The racing broadcaster has a stable tracker runner in the feature race of the day, plus four more tips from Doncaster, Chester and Bath.
Keeping the faith with GREGORY in the St Leger (Doncaster, 15:35), the season’s final Classic, has required some perseverance this week – especially as some of the obstacles being placed in his way have come from within his own camp.
Granted, the deluge of rain that fell on Tuesday muddied the waters, resulting in Arrest being declared rather than heading for France. Then, having ridden Gregory alongside Arrest in a final piece of work, Frankie Dettori opted to jump ship and partner the Juddmonte horse instead.
Connections also have supplemented the progressive Middle Earth, meaning the Gosden stable now has three runners as opposed to Gregory having a solo from the yard.
From a Gregory perspective, the main concern is the ground, both in terms of his ability to handle it and Arrest joining the field. However, with a strip of fresh ground for the Leger and, at the time of writing – just before racing on Friday – the sun beating down on Town Moor meaning a good drying day in prospect, the Leger may not be quite as attritional as looked likely midway through Thursday.
The case for Gregory revolves around his proven stamina. His breeder Philippa Cooper is an increasingly rare champion for staying bloodlines and Gregory has it coursing through his veins, all of which makes the tactics employed in the 12f Great Voltigeur so perplexing.
While it might seem understandable to try and go hard to make it a test of stamina, it is a common misconception that this involves going quick right from the word go. The easiest way to beat any horse is to take it outside of its comfort zone, and that is exactly what looked to happen in the early stages with Gregory needlessly wasting energy in a battle for the lead that he did not need to win. The way to make stamina tell is to ensure a solid pace throughout, and Ryan Moore must have had a big smile on his face aboard Continuous as he raced his horse far more effectively from the back.
Gregory was also giving away weight that day and, with Dettori committing to Arrest in his final domestic Classic, he will also not suffer from the weekend ‘Frankie factor’ which ensures his rides rarely go off over the odds in feature races.
It may be more complicated and competitive than when Gregory was added to our stable tracker last month, but that is reflected in the price and, if Kieran Shoemark can make it a solid even gallop rather than over commit in any early skirmishes then his proven stamina can be a big asset.
ITV RACING SELECTIONS
It will be worth tuning in to the first of ITV’s six races to catch Rosallion, who made a big impression at Ascot and will be a short price to win the Champagne Stakes (Doncaster, 13:50). This is a race to watch rather than get involved in, and a chance to assess the potential of a horse who could be Dewhurst bound if he passes this latest test.
The big handicap of the day is the Portland (Doncaster, 14:25) where CALL ME GINGER can continue his love affair with this meeting. He ran second in a 6f handicap in 2020 off 82, won a lady riders’ race under Amie Waugh off 79 in 2021 and was then awarded the Portland last year on appeal having been second past the post off a mark of 89.
He has done just enough to creep in at the foot of the field this time and Amie Waugh can take off 5lb making a mark of 91 more appealing. Call Me Ginger is versatile with regards to ground conditions and, even though a higher draw would have been a plus, it can often be wrong to be dogmatic over draw conditions over a multi-day meeting run on soft where, by the end, the ground less trod can turn out to be an advantage.
Chester also features on ITV’s coverage and MODAARA 13/2 will appreciate some ease in the ground having seemed to find conditions too quick at Haydock last time, which was also the reason for him not taking up a recent engagement at the track when the rains failed to materialise. His strong travelling style should be suited by a track where tactical speed is an asset (Chester, 14:05).
Later in the card, DUE FOR LUCK has been handed an ideal berth in stall 1 (Chester, 15:52) to get a great trail into the race off the back of Bazball, who is well-named for his blazing front-running style. Jason Hart rides the Roodee really well (see Jockeys for Courses below) and Due For Luck should be able to maintain his unbeaten record.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Bath stages the finals of their Sprint and Stayers’ Series and, in the former, the enigmatic BEYOND EQUAL has a chance of landing the valuable pot (Bath, 16:00) having dropped to a good mark and shown signs of a resurgence in his last two starts. He is a very strong travelling horse and so the big field could well play to his strengths if Liam Keniry can get a gap at the crucial stage.
JOCKEYS FOR COURSES
Bath – Billy Loughnane (11 winners from 51 rides with an actual/expected ratio of 1.59). Has a full book of rides and, even granted his reputation, still outperforms the market based on previous visits.
Chester – Jason Hart (25/144, 1.54 A/E). This improves to 13/48 in the last three seasons, and he rides a tricky track consistently well.
Musselburgh – Shane Grey (26/198, 1.37 A/E)
MODAARA 13/2 (Chester, 14:05)
CALL ME GINGER 7/1 (Doncaster, 14:25)
DUE FOR LUCK (Chester, 15:52)
BEYOND EQUAL (Bath, 16:00)