Angus McNae - Saturday 14th September 2013
Be Bold and Chuck out Excess Knowledge
The St Leger of 2013 looks like it is a below-par renewal is a line that I have heard lately.
It is a popular line when a race looks to be too difficult to solve, when there is no standout performer, where the official ratings of the horses are not quite as high as some think they should be.
I prefer to wait until after a race before judging it, the standard of the race is set by what is achieved in the race not by what some think of it beforehand.
If you forget that it is the oldest classic and the final one of the year, and just think of this as just another race you would find it hard to identify a decent angle for a bet, from a punting point of view it is tough, and as such I think you need to make a couple of tough decisions.
Firstly be brave and lay the favourite Excess Knowledge to be out of the frame. This may well prove to be a bonkers theory but at around even money you are not going to do much damage.
This wager is born out of the fact that this horse has achieved nothing of any significance on the clock yet. It is argued that he should have won the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood and was a little unlucky. I also feel he probably would have won but for getting stopped in a pocket, but the progress he made once extricated was labored.
He looked like a classic late headway horse that sucks us all in and then spits us out next time he runs for a loss. I know he is trained by John Gosden, who has an excellent record in the race, but for all Gosden's talents he cannot make this horse run faster. Yes the long straight should give this horse time to wind up to top gear, but there is no evidence that even in top gear the engine is powerful enough.
The Gordon Stakes was a slowly-run affair and that seemed to hinder Excess Knowledge, but ask yourself a few important questions: how do you think he would have got on if it had been run at a searching gallop? Have you got any evidence that he could handle that scenario? Can he go throught he pain barrier at Group One level? The answers are that both you and I have no idea, but at even money I am prepared to wager that he is not up to the task and there will be at least three better than him on the day.
That is mad theory number one.
Number two is that I think Talent should be backed each-way at the 11-1 available.
The Oaks was a good race. Some would have you believe that it was not because few winners have come out of it. This is poor analysis because what other horses have or have not achieved since the race is irrelevant to the strength of the winner's performance and the truth about what Talent did is the speed figure that she produced was top-class.
Let me elaborate. If Usain Bolt won a 100-metre race beating a field comprised of myself and my colleagues are we to assume that the race is worthless even though he posted a item of 9.6 seconds? Because the vanquished went on to lose every race they ran in subsequently that does not devalue just how fast Bolt was able to run in that original contest. The same applies to Talent in the Oaks.
If we are to back her we must forgive her poor effort in the Irish Oaks. I have no idea what went wrong there, but Ralph Beckett is a top-class trainer and he would not be running her if she had not recovered from what ailed her there. She is a strong stayer and will handle the ground and at 11-1 she should be backed each-way.
I am in the studio today to present Mark Your Card and thereafter will be helping the boys on-course with all the action from Chester.
Angus's Saturday tips:
3.50 Doncaster: Talent each-way at 11-1 with Paddy Power
Lay Excess Knowledge for a place at around 2.1 on the exchanges.
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