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Great Voltigeur preview

Making a rare foray into stakes class is blog regular Dan Kelly, @muffinmannhc.

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The Great Voltigeur is a confirmed St Leger Trial, and recently we have seen an increase in quality with Rewilding and Sea Moon taking the 2010 and 2011 renewals. Those winning connections are represented this year in the form of Encke, Energizer, and Noble Mission. This year's Derby second, Main Sequence, and fourth, Thought Worthy, and Royal Ascot winner Thomas Chippendale complete the field.

This has the potential to turn into a bit of a dawdle with Thought Worthy the only confirmed front runner in the field, but Encke as shown by winning at Sandown can take it up a long way from home, and without the hood, could Noble Mission be lit up here? I can only see this being a hindrance to one horse if they don't go a gallop and that is Thomas Chippendale. Keen on seasonal debut in the London Cup, he was wide throughout also which didn't help, but that keenness has never gone away. No surprise to see him get away with it at Newmarket against inferior opposition off 87, and Ascot is a course where the short straight and turning nature of the round course can ensure that if not pulling riders arms out then can get away with it, and I think that was the case then. He's yet to run on ground with Firm in the description, so that's an unknown and happy to oppose him due to the pace make up of the race also. That said I think he is the better of the two Sir Henry Cecil runners.

Thought Worthy has to go improve somewhat to live up to his brother, Lucarno, who won this in 2007, but his form has a solid look to it. Opened the season with a good second to Imperial Monarch at Sandown, he confirmed that run with a win over Noble Mission at Newmarket, giving the impression that the sooner he saw 1m4f the better. He did see 1m4f, but he didn't see eye to eye with Epsom Downs, and wandered under pressure. He wandered again under pressure when finish 0.75l to Thomas Chippendale and is becoming a worrying trend. You could give him the benefit of the doubt on both runs, at Epsom it's no surprise to see a horse wander under pressure, and at Ascot there's every chance he was still feeling that race and the softer ground may not have been to his liking, return to galloping track and quicker ground should see improvement, and an Autumn campaign looks like has been the plan given his absence since Ascot.

Noble Mission and Encke fought out a great finish at Goodwood, and it's hard to split them today. Encke will likely sit prominent waiting to take challenge 2 out, and Noble Mission will look to follow him through, however I'm not blown away by either of them. Noble Mission, a full brother to Frankel, has improved with each run, winning two close finishes, and losing out on two also, latest win being that Goodwood run. Connections are happy that he is improving mentally as well as physically and are running him without a hood for the first time today. Be interesting to see if he wears ear-plugs as a bigger crowd will be in attendance, Frankel Factor, and ear-plugs do not have to be declared. Either way, I am not blown away by his form, and less so by Encke. Winner of a Sandown Handicap courtesy of an astute ride by Barzalona, improvement is no doubt likely given that Goodwood was only his fourth start, but I can't be having him here.

Two who I think are overpriced are Main Sequence and Energizer.

Main Sequence, even though 5/2 favourite at time of writing, has a fair bit of juice left in that price given what we have seen him do over recent months. Winner of a handicap off a slow pace when held up, he went on to account for Shantaram in Lingfield Derby trial, winning it with a turn of foot and a flash of his tail. He improved again when posting a good second to Camelot, 6l ahead of Thought Worthy, showing that he got the trip no bother and was an unlucky loser in the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp. His last three runs formwise are head and shoulders above anything anyone else has posted in the field, and I would have him priced up closer to 6/4 for this contest. The race is likely to be ran to suit, as shown by wins at Newmarket and Lingfield he can quicken, and his Derby run points to this trip being his optimum. The St Leger trip is for another day.

I keep looking at Energizer and his price of 7/1 or 8/1 and I keep singing Black Eyed Peas - Where Is The Love. When previewing the Tercentenary Stakes for this very site, I stated that Energizer would be a good marker for where the German 3yo crop stand compared to the UK & Ire counterparts, and in short they are head and shoulders above the majority of the classic crop. Previous trainer was very bullish, citing a return possible for a tilt at Group 1 in England or return to Germany, Godolphin duly stepped in and purchased this Monsun colt, so the Group 1 may be the St Leger. He looked like a middle distance sort when campaigning over a mile earlier this season, and the ease in ground played into his hands at Ascot, with further improvement to come for the step up to 12f, I rate him as a bigger danger to Main Sequence than anything else and at the prices is more than worthy of a saver.

2pt Win Main Sequence @ 5/2 Ladbrokes (9/4 Generally)
1pt Win Energizer @ 8/1 (Ladbrokes, BetVictor, Stan James)


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