St Leger Festival | You’re my Wonderwall – The Top Three

York Dante Festival

It’s day two of the 2023 St Leger Festival and having kept my powder dry yesterday, three horses are firmly on my agenda to finish off the working week in good style.

Hopefully, this year’s three-day event at Doncaster can prove to be as equally profitable as the York Ebor festival because if this is the case, we should have no problems.

So, here are the three horses to consider today.

 

1:50 Doncaster – War Rooms @ 2/1 with William Hill – 2pt Win

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I’m starting the St Leger Festival with a confident play as there’s no getting away from War Rooms at 2/1 in the Listed Flying Childers Stakes.

Trained by Owen Burrows, an operation that doesn’t waste many bullets at these big festivals, this Churchill colt is one of two once-raced two-year-olds in the contest having shown a great turn of foot over course and distance on soft ground in late July.

What was striking from this victory was how he was able to pull nearly five lengths clear of the second within the final furlong-and-a-half in the conditions.

Furthermore, although his sire Churchill was a ground versatile horse, the American-bred side of his pedigree initially suggests that quicker ground would be more to his liking, especially with a damsire of Aptitude.

However, his three winning siblings – Herring Island, Rhinestone, and Aduna – all have great soft ground form; Rhinestone was even a valiant runner-up on soft in the 2018 Grade 2 Future Stars Bumper at Leopardstown.

War Rooms’ breeding suggests that he could stay further in time, so today’s seven furlongs on rain-softened ground should be right up his street, making him a good play in the second race at Doncaster.

 

3:20 Chester – Wonderwall @ 6/4 General – 3pt Win

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Over at Chester, a horse that will be popular with Oasis fans is Wonderwall at the head of the market for the two-mile handicap.

The multi-purpose gelding by Yeats has been a regular in the national hunt scene for the last few years, notably when successful over the now 142-rated City Chief by three lengths in a maiden hurdle at Doncaster before his fall at the last hurdle in the 2022 Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle when looking like a winner.

Connections gave him a 288-day lay-off from the track until the Grade 2 Coral Racing Club Novices’ Chase at Newbury in late 2022 where he travelled extremely well into the race before fading on a quick ground.

So, in the jumps code, he is a very classy horse. Even when racing in bumpers as a four and five-year-old, he won on debut at Ascot on soft, finished third to Knappers Hill on soft in a Listed bumper at the same course and then ran a good race to finish seventh behind the likes of Sir Gerhard, Kilcruit, Three Stripe Life and Grangee in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper.

Since switching to the Flat, all three of his runs since the start of July have been over an inadequate trip of 12 furlongs, so this hike in distance to two miles should see him to best effect.

Wonderwall holds a Cesarewitch entry for later this year and is currently 33/1 for that, so if today goes well, connections could be packing their bags for a trip to Newmarket in October.

 

3:35 Doncaster – Quantum Leap @ 6.1 with BetVictor – 1pt EW

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Finally, the concluding race on ITV from Doncaster today is the £60,000 Mallard Handicap, a contest that should set up nicely for the slow-starting Quantum Leap under Callum Rodriguez.

The four-year-old by New Approach must be a frustrating horse for trainer Edward Bethell – who is running at a 43% strike rate and recently won the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock – as in all four of his appearances on track, he has failed to break from the stalls with any intent.

Despite this, the 19,000gns purchase has been successful in 50% of his races to date, most recently at Haydock on good-to-soft ground when making up a plethora of lengths to win comfortably.

The handicapper slapped an extra five pounds onto his official rating after the run, so there seems to be plenty of wiggle room left off 87, especially when you consider that he beat Aztec Empire on debut who is now rated 93 and has good form with Sweet William.

In what looks to be a winnable race, not many of his competitors look well-handicapped on their current mark, yet Quantum Leap does and should be feared for the in-form Bethell operation.

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