William Haggas has his team back in rude health right now and the juveniles successes of Glitter Girl and Mubtasim on the Town Moor on Thursday underlined that fact. RIVET looked very much out of the top drawer when scooting up in the Convivial Maiden Stakes at York’s Ebor meeting last month and looked ready for the step up in class in the Group 2 At The Races Champagne Stakes. He can only improve further as he gains experience and is fancied to take this contest at the expense of Thunder Snow.
A devilishly tricky handicap with several hardened campaigners with nothing in hand of the handicapper and the in form Sir Billy Wright handed an impossible looking draw in stall 12. Chester regulars will need no introduction to the prowess of Scouser Franny Norton around this unique course and possibly the best option could be the three-year-old HALEY BOP who had another of today’s rivals Gratzie behind when chasing home the improving Eternally at Lingfield last month and then could have found the race coming too soon when put in an uncharacteristic performance at York five days later.
Another monkey puzzle that is hard to unravel but it could be worth siding with the topweight DOUBLE UP with the Roger Varian team returning to full health after being effected by a virus that has badly effected Newmarket stables. Time has shown that the Alan Spence-owned five-year-old had an impossible task when trying to concede 17lb to Ridge Ranger when beaten only a length and a half in a five furlong handicap at Goodwood in July of last year. That mare is now rated 110 and Double Up was beaten only a length and a half and three quarters of a length by Take Cover and Cotai Glory on his reappearance in a listed event at Haydock in May. The winner went onto win the Group 2 King George Stakes at Goodwood and Cotai Glory finished runner-up in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Double Up has been dropped a couple of pounds by the handicapper and that could be just enough to swing this contest his way.
There is no questioning that DESERT ENCOUNTER is climbing through the ranks and he emerged from an impossible position to finish a highly creditable third to Tawdea in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock last month. That came on the back of four straight handicap wins and the David Simcock is still lightly raced with only eight career starts. He could well take this at the expense of the now expensive-to-follow Foundation who is becoming exasperating to follow.
The ground could well be too lively for Breton Rock who would have obvious claims on soft ground and there appears to be no reason to desert RICHARD PANKHURST who showed improved form when beating reliable yardstick Home Of The Brave a length in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last month. He has a 3lb penalty for that victory but now he has struck winning form he could well be ready to go on from that success.
There is simply no way of getting away from the claims of IDAHO who looks a good bet to provide Aidan O’Brien with a fifth St Leger success. The Ballydoyle maestro has taken this final domestic Classic with Milan (2001), Brian Boru (2003), Scorpion (20050 and most recently with Leading Light and has by far the best form claims. The Galileo colt finished third to Harzand in the Investec Derby at Epsom in June and had narrowed the margin of defeat to only half a length in the Irish Derby at the Curragh at the end of June.
He showed that staying was his strong suit when coming through to master stablemate Housesofparliament by a length and three quarters in the Great Voltigeur at York last month and, although he may be a little quirky, he has class in abundance and could once lead home a 1-2 for his powerful stable.