Saturday ITV Racing Tips: Loxley can win the St Leger for Boys in Blue
It's the final day of the St Leger meeting at Doncaster, and that means the final Classic of the season, so here with his thoughts for that race and ITV's other offerings in our resident tipster Tony Calvin...
"He is a stayer with speed, which is an ideal combination for this, and he could well be Godolphin's number one hope ahead of Voltigeur winner Old Persian."
Strong St Leger renewal has dented confidence in outsider
It's a good job that I didn't put up Proschema in Monday's ante-post column - though I had already backed him a few times myself - as the shape of the St Leger at 15:35 completely changed in a 24-hour window earlier in the week.
First, we had the news that Lah Ti Dar was being re-routed from the Vermeille and on Thursday morning Godolphin announced that Loxley was going to Doncaster, too, and there was no Arc trial for him at Longchamp on Sunday either.
So that has clipped my wings somewhat when it comes to tipping Proschema each-way in the Classic.
Don't get me wrong, I think he will outrun his massive odds - he is 66/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook and bigger win-only on the exchange - as his Melrose third looks very strong to me, with the winner and the fourth enhancing the form on Saturday.
But the (mildly) surprising inclusion of the aforementioned two horses really does eat into the place potential of the bet, and I can't get involved now. I am already on, so hopefully my new-found negativity will be misplaced and I collect.
Speed and stamina the ideal combination for Godolphin runner
You have to feel a bit sorry for ante-post backers of Kew Gardens - he has been matched at a low of [1.99] on the exchange - as he now has another strong brace of contenders to deal with.
He could still be the one to beat, having won a Group 1 and run the eye-catching race of the Voltigeur, when third to Old Persian from well off the pace under a 5lb penalty (the winner carried a 3lb penalty), but Lah Ti Dar adds the X-factor to the race.
She probably didn't beat a great deal in the Galtres Stakes last time, but that 10-length York win in a good time certainly had the wow factor and I don't anticipate the extra distance being an issue.
That said, we shouldn't be so blasé about a few of these going an extra 2f and 115yd for the first time, and Kew Gardens is the only 1m6f winner in the line-up, lest we forget.
Loxley was still available at 11/1 in a couple of places on Thursday morning after he was confirmed for this race, and I reckon he is still the each-way bet in the race now at 17/2 with the Sportsbook and similar prices on the exchange. It is annoying that he has shortened from 10/1 on Friday morning, but it is easy to see why.
He was tried in the Racing Post Trophy after dead-heating on his debut in a 1m1f Goodwood novice, and hindsight tells us that he had an impossible task in that Group 1 race that has worked out so well.
But there's no disgrace in his eighth and he has developed into a classy middle-distance/staying horse this season after seeing off Raymond Tusk over 1m2f on his return.
There was no disgrace in his second to Wells Farhh Go on fast ground over 1m5f in the Bahrain Trophy in July - especially as the winner got the run of the race from the front - and he has since netted soft-ground wins over 1m2f and 1m4f in France.
It wouldn't have been the strongest Group 2 he won in France last time - though Salouen, rated 118 earlier in the season, was beaten 2 lengths and a neck into third - but I liked the way he pulled clear in the closing stages.
He is a stayer with speed, which is an ideal combination for this, and he could well be Godolphin's number one hope ahead of Voltigeur winner Old Persian. He is my one tip in the Classic, and my second bet. Friday's rain was a Brucie bonus, too.
Two to take on Holmeswood with in the opener
The Doncaster card kicks off with the Portland at 13:50 and it brings back bad memories with Holmeswood heading the betting at 5/1.
We were with him at 16/1 at York last time and really should have collected, as he was beaten only 1½ lengths, closing strongly at the finish after being pulled around half of the field to make his run.
If his jockey had waited for a run on the stands' side, instead of switching, he must have gone very close to winning and he races off the same mark here.
Everyone saw how unlucky he was though, and now we are being asked to back him at 5/1 in a 22-runner race.
I have to pass, for all that he is clearly handicapped to win and the most likely winner of the race. With the pace in the race drawn on the wide outsides, his rider may also have another tricky decision to make from his midfield draw in nine.
I think high could be the place to be with the likes of Abel Handy in 17 and A Momentofmadness in 18, and that leaves me to the claims of Orvar at [18.5] or bigger. That seems too big with a horse of his obvious profile.
These sprint handicappers generally win in their turn and he certainly did that when bouncing back to form with a convincing win, in a quick time, over course and distance on his latest start.
He was pulled out of Haydock on Saturday due to the heavy ground but this surface will be perfect for him, and he has chances of following up off a 6lb higher mark here.
That is the same mark as when he finished a narrow second in an eight-runner field at Newbury in April, a race that worked out really well, with four of those in behind winning at least once subsequently. He should get a lovely tow into the race from 19.
Having flagged up the claims on Lancelot Du Lac at 66/1 with one firm on RUK's Betting Lab on Thursday afternoon - that was a silly price and never going to last, and neither did the 40s - I have to recommend a small saver on him at [34.0] or bigger.
I am worried about the form of the stable, and the selection could also be in better nick himself.
However, he ran better than it first appeared in the Stewards' Cup last time, with his rider easing him considerably in the final 100 yards or so, and the handicapper dropped him 3lb for it.
He is now 2lb lower than when winning that Goodwood race last season, so he is clearly well handicapped on that win, and his all-weather exploits earlier in the year.
If I am right about where you want to be, then his draw in 22 of 22 should be fine - extremes do worry me, though - and he also ran better than 12th indicates in this race last year off a 5lb higher mark than this (and he also ran well on his four previous visits here).
He wasn't ideally positioned on the far rail that day, but was still in there pitching at the furlong pole. This easier ground than of late will really suit him, too, and he is a very lively outsider, especially with the rain on Friday turning the ground good to soft.
Hot can win the Champagne but Unfortunately no bet in the Group 2
I can't see past the odds-on poke Too Darn Hot in the Champagne Stakes at 15:00 but no way would I back him at his price, while the 7f Group 2 race at 14:25 looks an absolute nightmare to solve.
Just 3lb separates seven of the nine runners on official ratings, and there isn't a horse in the race that likes to go forward.
Oh This Is Us has an obvious chance given his impressive Chester handicap win last time and his excellent course form, but I thought Morny winner Unfortunately was also half-interesting at around 14/1, down in class and up in trip. But it's not a betting race for me.
Dwyer has two strong chances at Chester
There are two interesting races at Chester on ITV, too, though I was hoping for a slightly bigger price about Shailene in the 1m4f Listed race at 14:40; she should relish the step up in trip judged on her Hamilton run but has a bit to find ratings-wise and played up at the start when withdrawn at York last time.
Martin Dwyer, who rides Shailene, also has an excellent chance on Night Of Glory in the 14:05. The horse has his soft ground and first-time blinkers (the stable are 9 from 48 with this option in recent years) could suit this lazy sort.
But Ian Williams has an equally good record when adopting a first-time visor on his charges (17 from 92), and if it works the oracle on Baydar then it is game on, as he is lobbed in on his autumn 2016 form.
He showed more at Hamilton last time and his previous trainer Hugo Palmer was adamant he wanted it soft, but the 1m6f+ trip is the question mark. Williams must fancy it though, and he is no bad judge.
However, on balance, I can leave the race alone, even if there is plenty of pace on here, and that should suit the run-styles of Night And Glory and Baydar.
Back Orvar at [18.5] or bigger in 13:50 at Doncaster
Back Lancelot Du Lac at [34.0] or bigger in 13:50 at Doncaster
Back Loxley at 17/2 each way with Betfair Sportsbook in 15:35 at Doncaster