Great Voltigeur Stakes Betting Tips & Predictions – York, Wednesday 21st August 2019

For the first time, total prize money will exceed the £5m mark at this year’s Ebor Festival. The four-day meeting at York begins this Wednesday and the Great Voltigeur Stakes is one of the races ensuring that things get off to a thrilling start.

The race gets its name from the Yorkshire-trained St Leger & Derby winner, Voltigeur. Since its 1950 introduction, 13 horses have won both this race and the St Leger the following month. We’ll resist discussing Nayef Road’s prospects in the Doncaster Classic this soon but he’s got our full support for this Ebor Festival challenge.

Top Tips

Nayef Road to win @ 11/4

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Info

In this race, former Group 1 and 2 winners (after 2017) are slapped with a penalty in an attempt to level the playing field a little. Nobody ticks either box this year though in what is not the strongest renewal of recent times.

GoingDistanceClassPrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good 1f 3f 188y Group 2 £170,000 5 1/4 1-2

Recent Winners

Old Persian cooked up something of a surprise when winning last year, ending a decent run of short-priced winners. Each of the previous five Great Voltigeur champions set off at no larger than 3/1.

Michael Stoute is usually the man to watch out for in this race having saddled nine previous winners but he has no entries in the mix this time around. Aidan O’Brien has a two-pronged attack but the Irishman has just the one winner since 2004.

YearWinnerSPTrainerJockey
2018 Old Persian 7/1 Charlie Appleby James Doyle
2017 Cracksman 4/6 John Gosden Frankie Dettori
2016 Idaho 5/6 Aidan O’Brien Seamie Heffernan
2015 Storm The Stars 3/1 William Haggas Pat Cosgrave
2014 Postponed 5/2 Luca Cumani Andrea Atzeni

Analysis: Logician facing a challenge

The field for this Great Voltigeur Stakes renewal may be a small one but market leader Logician won’t be able to canter to the finishing post. He’s without a truly formidable rival but both Nayef Road and Constantinople will be credible threats on his Group debut. John Gosden’s horse has shone in lesser contests but we’re not so sure he’ll have quite enough to edge out two names with super experience.

Nayef to topple Constantinople

Nayef Road (11/4) and Constantinople (9/4) engrossed us with a superb battle during the final stages of the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood. The former gamely held his neck in front as they crossed the line during a terrific show of character. A first Group title was a deserved reward for a horse on an upward trajectory, previously claiming third in the Queen’s Vase and later second in the Bahrain Trophy. Ryan Moore didn’t have his best run on Constantinople when the pair met at Goodwood but Nayef Road should have even more to offer on just his second mile and a half start.

Logician a risky pick

Past trends tell us that Great Voltigeur champions usually hadn’t won previously at Group level, a small boost to Logician’s appeal. A lack of action higher than Class 3 remains a concern though as this test will be quicker than anything he’s faced previously. Gosden’s horse has only seen off some pretty weak fields at Newbury and Newmarket, last time out beating four others while the 1/5 favourite. None of his rivals that day had an official rating over 88 so this is a distinct step up for the unbeaten colt. Maintaining his winning run isn’t an impossible ask but at 11/8, the market has too much faith.

No way for Norway

Aidan O’Brien has enjoyed some surprises with his three-year-olds this season but Norway doesn’t look like being the next. He’s finished at least seven furlongs behind the winner in each of his four starts this season, three of which have been during 12 furlong tests. A second to Sir Dragonet on his winter return at Chester is perhaps his best effort this campaign but he’s now competing on a course far more suited to galloping types. Prospects appear slim for the son of Galileo so he’s one that’s best to quickly discount.

Final Verdict: Nayef Road to win

Nayef Road and Constantinople could well put on another fine show for us but we expect the outcome to be the same. Mark Johnston’s horse hadn’t previously ridden across a mile and half but he appears to have found his mark as he put in a career best showing. We think there’s more to come from the Group 3 winner and we won’t be waiting long to find out.

