Rivet is a warm order to win the opening Champagne Stakes (2.00) and is clearly an exciting prospect, but I’m not sure his price reflects what he has done so far, and I’m happy to take him on with THUNDER SNOW who is quite a physically imposing horse and I think the galloping nature of Town Moor will really suit the Godolphin colt. I’m pleased that Saeed bin Suroor has given the son of Helmet plenty of time to recover from his excellent second in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood and his rivals need to improve to beat him.
DOUBLE UP had been pretty consistent prior to finding the company way too hot in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, and Roger Varian’s talented sprinter should find this much more to his liking. He’s never won off a mark this high but remains relatively lightly-raced for a five-year-old and his stable have really hit form in the last couple of weeks. I respect the chances of last week’s Haydock winner Soie D’Leau, especially if the rain comes in the quantity that is expected, but Double Up has plenty of form on ground with cut and rates a big each-way player in what isn’t a vintage renewal of this famous prize.
It’s not going to take as good a performance as it normally does to win the Park Stakes (3.10) and, with the William Haggas team in such good form, I am siding with ADAAY who handles give in the ground and the application of blinkers for the first time might be able to eek out a fraction more progress from the Kodiac colt. He looks a spot more value than favourite Richard Pankhurst, who is likely face very different conditions to those at Newbury last time.
In the St Leger (3.45), I’m going to give a tentative vote to the apparent Ballydoyle third string, SWORD FIGHTER, who faced a tricky task in the Goodwood Cup last time but ran very well in defeat, posting a career-best effort on the figures. He really tried to put it up to Big Orange and paid the penalty and probably would have finished second or third had he been ridden with a touch more restraint. In a winnable running of this famous race, he looks overpriced, particularly as we know he stays very well and will be fine with cut in the ground. Idaho is evidently a pretty talented horse - he’s bred to be good – but his jockey was at pains to hold on to him for as long as possible at York and he will have everything tested to the maximum here, given the way the St Leger is normally run, and I wouldn’t want to be backing him at odds-on.
We have a truly terrific Irish Champion Stakes to look forward to at Leopardstown (6.45) on Saturday evening, with so many Group One winners lining up, but I’m not going to fall into the trap of underestimating the French raider, and ALMANZOR could hardly have been more impressive this season. Despite his trainer being six and a half thousand winners down the line, Jean-Claude Rouget is having one of his best ever seasons and his French derby winner looks the value call in an unmissable contest.