The final classic of 2023, the Betfred St. Leger Stakes take centre stage in Doncaster this week.
However, a little less than 24 hours before, Friday’s Doncaster Cup is given equal billing.
A Group 2 contest over 2m2f, the British Champions Series contest pits the finest stayers over the flat head-to-head and for Coltrane, his 22nd outing could be a landmark one.
Can the defending champion join the likes of Stradivarius, Millenary and Double Trigger, becoming the stuff of race legend?
Group 1 drought
It’s been another strong season for Coltrane, albeit having been lightly raced this summer.
Compared to the gelding’s seven trips in 2022, trainer Andrew Balding has given the 6yo son of Mastercraftsman just three runs since June.
All three have been at festival meets, but only one has brought success; last month’s Lonsdale Cup during Ebor week.
🏆 Coltrane wins the @WbysHamilton Lonsdale Cup! @AndrewBalding2‘s star stayer fends off Courage Mon Ami and Giavellotto to land the £250,000 Group Two prize under @oismurphy 👏 pic.twitter.com/nr4d1i7CSk
— York Racecourse (@yorkracecourse) August 25, 2023
Despite coming here with a 1-3-2 formbook, the remaining elephant in the room is his absence of a Group 1 win.
Fourth to Kyprios in last year’s Goodwood Cup, Quickthorn’s sensational run on return to West Sussex then saw a third place.
Before that of course, as Ascot Gold Cup favourite, Courage Mon Ami and Frankie Dettori nipped home.
Elite success will have to wait until 2024, but defending the crown would be the perfect springboard.
A familiar foe
It was 12 months ago at a big price that 9/1 Coltrane stunned the bookies by beating the 2/9f.
Friday’s race will see Trueshan looking for revenge.
Holding out by a neck last time out, the two will lock horns to renew their rivalry and Hollie Doyle will be hoping for rain to arrive. It should.
As it stands, the head-to-head teller reads: Coltrane 2-1 Trueshan.
The former won their most recent clash at Ascot back in May’s Gold Cup trial, where Doyle was forced to settle for fourth.
This will be Trueshan’s first outing since wind surgery.
Broome will also be another familiar face in the stalls as for the fourth time this term, Aidan O’Brien’s relative veteran looks to land a blow on Coltrane.
The other big Doncaster Cup player this year, is Sweet William.
Previously unbeaten this year before the Ebor, the Gosdens tasted defeat to Willie Mullins and Frankie Dettori via Absurde means.
A horse for all conditions after an impressive win in the mud in the Coral Summer Handicap at Goodwood, the 4yo adds half-a-furlong to the trip here.
Could that prove pivotal, with a win over just longer than 2m?
The in-form Oisin Murphy may have other ideas.
The Betfred Doncaster Cup Stakes takes place over 2m2f on Friday at 15:00 BST