Doncaster St Leger Day Preview And Predictions
The concluding afternoon of Doncaster's big week brings with it the final British Classic of the season as the headline act, the Cazoo St Leger Stakes at 3.35pm. It's part of a classy Doncaster card (1.15pm-5.10pm) that also includes Group 2s via the Champagne Stakes and Park Stakes before the main dish. The Racing Post bring you their preview, analysis and predictions to the Doncaster action on Saturday.
1.15 - Vertem Nursery (1m)
The Richard Hannon-trained Desert Angel is alone in being a maiden in this opening Vertem Nursery on Saturday's card and Hollie Doyle's mount will need to improve in first-time blinkers to change that fact now. Stablemate Magic Warrior tackles a mile for the first time and has improved in his previous two starts. The Hannon yard has won this three times in the previous decade.
Top-weight Fall Of Rome has been very consistent in five starts, winning over 7f at Newmarket in July on handicap bow and going well (second) there since from 6lb higher (with Desert Angel behind in third). He's got another rise to cope with now and first-time blinkers are added for an in-form Charlie Appleby string.
Hamilton scorer Thunder Legend is capable of better again, while Nasim steps into nurseries for the first time and has more to do in order to defy an opening mark of 78 following his Lingfield AW win.
LA PULGA was a Sandown scorer on debut in June and then finished right behind Fall Of Rome at Newmarket (7f, good to firm) in July under a patient ride. He saw out the mile strongly latest at Carlisle, awarded his race after being bumped late on in a close finish. He has an 8lb pull with Fall Of Rome from that previous encounter and looks a major player under the champion jockey Oisin Murphy for the Roger Charlton squad.
Selection: La Pulga
Next Best: Fall Of Rome
1.45 - Portland Handicap (5½f)
French import Hurricane Ivor has done very well since joining William Haggas this year. He won over 5f at Sandown in early July and has made the frame in big-field handicaps at Ascot and York either side of being well-held in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood. He should go well from an unchanged mark here.
MR WAGYU was a convincing winner at Glorious Goodwood himself, taking out the Stewards' Sprint consolation race in real style. Things didn't go to plan since in the Great St Wilfried at Ripon, but he's got a better draw here and it won't be a shock if he gets in the mix again for John Quinn and Jason Hart.
The likes of Copper Knight and Justanotherbottle are fairly reliable performers and should go well again, while Count D'Orsay ran fifth in a Sandown Group 3 as recently as July and could figure from a declining mark here if things fall his way. PJ McDonald's mount rates as one of the more interesting outsiders in the always tough Portland field.
Selection: Mr Wagyu
Next Best: Count D'Orsay
2.20 - Champagne Stakes (Group 2, 7f)
Lusail had Twilight Jet well behind in third at York last month as he completed a Group 2 double in taking the Gimcrack. He was a convincing winner of that race and been beaten only once in five starts thus far for Richard Hannon and Al Shaqab Racing. His is the benchmark for the others to aim at, though he does concede a 3lb penalty to this trio of rivals. Pat Dobbs' mount should maintain superiority over Twilight Jet.
Bayside Boy meanwhile won a good Newbury novice over 7f on debut in July and went down scrapping back there since in the Listed Denford Stakes behind Masekela. He's got plenty scope for better again rising in class a second time.
He does, however, have something to find with REACH FOR THE MOON judged on how far in front of Masekela that John & Thady Gosden runner finished when second to Point Lonsdale in the Chesham at Royal Ascot back in June.
The Royal runner opened his account next time in a novice at Newbury from Harrow (won all three starts since including the big 2YO Sales race here on Thursday) before swatting aside his rivals in the Sweet Solario at Sandown (7f, good) last month. In what has proved a hugely profitable week at Doncaster for the Gosdens and Frankie Dettori already, more success beckons.
Selection: Reach For The Moon
Next Best: Lusail
3.00 - Cazoo Park Stakes (Group 2, 7f)
Laneqash was second-best behind Sacred in last month's Hungerford Stakes at Newbury on his seasonal bow and the Roger Varian-trained colt has an obvious chance of building on that. He was second at this meeting last season in the Flying Scotsman Stakes and remains very low-mileage in what will be his fifth start.
There's plenty competition here though with Glorious Journey, D'Bai and DANYAH all respected. The former pair are both trained by Charlie Appleby, whose string are in superb fettle just now. D'Bai may have needed the run when only ninth in that Hungerford Stakes and could do better, while William Buick partners June's Criterion Stakes winner Glorious Journey - a good third behind Space Blues at York on his most recent start.
