0.75pt each-way Venice Beach @14/1, 15:35 Doncaster, Saturday

We’ve an above-average field for this year’s St Leger at Doncaster, the third and final English Classic race for three-year-olds this season.

I’m not sold on joint-favourite Crystal Ocean’s credentials given he’s unproven at Group One level and over this staying trip.

He won a Group Three on dire ground at Glorious Goodwood on his last start but didn’t beat much – though he did prove he handles cut in the ground, which he gets here – and I don’t think 4/1 reflects his chance.

Irish Derby winner Capri looks a better bet at the same price given he beat current hype horse Cracksman and also English Derby winner Wings Of Eagles in that race.

That’s no doubt the best form on offer and the Galileo colt could be a no-brainer at 4/1 with Ryan Moore in the saddle.

However, I rather think he got the run of the race in the Irish Derby and possibly benefited from Wings Of Eagles’s career-ending injury – whilst Cracksman has definitely improved since and it’d be dangerous to compare the two on that run.

As we learned in the Derby, trainer Aidan O’Brien doesn’t go mob handed in these races for tactical reasons – they all have a chance – and, once again, his other runners have been dismissed by the market.

Whilst Douglas Macarthur and The Anvil probably have an unrealistic chances, I think VENICE BEACH has been underestimated at 14/1.

A half-brother to Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners on both the dam and sire side and with soft ground no issue, there aren’t a lot of negatives besides the clear collateral form disadvantage with Capri on the line through Cracksman.

Venice Beach was last out when beaten six lengths by a much improved Cracksman in the Great Voltigeur, but Aidan O’Brien has had bigger ambitions than that Group Two for this horse and has been quoted saying he left plenty off him in the run up to that race, with this the primary target.

I think that was an excellent run.

O’Brien also expressed confidence Venice Beach will stay this extended trip – whilst Seamie Heffernan’s presence in the saddle suggests he’s clearly fancied second best of the O’Brien team, after Capri.

Venice Beach plugged on well in the Great Voltigeur and also ran very well on his previous start in a Group One in France (watch below), staying on strongly to finish a never-nearer third behind Permian and the winner Shakeel, who’s not been seen since to provide some context to the form.

Sadly Permian has passed away after a nasty incident in the USA, but we knew how good he was after beating Crystal Ocean in the Dante and again at Royal Ascot.

I’m hopeful and optimistic the St Leger trip can bring out enough improvement in Venice Beach to surpass Permian’s level of form – and at 12/1 I don’t think he should be three times the price of the favourites.

Of the rest, it’s taking that Frankie Dettori has opted to ride the filly Coronet above Group One winning stayer Stradivarius, possibly because of ground concerns.

Improving fillies are very effective at this time of year – we tipped Simple Verse to win this two seasons ago – but I don’t think this one has the class.

Many pundits fancy Joseph O’Brien’s Rekindling for this race but I don’t as I’ve not seen anything in five starts this season to suggest he can win a Group One, particularly in a deep renewal of a Classic.

Similar comments apply to Raheen House and Count Octave, but Roger Varian’s Defoe is very difficult to assess.

Unbeaten from four starts this season and proven with cut in the ground, he also has Doncaster-master Andrea Atzeni in the saddle.

We could take a punt on the unexposed 6/1 shot, but why do that when at twice the price Venice Beach has so much scope to improve and boasts such solid form of his own?

0.75pt each-way Venice Beach @14/1, 15:35 Doncaster, Saturday (1,2,3,4, 1/5, various)

I’d expect best prices to be available around 10am Saturday morning.

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