What a start to the St Leger Festival for the column. Two winners plus a running on second puts us firmly in the driving seat for Day Two. Today, the feature is the Doncaster Cup where we could see another dual winner in the history of the race, which dates back further than the St Leger. There’s also a couple more 2-Y-O races to cover on the card in Four To Follow.
Racing at Town Moor yesterday was slow. The 2-Y-O selling race was the second slowest in its history, which shows you the extent of how much the rain has got in. There’s a bit more rain forecast overnight but it shouldn’t’ be softer than yesterday. This will incline punters to stick with soft ground horses, and the favourite is just that. He scorched clear of C&D in June, and was pulled out at Haydock last Saturday due to the ground, and he’s got his ground here today. Trainer Owen Burrows has entries for him in the Dewhurst and the Futurity at the end of the season and is clearly one to keep an eye at three.
Another that can perform on the soft ground is Dancing Gemini. A winner at Newbury on good-to-soft, he steps up in grade but not by much and is the perfect progression step for Roger Teal’s two-year-old. The form has been franked with two winners out of the Newbury maiden next time out, and those that raced next time out came in the top three. Dancing Gemini has a very good chance of outrunning her 17/2 (William Hill) odds.
Bermuda To Brighten
2:25 – Flying Childers Stakes (Group Two) – Flora Of Bermuda @ 7/1 (William Hill)
Looking at some of the trainers comments, some are quizzical about the ground particularly Big Evs. This news opens the door to other runners down the order and Flora OF Bermuda can put on another good showing today. She won by four lengths in the mud at Goodwood, and won’t mind the ground one jot at Doncaster on Friday. Her ground preference was evident when finishing last at York in the Lowther, but she’s back in calmer waters and can sail past those struggling with the ground.
At a price, and a good name, Graceful Thunder has won three races this season all with soft in the title. The best of those was a class two maiden at Beverley and has gone since to win a Listed contest and was narrowly beaten in a Group Three, both in France. George Boughey enjoyed a 2-Y-O winner yesterday with Chic Columbine and has an outside chance with Graceful Thunder at 14/1 (Betfred)
Ding Donny Battle
Coltrane has started to kick into gear this season and his Lonsdale Cup victory was mightily impressive. He was ever so tough to hold off Trueshan last year, in similar conditions. However, we just don’t know which version of him we’re going to see as it’s his first run after a wind op.
Both will enjoy the ground, there’s no doubt, but Coltrane has to carry a penalty for this race which gives Trueshan a chance. But I have to come down on the side of the horse that has performed admirably, and that is Coltrane.
In terms of a handicap, it’s a poor turnout. Eight runners at this level is disappointing, but it’s what we have to deal with. But despite the lack of challengers, it’s an intriguing race. The Goat is the one to beat with his 12 length romp in the Goodwood mud still fresh in the bookies minds. He didn’t run a bad race in the Melrose, finishing in midfield on ground he’s not keen on has to go noticed.
But I feel Legendary Day will give him a big challenge. He’s ground versatile and can stay over further, which will be crucial here. His performance at the Ebor Festival was fantastic, finishing third. Mark Winn is a jockey I have a lot of time for and take three pounds off to give him an attractive mark of 83, the same mark he won over two miles with.
The very best of luck!