Wednesday 22 May 2019

Magna Grecia can make it nine for O'Brien


The Dermot McLoughlin-trained Canardier and jockey Barry Geraghty soar over the final flight to lead home an Irish 1-2-3 in yesterday’s opening novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham. The 6/4 favourite finished two lengths clear of Go Another One, trained by John McConnell. Photo:Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
The Dermot McLoughlin-trained Canardier and jockey Barry Geraghty soar over the final flight to lead home an Irish 1-2-3 in yesterday’s opening novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham. The 6/4 favourite finished two lengths clear of Go Another One, trained by John McConnell. Photo:Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Betting Ring: Wayne Bailey

The late Henry Cecil holds the record for the most wins in the Group One Racing Post Trophy, now known as the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes (4.05 Doncaster) at 10, but Aidan O'Brien isn't too far behind with eight.

The first of those was Saratoga Springs in 1997 under Mick Kinane, the latest Saxon Warrior last year under Ryan Moore - and all eyes will be on Magna Grecia this afternoon to see if he can make it win number nine for O'Brien, having been supplemented for the race on Monday.

Saxon Warrior went on to win the Guineas after beating Roaring Lion in this, and Magna Grecia is priced around 20/1 for next year's Classic - although as mentioned before, I've largely gone off ante-post betting as I find bookmakers don't take too many chances these days.

So it's one step at a time, and overall, I reckon the 6/4 about the Invincible Spirit colt is a pretty good deal this afternoon.

O'Brien also saddles Circus Maximus (14/1) and Western Australia (33/1), but their odds are a fair reflection of their chances and the main threat to the bet comes from the John Gosden-trained Turgenev, which was trading around 7/2 yesterday evening.

Turgenev has won a couple of minor events at Newcastle and Newmarket, but he looked quite stylish in doing so and should have more to come.

However, previous Group race experience can make the difference, and I was quite impressed with Magna Grecia's improvement on his debut success when a neck-second to Persian King (tipped here) in a Group Three at Newmarket recently.

Persian King is 10/1 for the Guineas and both look like strong-maturing types so it will be an interesting race to watch if the pair do meet again.

Magna Grecia battled hard and made Persian King work for his victory, and that experience against another very promising colt should give O'Brien's charge the edge, with son Donnacha booked to do the steering.

At Newbury, I'm quite keen on Young Rascal, which was chalked up at 13/8 early doors for the Group Three Teddington Royal British Legion Stakes (2.20).

William Haggas's colt had a tough time in the Derby, finishing seventh, and Haggas has said it took him a while to get him right afterwards. But he beat some decent horses on his return in September in a Group Three including Desert Encounter. That horse went on to win the Group One Canadian International at Woodbine last time so it looks like a decent piece of form.

John Gosden's Weekender was third in a Group One at the Curragh last month and is sure to make it a competitive race.

A son of Frankel, the four-year-old was previously second in the Ebor Handicap at York under top-weight which is no mean feat, although he's now gone four races without a win, mostly at short prices. Early odds of 7/2 look about right.

If you're looking for something at a bigger price, consider backing the similar-named Dirty Rascal around 9/1 on the same card in the following Group Three Molson Coors Stakes (2.50).


Second in a valuable sales race at Doncaster, Richard Hannon's colt has never been outside the top two in his seven career starts, and tasted victory once again in a Newbury nursery last time which looks a decent piece of form. This is quite a step up in class but you never know unless you try, and I suspect he'll run a little better than those odds suggest.

Chairmanoftheboard will probably go off as favourite for Mick Channon around 7/4. He cost the bookmakers a packet when landing a gamble on his debut maiden recently, so it will be interesting to see what he brings to the table today.

Another one I fancy at a big price is Aim Power, which should be shorter than the 14/1 on offer for the Listed Fillies Byerley Stud Stakes (3.55 Newbury).

A promising sort, Richard Hannon's two-year-old was fourth in the Ladbrokes Prestige Stakes at Goodwood in August which is noteworthy, and was also third at Goodwood in a nursery carrying a big weight.

She's clearly got potential and I reckon it's a matter of time before she wins a Pattern race. Charlie Appleby's Ceratonia is also worth a mention. She was well out of her depth in Group One company last time but gave a good account of herself previously when second in a Group Three.

Do the double

Soccer: Both Spurs and Man City have played nine games in the league and won seven each, but of course the difference is that City have not lost their other two. They’ve also scored 26 goals, which is 10 more than the Londoners, so it’s no surprise to see the Citizens 4/7 favourites to lift the title with Spurs 30/1. Spurs are out of form in Europe but City are on fire, and Monday night’s meeting of the pair at Wembley could prove difficult for Tottenham. At 3/4, City are worthy favourites.

Racing: At odds of 6/1 or thereabouts, Barbill looks well overpriced in an open-looking Listed Doncaster Stakes (1.45). The two-year-old has had a reasonably busy season with two wins and three places from 10 outings, including a victory in a valuable race at the Curragh, and he wasn’t disgraced when third in a Group Three at Newmarket last time, priced 16/1. Back down in class today, it would be no surprise to see him fighting out the finish.

Today’s selections

Evergate will race off 90 today for the Handicap at Doncaster (3.25) and on the face of it, a 2lb drop for his latest flop at Catterick, in which he finished ninth of 14 runners, would seem about right. But I’m willing to overlook that performance as the son of Exceed And Excel got hampered at the start, leaving him racing off the pace, and never really in contention. He’d previously ran well off 93 when third in a competitive handicap at Ascot which might be a more reliable guide to where he’s at right now. With bookmakers chalking up the gelding at 20/1 in the early markets, I’m keen to take a chance each-way.


1.45 Doncaster: Barbill

2.20 Newbury: Young Rascal

2.50 Newbury: Dirty Rascal

3.25 Doncaster: Evergate (e/w)

3.55 Newbury: Aim Power

4.05 Doncaster: Magna Grecia


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