Good morning from the Major who writes from the Birmingham suburb of Yardley where an overcast heaven misleads. The air has a lightness, it will be a nice day.
This is the time of year for the Major. It is dark enough at night and in the morning for a man who sleeps lightly to rest properly. the sun does not burn at my fair Northern skin and my eyes relax more having to squint less against the bright light.
What a cracking day of racing too. Both the English and Irish St Leger meets (although two entirely different races) and Camelot bids very strongly to become the first triple crown winner the Major will have had the pleasure to witness.
Fair play to connections for taking this route. Doncaster races must be absolutely made over – The St Leger has lost a good deal of lustre over recent years. Watching Masked Marvel struggle yesterday, I wonder what impact this grueling affair can have on three year old horses. This might be why top owners have taken the best horses into other races, I do not know for sure.
What is certain is that the St Leger has lost some of the Group One class it is bestowed with. The arrival of unbeaten Camelot is a shot in the arm for the last of our classics.
John Dunlop announced retirement this week and what better way to mark your retirement announcement than to have the winner in the feature race on Friday, Times Up ran the trainer proud.
Plenty of accolades have been sprayed about regarding Mr Dunlop and the Major will not try to do what others know better. I will say something about patience though.
Last night, my father in law watched the Shawshank Redemption. Like many, it is a film he has seen quite a few times before and knowing the outcome adds to the enjoyment. The subtleties that transpire over a period of time are nurtured and grow.
What a different film it would be if the prison break had been effected over the course of a year., not through guile and perfection but through reaction and urgency? Where we buy into the aloof lead character is that without uttering a word, he spent half a lifetime achieving something in silence. A thing he was happy to carry on his soul alone.
The Major sadly is a product of the modern generation. I am used to having desires fulfilled here and now. Food is cheap and available and not something you grow. Purchases of aspiration come immediately, saving is something you do not need to do when you can acquire cheap credit, why wait… This is the lesson of the modern generation.
As someone whose hungers are avaricious and grasping, I think I am able to spot a patient man better than most and Mr Dunlop strikes me as such. The manner in which he built a training empire. The manner in which his main owner won the Gold Cup (his stated personal dream) the year before he died after decades of trying. The manner in which Mr Dunlop carries himself. Ah yes, I recognise what I do not exhibit.
Mr Dunlop leaves a racing legacy through his sons, again something deliberate which he created. Spoils of satisfaction are greater for those who built rather than bought. I imagine he is a content man and wish him all the best for retirement.
To the sports
Doncaster St Leger Tips
Camelot has brushed aside all opposition he has faced and is n better than 4/9 to complete his triple crown bid at Donnie this afternoon. His turn of foot when putting the derby to bed was devastating and why would we think that staying would be an issue over this 500m odd further? He won the derby by five lengths being eased, why would the St Leger distance pose a greater problem?
Main Sequence, second in the derby has no right to be reversing the form in my view. Yet O’Brien has issued a slight warning about staying the distance. If you ask me, that is simply bluster, the sort of thing a Premier League manager does to deflect potential blame – Camelot should win and O’Brien should accept that as fact.
It is a race in which you can score terrific each way value. Gosden has a terrific record in this race and when pushed, Buick has selected to ride Thought Worthy. I am not sure he has got this choice right but perhaps the sluggish look to his Irish Derby race might be ground connected, it was slow that day.
I am going to suggest two lively outsiders for you.
Thomas Chippendale is lightly raced but was beaten well by Thought Worthy at York. I am not reading too much into that as conditions were rattling and I do not think that this one acted on it – I would not put you off an each way slice at 28/1.
However, the Major is going for a 16/1 tip for the St Leger (Ladbrokes go quarter odds the place) with Guarantee.
If we are going to get Camelot beat, it will be the unlikely circumstance that the favourite does not stay. Dartford is in the race to ensure a decent pace and I think they might go quickly enough to try to exploit any potential stamina issues – This would set things up well enough for Guarantee who will be doing his best work at the death.
Late and fast, grimly staying on…. Let us see if Guarantee can give us the each way value. If you can take it, have a lumpy bet on the favourite too at 4/9.
The Irish St Leger – Tips for the Curragh
the Irish St Leger is an open aged affair and Gosden sends Aiken over on a raid. This could bear fruit as the Chantilly race he won was a very good Group affair. That said, his form in the Hardwicke was not brilliant.
Fame and Glory has won several times at the Curragh and the O’Brien trained favourite will no doubt be popular.
Brown Panther is another British raider with a sporting chance and the form with the others is well tied.
Hartani looks progressive to me and while he did not win his Leger trial, it was an eye-catching run all the same. The classic generation gets a generous lump of weight in this race but do not have a great race record. Interesting but I am not convinced this will be the first three year old in the last eleven years to win the Irish St Leger. Incidentally the last horse to do so was the incredible Vinnie Roe who won the first of four St Leger crowns for Dermot Weld at the age of three.
The Major has thought long about the likely way the race will pan out and in the finish I am going to suggest that Britain can complete a hat-trick of wins in this race.
I am opting for Aiken, his trainer works miracles with these sorts and 5/1 looks generous to me.
2.40 Chester – Listed Mile
After the loss of Never Can Tell yesterday, what better result that if Area Fifty One or Good Morning Star could win the feature Chester race for Dr Khoukash.
The market seems to think that Modun is the main threat but the Major has some serious doubts about this 13/8 favourite. He has been tried at a higher level than this and I am pretty sure he is under-priced here.
Instead the Major is going to stick with a horse that I still think has some class to show, if they can crack the code.
Naseem Alyasmeen is 20/1 with Ladbrokes and at this price, I suggest an investment. The Hamilton run did not look right to the Major and I remain optimistic that we will get a tune out of this girl sooner or later. Crucially she has form around the tight turns of Chester winning a handicap here in the summer (although off a lowly mark). Have a slice and thank me later.
Doncaster Tips – Champagne Stakes
Having covered the St Leger, I am back to Donnie for the second race of the day, the Group Two Champagne Stakes.
Toronado won a decent listed Ascot contest and looks well worth a crack at the Champagne Stakes. Representing last years winning trainer, surely a decent chance.
Tha’ir continues to run well for Godolphin who have won the race twice in the last five years. The last run at Sandown in Group Three company was pretty good – I just wonder if the bridesmaid position beckons again for this one who looks difficult to place.
5/4 shot Dundonnell won the Acomb Stakes very well last time out and you can see why he heads the market. Under pressure at the end of that race, he seemed to lug right for the Major though and that is enough to put me off.
On balance, I am tipping Toronado for the Champagne at 11/4 (Hills or Ladbrokes) – Decent price that.
International breaks give teams a chance to regroup and I would not be over-keen to read too much into the form of teams entering the break.
As such, the football tips the Major likes are 17/19 shots, Spurs to win at Reading and 16/11 Villa to do the business at home to Swansea. Have a double on that!
May your dinner be fuelled by a long-awaited 20/1 winner. A generous hearty meal awaits where wine may flow and hours pass. With good company a man can be simply content.
Courage, roll those dice.