Monday 11 November 2019

Capri can sail to Leger glory for Ballydoyle

Ryan Moore: partners Capri today. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Ryan Moore: partners Capri today. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Wayne Bailey

Wayne Bailey

I read somewhere that on the old sailing ships, the ropes that controlled the sails were called 'the 'sheets'. If one or more of the sheets were not secured properly, it left the others at the mercy of the weather or 'to the wind'.

If all three sails where loose, the ship would sway from side to side, rather like a bloke that's had a few too many.

Despite the fact that he was very often three sheets to the wind, the jockey William Scott (1797-1848) made quite a name for himself in his day, both on the racecourse and off it.

Indeed, one of the claims he made soon before he died was that he had never gone to bed sober.

While he won the Derby four times, on one occasion he finished second - and contemporary reports say he would have finished first had he not been so drunk that he couldn't steer his horse.

Despite his wild streak, Bill Scott won no fewer than 19 British Classics and holds the record for the most St Leger wins for a jockey with nine to his credit.


While the likes of Aidan O'Brien, Henry Cecil, John Gosden and Saeed bin Suroor have tasted St Leger success multiple times in recent years, none of those have a patch on Bill Scott's brother, John, who holds the record as the most successful trainer in the race with an incredible 16 wins.

In this afternoon's St Leger (3.35 Doncaster), the aforementioned Aidan O'Brien seeks his fifth win and I'm quite keen on Capri, which is vying for favouritism with Michael Stoute's Crystal Ocean in the betting, both priced 7/2 at the time of writing.

Second in the Dante and third in the King Edward VII, Crystal Ocean finally got his Group win when storming clear to take Gordon Stakes last time, a race which is often used as a stepping stone to the St Leger - the last horse to complete that double being Stoute's Conduit in 2008.

He'll probably stay the distance although his Gordon Stakes jockey Ryan Moore, who rides Capri today, reckons he's not really a mile and six horse.

He's almost certainly got more improving to do but when it comes to a choice between potential and proven form, I tend to go with proven form and Capri certainly ticks all the right boxes here.

The St Leger is, of course, all about stamina and the selection improved a lot when stepped up in distance this summer finishing a respectable sixth in the Derby.

But he really came into his own in the Irish equivalent beating Cracksman and Epsom Hero Wings Of Eagles and, as it stands, is 6lbs superior to Crystal Ocean on ratings.

It's also worth noting connections of Crystal Ocean have remarked that they think he'll be a better horse next year. Roger Varian's Defoe is another one with claims having won his latest four races.

On the same card, Acclaim catches the eye priced around 11/4 in the Group Two Alan Wood Plumbing And Heating Park Stakes (2.25). Martyn Meade's colt was second in the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last time and he's won a couple of times over this 7f trip.

At Chester, Andrew Balding's Duretto looks set to go off as favourite in the Listed Stand Cup Stakes (2.40) and that's understandable considering he has Group Three winning form under the belt, and was also placed here at that level last time carrying a 3lb penalty.


But yesterday's odds off 7/4 seem a little skinny so a chance is taken on Mark Johnston's Soldier In Action, expected to go off somewhere in the region of 11/4. A fairly decent handicapper, he won a competitive race at Goodwood in August off 106, but struggled when raised 3lbs for the Ebor at York last time out.

It will be interesting to see him race at Listed level here now that he's a little high in the ratings for certain handicaps, and I've a strong feeling this will be closer than the market suggests.


The Portland Handicap (1.50 Doncaster) is never an easy race to figure out, and last year's Betting Ring selection Harry Hurricane (10/1) was going well before push came to shove and he became a little one-paced - finishing third to Captain Colby.

Both horses are back for more today but last year's winner Captain Colby gets the nod each-way around 14/1. Admittedly, he hasn't won since and has appeared rather lazy in most of his races this season, leaving connections scratching their heads.

But this course seems to bring out the best in him and he's now down to 92 in the ratings, 3lbs lower than last year's winning mark and well below his high of 101.


1.50 Doncaster: Captain Colby (e/w)

2.25 Doncaster: Acclaim

2.40 Chester: Soldier In Action

3.0 Doncaster: Hey Gaman

3.35 Doncaster: Capri

4.20 Gowran: Laganore

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