St Leger Day Tips: O'Brien 'second string' can claim final Classic of the season

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Tony has five bets for Saturday's ITV racing at Doncaster, Chester and Chelmsford
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The St Leger is the feature race at Doncaster on Saturday and Tony Calvin believe the two jollies are worth opposing while he also offers a quartet of other bets on the afternoon...

"The likely strong pace will play into Il Paradiso's hands, so hopefully Padraig Beggy will keep it simple and sit handy behind the pace-setters, and I keep on coming back to the merit of his York third to Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee over 2m at York."

Back Il Paradiso at [10.0] win and [2.5] place in 15:35 at Doncaster

Ever since Il Paradiso finished third in the Lonsdale Cup, I have been singing his praises for the St Leger, and I see no reason to desert him now in Doncaster's Classic at 15:35.

I just can't have Dragonet and I'm not keen on Logician at this trip either

The market in recent days has been screaming that Sir Dragonet is the stable number one, but I can't have him at all at his current odds of 3/1.

In fact, I'd struggle to be interested in him at considerably bigger.

It is apparent Sir Dragonet is regarded as a much classier proposition than his stablemate on the Ballydoyle gallops, though - Donnacha O'Brien was raving about him in an interview on Racing TV on Thursday, saying he is "flying and the one to beat" - and this is a horse who handled fast ground well enough when fifth in the Derby, beaten under a length, on just his third start (and a mere five weeks after making his debut).

But you'd struggle to rate that bare Epsom form too highly, for all that three Group 1 winners have come out of the race, and his run at the Curragh last month was decidedly underwhelming.

I know it was over 1m2f and he was reportedly very much in need of the run after a six-week absence, and was looked after, but his profile doesn't entice me.

No-one is talking down Logician's credentials after his defeat of Constantinople in a fast time in the Voltigeur (it was rather galling to see the runner-up, my long-term fancy for this race, be sold after York and presumably heading to Australia instead of sunny Donny) and he could well kick this field out of the way.

But he is only currently rated the same horse as Il Paradiso (and 2lb behind Sir Dragonet), and I see him as far more of a 1m4f horse - he put the race to bed at York with a mid-straight move and wasn't extending his advantage at the line - rather than a stayer, and we shouldn't just assume that he will last home over this extra 2f and 115yd, especially as he was a bit keen early doors last time and needs to settle.

Strong pace on fast ground a plus for Paradiso

There won't be any hanging around here with the progressive and likeable Sir Ron Priestley in the line-up and the other Ballydoyle underling Western Australia too, and the Queen's Vase winner Dashing Willoughby will be up forcing it as well, you would imagine. And Nayef Road is another potential front-runner.

The likely strong pace will play into Il Paradiso's hands, so hopefully Padraig Beggy will keep it simple and sit handy behind the pace-setters, and I keep on coming back to the merit of his York third to Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee over 2m at York.

Doncaster Races - 1280.jpg

Granted, that run came out of the blue somewhat but he went into the race totally unexposed as a stayer after winning a Curragh 2m handicap by daylight on his first start beyond 1m4f, and I believe it's a straightforward case of him coming into his own as he has stepped up in distance.

There is a possibility speedier types could do him for foot stepping back in trip, but he is worthy of far more respect than his current price suggests, especially as this will hopefully develop into a stamina test, even on the quick ground.

So in we go at [10.0 win] and [2.5] place, even though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly worried about his sparely-used jockey, a Derby winner or not.

Madness not to back this one under Buick

Doncaster has been blighted by small fields all week, and the brace of Group 2s on ITV are not worth dealing with for our purposes - just 11 runners in the two contests, and a mere 13 in the last three races on the card, too - but the 22-runner Portland handicap at 13:50 is right up our strasse.

I tipped Marnie James and A Momentofmadness at York last month, and they both ran blinders to finish second and sixth in that race, but I am going to desert the former, who followed up with a good third in Listed company next time.

I am staying loyal to A Momentofmadness at [10.5] or bigger though, as he has been left on the same mark for that much-improved run - he had finished well-beaten at Goodwood the time before, if not given a hard race - and he is surely well placed to follow up his win in this race last season.

He made all to win that day, from stall 18 under today's jockey William Buick, by ¾-length from an in-form Encrypted and he is actually 4lb lower now.

Buick seems to be the key to getting a real tune out of this horse - he has won three times on him, as well as some of his better efforts in defeat - and hopefully he will make another bold bid from his midfield draw in 13.

He could well get plenty of attention on the front end by the likes of Copper Knight (in 10) and Justanotherbottle (21) - not to mention three or four other would-be trailblazers - but he is not a one-trick pony as regards run-style, and Buick will know that better than anyone.

Old boy can come good if they go too hard

As I mentioned, there is a lot of pace in the Portland, so I want a closer on my side too in case they go too hard and Muthmir, drawn around the speed in 16, fits the bill at [15.0] or bigger.

You have to forgive him three moderate efforts since a length fifth in the Epsom Dash but he has come down 5lb in the weights since that run and he is in his element on quick ground.

He is also two-from-two at the track, including a devastatingly-impressive win in this race in 2014 (off this mark) and the old boy could have one last hurrah in him.

The cheek pieces replacing the blinkers he has worn for his last two starts is another positive for me, as all his best recent runs, including a Group 2 win and a King's Stand fourth in 2017, has come in that type of headgear.

Two ITV bets away from Donny

The five-runner Listed Stand Cup at Chester at 14:05 is on ITV as well, and course-and-distance winner Durston makes the most appeal at 4/1+.

In fact, I will put him up as a bet at [5.0] or bigger, even though he is the lowest-rated horse in the line-up.

He may not have lasted home over an extended 1m5f in bad ground at Newbury last time, even though he has won over 1m6f on a fast surface - he travelled sweetly but floundered late on at Newbury - but that still wasn't a bad effort in Group 3 company against loftier opposition.

The drying conditions will be in his favour here, his earlier 1m4f Goodwood second to Sir Ron Priestley looks very strong handicap form (the winner and fourth won next time), and a creep-and-pounce ride from his jockey is very much on the cards here.


The final terrestrial race is the 14:45 at Chelmsford and it is an interesting 7f handicap.

Lethal Lunch got mullered when going well at Ascot last week and has obvious claims, and Breathless Times initially caught my eye on his first start for Stuart Williams before I clocked he was drawn 13 of 13.

I did my money on Arbalet at Ascot last week, but there were excuses for the run - which wasn't that bad anyway in the final analysis - and the handicapper has dropped him another 2lb for it.

That means he has now been lowered a stone in the weights since the start of the campaign and surely he is a winner waiting to happen off a mark of 93.

I was expecting him to force the pace last week but he didn't make Pat Cosgrave's life very easy, proving too keen and running around a bit in the first-time blinkers.

It looked as though he was going to drop away at the 2f mark but he actually stuck on very well thereafter, despite not getting a lot of racing room, and he was beaten just under 3 lengths at the line.

He has never raced on an all-weather surface before but the fact that a lot of his best form at sand-based Ascot is promising, as is the fact that he is drawn in one.

He does have pace outside in stalls three and four - and further out wide, too - but hopefully he will get a handy position on the inner at the very least and he is well worth another go at at 9/1 each way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook off this mark.

The early, general 12s in the marketplace has gone unfortunately , but he remains a very backable price.

Tony Calvin,

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