Sea Moon will go off favourite for Sir Michael Stoute following his impressive win in the Gt Voltigeur Stakes at York last month a race considered by many to be the premier trial for the race. Stoute had had many near misses in the race, prior to setting the records straight with Conduit in 2008, and I am of the opinion that he will have to settle for a place again as I am concerned about the validity of the York form run on ground that was not to everyone’s taste.
A half-brother to 2003 Leger winner Brian Boru Sea Moon did come home 8l clear of what looked a strong field in the Voltigeur but the ill-fated Rewilding was a facile winner of the same event 12 months ago and finished no better than sixth at Doncaster.
The progressive Census was always holding Brown Panther in the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury last time and he looks sure to relish the additional furlong and I am in the minority who believe jockey Richard Hughes has plumped for the right one in selecting the Hannon colt over Sea Moon who he rode at the Knavesmire.
Top French pilot Olivier Peslier gets the leg over the favourite but preference is for the filly Blue Bunting (3.10) who is bidding to become the first of her gender to win the race since User Friendly back in 1992. Blue Bunting has, of course, been on the go since her 1000 Guineas success on the Rowley Mile back in the spring and she did have a hard race when winning the Yorkshire Oaks last time against her elders.
Frankie Dettori has ridden the winner of the race on five previous occasions and he can improve his excellent record in the race with the 3lb fillies’ allowance just swaying me to dual-classic winner Blue Bunting in a cracking renewal.
Kieren Fallon on the other hand has never ridden the winner of the Leger and he rides the Michael Owen owned Royal Ascot winner Brown Panther who is likely to come up short although he remains a horse of considerable potential.
The big betting race of the weekend is the Portland Handicap and there is plenty of pace in the race with Zero Money and Swiss Dream both confirmed front-runners and in a wide-open event a chance is taken on the 3-y-old York Glory so impressive in a weaker race last time. Kevin Ryan saddles no fewer than four of the 22-runners and the booking of Fallon for last year’s runner up Bajan Tryst takes the eye but York Glory gets the vote.
Portland Handicap: prices from ; ew ¼ first 4
Zero Money 6/1
York Glory 7/1
Joe Packet 12/1
Swiss Dream 14/1
Nocturnal Affair 14/1
French Navy will be a warm order for the Select Stakes at Goodwood following his belated comeback win on the July course last month for Godolphin but I wonder just how good a race that was and preference at the likely odds is for the filly Ceilidh House (2.20) who was taken out of a race earlier in the week and can reward each way support. The selection goes very well fresh and is returning from a near three-month absence; one note of caution she didn’t run particularly well on her sole start on the Sussex track last August.
The Starlit Stakes looks at the mercy of Markab or Monsieur Chevalier on official figures and the former is certainly the one to beat but Desert Law (2.50) is just beginning to fulfil the expectations of his excellent handler Andrew Balding and he is another who can reward each way support.
There is a cracking maiden at Bath and the listed placed Moment Of Time (2.15) can get her head in front at the fourth attempt; from the family of Time Charter connections will be keen to get a win next to her name and, despite a three-month lay off, she can beat Godolphin’s Asaid who showed considerable promise on debut.
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