After a 8/1 and 13/2 1-2 at Doncaster on Friday, Tony Calvin gives his thoughts on the St Leger as well as having a trio of bets to consider for Saturday's racing...
"His mark of 103 looks very workable, though. Not just on the recent Haydock evidence, but he has also been rated 12lb higher in the past and has plenty of big-field handicap form, including here, over this trip."
For the past fortnight or so, I have been laying the front three in Betfair's St Leger ante-post market - with a bit of in-and-out trading thrown in, too - and I am happy enough with my book.
It is disappointing to see English King heading to France instead of Doncaster this weekend, but I still think I have a few lively ones running for me - chief among them Galileo Chrome - and it is not as if I have a bad position, having laid Pyledriver and Santiago at a shade below 3/1 and Hukum just shy of 7/2.
I can't do much damage, as it stands.
Pyledriver the clear form choice and he could even improve for St Leger trip
However, I may have to re-jig my book a touch in the day-of-race market as I am firmly coming round to the fact that Pyledriver probably deserves to be a bit shorter than [4.4].
I was on him at big prices for the Derby after his emphatic Royal Ascot win but, in common with a fair few in that race, he met some early trouble from his low draw and he never got competitive.
I then ignored him at York and was naturally delighted - not - to see him absolutely trounce the Great Voltigeur field (which included today's rivals, Berkshire Rocco and Subjectivist), powering away at the end of the contest.
He has already massively outrun his pedigree, being by the unbeaten 6f juvenile Harbour Watch, and his run-style gives you every indication that he is in with an excellent shout of staying this extended 1m6f.
Of course, it is never a given - and some have questioned whether his stride pattern is that of a stayer - but if you didn't know his pedigree, you would say he could improve for the extra 2f given the manner in which he has finished off his races over 1m4f at Ascot and York. He really was strong at the line in both contests.
He is the clear form choice going into the race, and he looks the most likely winner to me, having looked at the final field afresh on Thursday night.
I will stop at putting up him as a bet though, as he does meet some unknowns in Hukum and Galileo Chrome and some dangerous lurkers down the betting such as Mohican Heights, another of my Derby plays at big prices to bring disappointment in the big race.
Going for a Touch in the opener at Donny
The opening 1m handicap at 13:15 is not on ITV but I have to start here, as I think Another Touch has been given a huge chance by the assessor.
Older horses tend to get more lenient treatment by the handicapper, and Another Touch is a 7yo now, but very rarely do you see horses dropped 5lb for one run, and one that was not too disappointing either.
He went off at 100/1 on his first start since March in that race at York last time, and that handicap promises to be one of the hottest we see in 2020 given the way it is working out (the third won a Group 3 last Saturday, for a start), but he actually travelled well for a long way on the inner, and a 10-length beating in midfield probably does him a disservice.
He is now just 3lb higher than when completing a hat-trick in January (and 4lb lower than his all-weather mark) - so we are not dealing with some back number, old guy here - and his last appearance at this track saw him finish third in a Listed race over 1m.
The ground and trip are perfect for him and, given he is a hold-up performer, he is set to get the classic Jamie Spencer treatment, hopefully off a strong pace.
I was amazed that the first firm to price up this race on Thursday made him their 25/1 outsider, as I am happy to back him at [21.0] or better. You may well get bigger, but 20/1+ is very acceptable.
Of course, the lightly-raced 3yo Matthew Flinders and others have stronger claims, but no way should Another Touch be so dismissed in the market.
Impressive course and distance winner Albasheer surprisingly headed the market ahead of the form horses in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at 13:50 when the firms went up on Thursday, with some installing him as short as 6/4.
But he may not be the clear favourite by the end of Friday afternoon, as the money (what little there would have been so far) has come for Chindit.
There is little doubt that the similarly unbeaten Chindit, and Naas disappointment Devious Company, have shown more, but we simply don't know how much Albasheer has in the tank.
With just seven runners and no each-way play, it is easy to pass on by with this race.
Veteran sprinter has lots going for him
When the betting opened for the 22-runner Portland Handicap at 14:25 Danzeno was 14/1 across the board on Thursday afternoon.
Quite how all of the odds-compilers came to the same conclusion I don't know - well, I do, as they all copy each other - as I think he will probably go off at single figures now after being supported throughout Friday.
I appreciate he is the oldest horse in the line-up at nine-years-old and has to give weight away all round, but he surely would have gone close to winning with anything like a clear run at Haydock on Saturday, and is 1lb lower here.
