The first race up on ITV’s Thursday card at Chester again sets that punting dilemma which hits you full square in the face. Bossipop in the 5f handicap at 13:30.
If this horse was drawn on the inner, then he would just about be vying for favouritism.
Torn about three-time course winner
The 9yo is something of a standing dish here, with three course wins to his name and a lot of near-misses too, even if he hasn’t really shone in his two starts in this very race.
He also comes into this race on the back of a good second at Musselburgh last time, a race in which his cause was not helped when he pitched down on his nose upon leaving the stalls.
He is 2lb out of the handicap here but he is still very feasibly weighted – he has been very competitive off higher marks than this here in the recent past – and it is just a matter of whether this fast-starter and prominent-racer can get a half-decent position from his outside draw in eight.
This would be the widest draw he would have won from at this course and, while the price is probably getting on for double what it would have been if he was trapping out of one (which he did when making all here in 2018) – he is 10/s with the Sportsbook, and a touch bigger on the Exchange – I am torn, I can tell you.
On balance, I’ll sit it out, and head to the 7f127yd handicap at 14:05 over a distance where at least you have half a chance if you blow the start.
Value Theory did just that at Musselburgh last time, so I would happily ignore that run, and Outgate has an obvious chance after a good second at Newmarket, but I am going with Bastogne, drawn six of nine, at 20/1 each-way with the Betfair Sportsbook.
I think 12s or bigger is fine, if necessary.
Take a chance on Bastogne
It is a similar angle to the one I went with last week on another horse of David Evans’ in that the first-time visor (the trainer has a better strike-rate with this initial headgear option than his all-in win percentage) is applied after a pipe-opener on the weather.
Last week’s selection ran well (but not well enough) to finish fourth at Goodwood at 20/1, and hopefully Bastogne can do even better.
It is encouraging that man-of-the-moment James Doyle is back on board, as he rode him to victory at Leicester last season and when running one of his better races when second to Desert Angel (a four-length winner last week) over 1m on good ground at Newmarket last September.
With rain about, the horse is ground-versatile, having finished fourth in a Listed race on testing ground at Chantilly after the Newmarket run, and the handicapper has given him a chance by dropping him 3lb for his Wolverhampton reappearance in February.
I suppose it is a touch worrying we haven’t seen him since that last-of-six effort but he shaped reasonably enough there, travelling well for a long way, if a touch too keenly for his 5lb claimer, but I am willing to take the chance at the price.
The horse has a big chance on that Newmarket run, and probably on the Listed fourth in France too, though I’d be guessing on the latter front.
Evans won this race with a similar type in 2015 – a 3yo coming off the back of a last-place on the all-weather two months before – so let’s hope Doyle will be getting a touch more media love after the race.
Bastogne is the bet of the day at the prices.
Surprising to see Mr McCann as an outsider
I was a little surprised to see Mr McCann, again ridden by Doyle, put in as the outsider of six at 17/2 when the betting first opened for the Dee Stakes at 14:40.
He doesn’t lack for anything in comparison to his rivals on the formbook and the clock, judged on his Superlative fourth and Epsom win in September.
Granted this Kodiac colt, running in a first-time tongue-tie, is hardly copper-bottomed to stay the extended 1m2f, but the pedigree does give you plenty of hope. And, in a recent interview, new trainer Hugo Palmer said he was “sure” he will stay 1m2f.
That has no bearing on my decision to tip him to be honest – Palmer has to think that if he is running him here – but I am happy to have a small bet on him at 9.08/1 or bigger. Odds of 7/1+ would be fine.
I didn’t think I would be tipping in the race at all, but the price dictated an interest. If he can get on the front end and try to make all as he did at Epsom, then so much the better.
I don’t have any issue with the way the Ormonde Stakes has been priced up at 15:10 – the favourite Albaflora is a fair price at 5/2 with the Sportsbook, especially with the 9mm of rain overnight on Wednesday – but a couple caught my eye in the extended 1m2f handicap at 15:40.
Enfranchise gets the nod but not Enigmatic
Connections of Enfranchise would have been gutted when they drew 13 of 14 as she is 5lb well-in after her narrow second at Brighton last week – she traded 1.111/9 in-running – and the pair pulled seven lengths clear of the third.
And the winner looks like taking her chance in the Lingfield Oaks Trial on Saturday, for all that may be an ambitious tilt for a filly rated just 90.
Again, Enfranchise would be more of a 9/2 poke had she fared better with the draw, as she is a forward-goer – I was with the Betfair Sportsbook, who made her a 4/1 chance when she was a general 7s in the wider marketplace – so the potential for a bet is there, and I am inclined to take it at 7.06/1 or bigger.
The time of that Brighton race was good and I think it was as strong a formline as the official handicapper believes, especially as both the winner and third were in-form and race-fit going into that contest.
It is now good to soft at Chester and any more rain would concern me – she is unproven on anything slower than good to firm on turf, and she was pulled out here on officially good ground here last September, though she was drawn six of eight against a 1/4 poke that day – but her price is fair, all things considered.
It is entirely possible she will be withdrawn if they do get any more significant rain, especially as she has the option of Hamilton on Sunday, but we cannot influence that. And I have literally just heard (11:05 on Wednesday morning) they have probably had another 3-4mm after that 9mm overnight, so we shall see.
I very nearly put up Enigmatic as a saver as he ran a cracker under an inexperienced 7lb claimer last time over 1m at Newmarket, as I initially thought he would get away with the step up in trip around here, given he has often finished his races strongly over 1m.
But he is far from watertight on the stamina front, and Doyle (that man again) could have a job on getting him home from stall 10, from off the pace, even if he does stay (which his current record suggests he struggles to).
William Haggas’ Pride Of Priory is the obvious one to fear.
ITV are also showing a race from Worcester, but not for me, thanks. The last time I looked it was the start of May, not the middle of October.
Profit and Loss (from March 26)
Previous (April 14 2021 to March 25 2022)
P/L: + 183.1
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