win at Everton, given the Toffees current woes, it could well effect the team on the pitch who are now without Arteta. Villa are organised if not spectacular and 3/1 (Victor Chandler) is a price to take on them stealing the goodies from Goodison. Everton have protesting fans as well as a shortage of options in the final third with Yakubu and Beckford joining Arteta on the outward transfer pile. The new boys may take time to settle in and I am willing to take a chunky slice of the Villa pie at a lovely 3/1.
May your dining this evening be punctuated by a fine string quartet and a magnificent lady of grace who steals the attention of any dining room. For all of her well-heeled manner, her thoughts will run the same way as the rest of them when good lobster and Sancerre have been devoured.
Courage and shuffle those cards….