And in-demand claimer Ray Dawson (who did us a big favour on gambled winner Tranchee at Donny on Friday) takes another 5lb off, too.
That third at Haydock also came against two well handicapped horses and backing up quickly is no hardship for this veteran, as he ran two great races within a week in October last year, finishing a length third of 22 in the Coral Sprint Trophy on the latter occasion.
He has also run crackers in two of his three visits to Doncaster, and good ground (or a touch quicker) should be okay for him, though connections have admittedly made noises about him preferring ease in the past.
One site suggests there may be spits and spots of rain on Saturday morning though, and I also just wonder whether the clerk of the course will now consider watering.
It will be in Danzeno's favour if he does, and I suppose there is the possibility of the horse being withdrawn if he doesn't and it continues to dry out appreciably.
His mark of 103 looks very workable, though. Not just on the recent Haydock evidence, but he has also been rated 12lb higher in the past and has plenty of big-field handicap form, including here, over this trip.
He is drawn in four, so Dawson may have to do some maneuvering, but there is pace drawn low in Konchek (1), Hans Solo Berger (7), Meraas (8) and Justanotherbottle (9), so hopefully he should be okay where he is.
Call me Captain Aftertime if you want but I filed this piece early on Friday morning when 14s was still the general price in the marketplace, though in the back of my mind knowing the price was never going to last.
But I am happy to still put him up at [11.5] or bigger, win-only, on the exchange after my usual afternoon price sweep before going live.
I don't have a betting opinion in what looks a tricky 7f Group 2 Park Stakes at 15:00 so I am happy to move away from Doncaster.
ITV are also broadcasting from Chester and Leopardstown, though it is really unfortunate that the former course has only attracted five and seven-runner fields for their terrestrial races.
I can't see any betting juice in the 1m4f Listed race at 14:05 and the seven-runner 1m2f handicap at 14:40 is not that much more appealing.
Restorer looks a fair price at around 9/1, as he has never run a bad race in four starts here and the first-time cheek pieces is a fair angle into him as well, but he does look poorly handicapped on the balance of his recent runs and he ran so poorly at York last time that is easy enough to swerve him, even if the price provides some compensation.
Clever enough to take on front two in the Matron
Irish Champions Weekend kicks off at Leopardstown on Saturday, and ITV are showing the two Group 1 races.
I am not inclined to look beyond Ghaiyyath in the Champion Stakes at 16:10 after another huge performance at York but he is hardly bet material at 4/6.
To some, but not here. Maybe Sottass could be of some interest in the "without" market when those lines appear on Saturday morning.
The 11-runner Matron Stakes at 15:10 has a better betting shape to it, as I think you can legitimately take on the Classic winners Fancy Blue and Peaceful at their prices.
Even if you shop around, the best you can get is 2/1 and 9/4 respectively, and I would be inclined to lay the pair and have the field running for me.
I will do that personally on the exchange, as long as I don't have to offer too much over the best fixed-odds prices to get them in the book, but for the purposes of this column I am going to put up one against them.
I was tempted by the Jessica Harrington second-string Valeria Messalina at the Sportsbook's 16/1 but she could be more of a 7f horse - her Irish 1,000 Guineas run behind Peaceful suggested as much, as did her two improved subsequent efforts over 7f - but Know It All was going to be the each-way punt against them at 10/1.
Annoyingly, the 10s went on Thursday night, so I am now going win-only on the exchange at [10.0] or bigger.
Cieren Fallon, with his first high-profile ride for his retaining owners Qatar Racing, will have to be at his best to get her home from stall 10 of 11, but he has a willing, brave and improving filly under him.
She took the gap when it appeared when decisively winning a Group 3 over course and distance in July and she progressed again when a close third in the Prix Rothschild last time.
That wouldn't have been the deepest Group 1, but she was beaten under a length by a horse, Watch Me, winning her second race in the highest grade and the runner-up went into the race on a four-timer.
Add in the fact that Know It All was a bit too keen on the front end on the outside there, and I think you had to be very encouraged by the performance, and let's hope that Fallon can get her settled and have a dream ride here, and not a nightmare trip from the wide draw.
Another Touch at [21.0] or bigger in 13:15 at Doncaster
Danzeno at [11.5] or bigger in 14:25 at Doncaster
Know It All at [10.0] or bigger in 15:10 at Leopardstown