Owen Burrows saddles Danyah in what will be his first venture into this sort of company. Runner-up in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Ascot's Royal Meeting in June, he made all back there in July to win the International Stakes over a mile off a mark of 106 in game fashion. He's got to prove he can do it in Pattern-race company but, on ratings, there's nothing to suggest he cannot in what isn't the deepest Group 2 race.
Next Best: Laneqash
3.35 - Cazoo St Leger Stakes (Group 1, 1m6½f)
The ultimate test of stamina for the Classic generation. Charlie Appleby's hopes of securing a first St Leger win will be sky high here with Irish Derby hero HURRICANE LANE expected to take some stopping on Town Moor.
The Frankel colt suffered his only defeat in six thus far in the Epsom Derby this summer when third behind stablemate Adayar. He showed stamina to be a strong suit when gunning down the bold frontrunner Lone Eagle to land the Irish version at the Curragh later that same month and he was even more impressive at Longchamp when spread-eagling the Grand Prix De Paris field in July.
There's more than a hint of stamina in his pedigree and his connections have been awaiting this race ever since. William Buick won back-to-back St Legers in 2010/11 and it will take an heroic performance to prevent him bringing Hurricane Lane home in front now, based on the evidence to hand.
Aidan O'Brien accounts for four of the 10-strong field. Man of the moment Frankie Dettori rides High Definition, with Ryan Moore riding at Champions Weekend in Ireland. Third behind Hurricane Lane in the Dante earlier this season, this Galileo colt hasn't built on that and must have major questions against him after poor shows in the Irish Derby and the Great Voltigeur - though his connections did pay £50k to supplement him for this race.
Of more interest could be Interpretation, the mount of Hollie Doyle for the Ballydoyle squad. He's improving all the time and is 3-3 this season, including a Listed win over this sort of trip at Leopardstown last month. There could be plenty more to come from him and that run brings Donnacha O'Brien's Fernando Vichi into the picture. He's set to go off a massive price but shouldn't be dismissed out of hand with Oisin Murphy booked.
Epsom Derby second Mojo Star won a Newbury maiden in one run since and could harbour more Classic place claims for Richard Hannon, while Johnny Murtagh's Gordon Stakes winner Ottoman Emperor is on a roll and remains interesting with Ben Coen on top.
Selection: Hurricane Lane
Next Best: Interpretation
4.05 - Hippo Pro 3 Handicap (1m4f)
It's hard to rule any of the sextet out in this handicap but a chance is taken no TYSON FURY back at a track he knows well. Richard Spencer's Iffraaj colt won over C&D on debut last summer before an overly ambitious run in the St Leger (80/1) in what was only his second start. He defied a big drift to win again at Ascot in a novice event in October and was then asked some tough questions after his winter layoff in Group 3/Listed races at Newbury and Ascot.
He ran third at Newmarket (1m4f, good to firm) recently in a first-time hood (off now) making some good late gains and, with that being his first start in 111 days, he should be sharper for it. The assessor drops him 2lb and this 4YO could still have more to come.
The only 3YO in the field is Roger Varian's Title, who has twice run well in strong company at Royal Ascot and Hamilton (Listed) since he won a Yarmouth maiden in May. An opening mark of 103 is no easy task, but he gets his weight-for-age allowance to compensate.
Tim Easterby's Dark Jedi won at Ripon in July and arrives here off the back of a fine third at York (1m4f, good to firm) last month. He's gone up 2lb for his troubles but seems sure to run his race.
Selection: Tyson Fury
Next Best: Dark Jedi
5.10 - Vermantia Handicap (1m)
On what is expected to a major afternoon for Charlie Appleby and William Buick, they could be riding the crest of a wave when this finale comes around. Royal Fleet shed his unbeaten tag at York last month, finishing fifth in what was a tactical affair. He's certainly got more to offer.
Newbury winner Bear Force One needs more to defy a mark as lofty as this one, while Cruyff Turn and Dance Fever are others to be shortlisted. Ametist has ground to make up on the latter but might improve in first-time cheekpieces.
Though only eighth (of 29) at the line, RAADOBARG essentially continued his improved form at Royal Ascot in the Britannia Stakes. He'd earlier won back-to-back novices at Leicester and Thirsk before a winning start in handicaps at Haydock in May - all three success over a mile. He handles any ground and - after a midsummer hiatus - Roger Varian's Night Of Thunder colt could deliver another major showing.
Next Best: Royal Fleet