CHECKMATE or a Shoe-in?
James Doyle is no rookie when it comes to big-race success and the in-form rider has a chance to show he can play the King and Queen to perfection on CHESSPIECE (3.35) at Doncaster on Saturday.
Chappers thinks Doyle can land the St Leger on ChesspiecePA
The recent Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks and Vermeille-winning jockey rides for the powerful Simon & Ed Crisford stable in the final British Classic of the season, the Betfred St Leger over an extended mile and three-quarters and live on ITV.
Eyes will be glued to the Royal runner Desert Hero, trying to do what Dunfermline did for Queen Elizabeth II back at Donny in 1977.
And, of course, retiring (supposedly!) Frankie Dettori has the chance to go out with a bang on Arrest for the Gosdens.
John Gosden is bidding for a sixth St Leger victory, also saddle Gregory — who gives Kieren Shoemark a huge opportunity for a first Classic success — and Middle Earth, the Qatar Melrose winner who has Oisin Murphy on top.
But it might just be checkmate for Chesspiece, even though he was behind Desert Hero in the Gordon Stakes over the shorter distance of a mile and a half at Glorious Goodwood.
The Crisfords and Doyle started the year by nearly landing the Dubai World Cup with Algiers, and could finish it by going one big-race place better.
Simon Crisford says: “Chesspiece has been great since his last race and we think stamina is his strength. We think this trip will play to that strength.
“He’s always looked like a horse who should in theory stay well.
“The ground was a little bit quick for him in the Queen’s Vase when third behind Gregory and we probably didn’t see the very best of him that day.
“He needs to find another four lengths to be seriously competitive in the St Leger but he is still improving and we have every confidence he will run a very nice race.
“Soft ground will suit him well and, even if it dries out a bit, it should be fine for him. Any cut will help his cause.
“He approaches this race in very good form and we are very happy with him.”
I like the sound of that and make Chesspiece a super each-way bet!
Arrest might well go off favourite but I can’t see the ground being as testing as he obviously enjoys.
We saw that at Chester in May and he subsequently went off 4-1 favourite for the Derby. He hated Epsom and was beaten before Tattenham Corner that day.
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And the ground was too quick for him at Royal Ascot. He was back to form with juice in the ground at Newbury last time but I’m not sure the form is strong.
Gregory was well beaten by the re-opposing Continuous in the Great Voltigeur at York and, considering how hard he went off early, he did extraordinarily well to keep on for third.
Given a more measured ride he will run a big one I’m sure for Shoemark. As for Continuous, well, you can never ignore Aidan O’Brien in the St Leger.
The Ballydoyle wizard banged in his 4,000th victory the other day and has six Legers to his name including from the very talented Capri. Ryan Moore’s mount has every chance.
Of course the fairytale result for racing is a Royal success for the King and Queen via Desert Hero, and the King George V Handicap winner is improving fast, as his Goodwood win showed.
In his last three runs his rating has gone from 94 to 102 to 110 which tells a clear story.
The one question with him is stamina, although he races like an animal who will relish the trip.
Of the others don’t ignore Tower Of London, a stable companion of Continuous and a full-brother to Capri, who famously beat Crystal Ocean, Stradivarius, Rekindling and Coronet.
What a Leger that was!
O’Brien might well be heading for the Tower should be beat the Royal contender.
Elsewhere at Doncaster ROSALLION (1.50) looks a class act in opening Betfred Champagne Stakes for Richard Hannon but is priced accordingly.
And I’m all over MAKANAH (2.25) as a solid each-way bet in the Betfred Portland.
Despite the stable being very quiet, I have a feeling the old boy will take all the beating here for Julie Camacho and Callum Rodriguez.
This distance is ideal and he can run a big race off a 5lb lower mark than last year. He proved at York last time he’s in good shape with a fourth in a big field.
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