Learn can teach Camelot a lesson
AIDAN O'BRIEN can take the final Group One of the English campaign at Doncaster today, though he is expected to do so with Learn, not the hot favourite Camelot.
In a year that the Ballydoyle stable has landed some notable gambles, Camelot, a once-raced Leopardstown winner, has been backed from 9/4 into a best-priced 11/8. It may well be the case that the smart money is on Joseph O'Brien's mount, but we've also seen instances in recent weeks of the stable's vibes being way off the mark.
Lest we forget, the Rosegreen outfit's Power was put in his place in the Middle Park a fortnight ago by the 25/1 shot Crusade, and the lack of a distinct hierarchy remains the defining feature of the juvenile division.
Camelot could yet stamp his authority all over today's one-mile feature, but he is far too short for what he has done.
He was impressive on his debut, but the form of the race has not been advertised in any meaningful way since. Learn, on the other hand, has plenty to recommend him.
Beaten by stablemate David Livingston -- which has gone on to win the Beresford and be Group One-placed -- on his Curragh bow in May, he just got run out of it by Dermot Weld's Riviera Poet at Galway. There was no shame in that, with Weld's colt trained to the minute for Ballybrit, and the pair pulling 13 lengths clear of the rest.
Learn finally got his turn at Leopardstown over seven furlongs in August, when he made all under a superb Colm O'Donoghue steer to slam some smart two-year-olds by five lengths and more. That form has been franked in the meantime, with the third (Requisition), fourth (Akeed Mofeed) and sixth (Akeed Wafi) all winning since.
Akeed Mofeed further upheld Learn's profile by finishing a fine second in the Beresford, so the lines are rock solid.
More than that, the manner in which Learn sprinted home when asked to quicken was striking, and he looked to have all the characteristics of a Group One colt as he stretched clear.
While this is the first time that he has raced over a mile, he is bred to stay at least this far, so the 16/1 that can be had about him appeals as an incredibly generous offering.
Over jumps at Aintree, Master Minded is hard to oppose as he faces off against his old rival Albertas Run in the Old Roan Chase, but Edgardo Sol may represent a better value Ruby Walsh-ridden option in the two-mile novices' handicap chase. The impressive Ffos Las winner Havingotascoobydo tops the weight in this.
Successful over hurdles off a mark of 115, that one has been set a stiff enough task off 130 here. Edgardo Sol has much less on his plate thanks to the nine-pound four-year-old allowance, and he ran with some promise on his debut for Paul Nicholls.
On that occasion at Newton Abbot two weeks ago, the French import led early on, but his jumping lacked fluency at times.
He eventually finished third, so it is reasonable to assume that he will be a more potent force now with the benefit of that experience.
Of the Irish runners on the Liverpool card, Colm Murphy's Gormanstown Cuckoo and Tom Taaffe's Treacle are worth taking on side. Walsh takes the reins on Gormanstown Cuckoo in the novices' handicap hurdle, and it is of note that the English handicapper has added a relatively meagre four pounds to its Irish rating.
Having struggled though the winter ground at home last term, Gormanstown Cuckoo fared well during the summer, recording a facile win at Bellewstown in August. He subsequently laboured in the Listowel mud, so the better going will help again now.
The rejuvenated Treacle tackles the veterans' chase, a race in which the former Galway Plate hero Ballyholland carries top weight.
While the latter also got bogged down at Listowel, Treacle comes here on the back of an impressive Gowran Park win.
Best Bet: Edgardo Sol