About

Painting of Voltigeur by William Barraud
William Barraud (1810-1850), Wikimedia Commons

Voltigeur may not be a name you’ve heard of before but in his heyday he was one of Yorkshire’s best sporting assets. The British thoroughbred secured victories in The Derby, St Leger and then Doncaster Cup after famously edging out the previously unbeaten, The Flying Dutchman, by half a length. Upon his death in 1874, the Sheffield Telegraph called Voltigeur “the pride of the Yorkshire sportsman…and one of the most popular horses that ever trod British turf.”

Seeking to pay tribute to such a fine horse, York Racecourse introduced the Voltigeur Stakes in 1950 with ‘Great’ added to the title seven years later. It’s at York where the Group 2 contest has remained, now scheduled to play a major role on the opening day of the course’s excellent Ebor Festival. Run over a distance just shy of a mile and a half, it serves as one of the main trial races for another of Yorkshire’s big contests, the esteemed St Leger.

Much like the St Leger, the Great Voltigeur Stakes is also restricted to three-year-olds but it does have additional limitations. For starters, only colts and geldings can compete in this race and there are also penalties of 5lb and 3lbs respectively handed to former Group 1 and Group 2 winners respectively.

St Leger Double Proving Increasingly Tricky

Thirteen Great Voltigeur Stakes winners have successfully secured further success in the last Classic of the season, the St Leger, but the last horse to do so was Lucarno in 2007. After averaging a double winner every five years approximately, the wait for the next horse to complete the feat is now rather overdue.

It’s hard to say anyone has even come especially close since Lucarno either. Several Great Voltigeur champions have swerved the test at Doncaster while others have struggled to fully cope with the fiercer competition as the table below shows:

Great Voltigeur Winners at the St Leger: 2009 - 2018

Year Great Voltigeur Winner St Leger Finish Distance Beaten Odds
2018 Old Persian 5th 10 ¾ lengths 8/1
2016 Idaho Unseated rider N/A 8/11
2015 Storm The Stars 4th 1 ¾ lengths 2/1
2012 Thought Worthy 6th 13 ¼ lengths 10/1
2011 Sea Moon 3rd 3 ½ lengths 2/1
2010 Rewilding 6th 6 ½ lengths Evens
2009 Monitor Closely 3rd 2 ½ lengths 7/2

We stated above that 13 horses have pulled off the Great Voltigeur/St Leger double but had the stewards been feeling a bit kinder in 1969, the figure would be 14. Intermezzo, ridden by Australian jockey Ron Hutchison, found himself boxed in during the final Great Voltigeur renewal of the late 1960s but forced open a gap for himself on the way to victory. It turned out to be a little too forceful in the end with the stewards demoting the future St Leger winner to fourth spot.

Distance Success Not Required

For a test virtually one and a half miles in length, it’s always good to know if a horse can last the trip. Since 2010, 30% of all competitors in this race had secured a previous 12 furlong victory but many of them have fallen short in this contest.

In fact, Old Persian became the first horse sporting a (D) next to his name on the racecard to win this race after Youmzain in 2006. Former distance experience seems to count for very little here so don’t put much faith in 12 furlong winners to thrive at York.

Chart Showing the Previous Experience of Great Voltigeur Winners Between 2007 and 2018

The Inside Curse

Typically this race features fields ranging from six to 10 horses so purely going by averages you’d expect there to be a winner from the first stall every eight years or so. Such an assumption would lead you far from reality though as in actual fact, runners starting in the inside gate have fared very poorly indeed. The last horse to successfully overcome what appears to be the rotten draw was Pentire, all the way back in 1996. Although it’s hard to think there’s much draw bias in a race of this length, a 20+ year winless streak for horses starting by the rail is hard to ignore and has to be worth considering when placing your bets.

The chart below shows the draw of Great Voltigeur winners between 1999 and 2018. Please note that the 2008 race was run at Goodwood so has been discounted from these figures.

Chart Showing the Draw of Great Voltigeur Winners at York Between 1999 and 2018

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