It’s the start of the Festival that celebrates the oldest Classic in the calendar. The St. Leger Festival at Doncaster is always a fantastic meeting, and there are four days of excellent racing action, kicking off with two Group Two’s today in, a short and sweet, Three To Follow.
Leading Into Battle
2:55 – Weatherbys Scientific £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes – Dragon Leader @ 9/4 (William Hill)
Big field two-year-old races are, more often than not, a minefield for punters. But this particular race falls quite nicely in the calendar to have a go at. Most of the winning form comes from York’s two-year-old races, whether that be the Gimcrack, the Harry Beeby or the Nurseries.
Dragon Leader is thrice unbeaten, including scorching to victory in the Harry Beeby at York last time out. He’s ended up with a surprisingly low weight, which will be beneficial for him to perform on what may be soft ground, since a bit of rain has been forecast in Yorkshire this afternoon. William Buick takes over from Ryan Moore who is Johannes Brahms.
One who will appreciate juice in the ground is Flaccianello. After the fallout from Kevin Stott and Amo Racing earlier in the week, Cam Hardie gets the nod from Richard Fahey. Hardie has ridden and won on him on debut, and crucially won a nursery on soft ground last time out with plenty in hand and looks the each-way danger at 16/1 (Betfred).
There’s one at a big price which I really interested me, Grey Cuban for Hugo Palmer. His last run wasn’t his best, but blame the ground for that run as everything happened at quite a pace. His previous two runs came on good-to-soft, and the form from his run at Nottingham has worked out a treat. Five winners have come out of that race, including four on their next start. Danny Tudhope enjoyed a profitable weekend in Ireland, and can pull a shock off here at 40/1 (William Hill).
Darn Far Too Hot
3:00 – Betfred May Hill Stakes (Group Two) – Darnation @ 7/4 (William Hill)
I watched this horse in person when she broke her maiden at Thirsk. She won by ten lengths and I had a feeling that she would take the Group race route. She has the makings of (whisper it quietly) a potential Guineas winner. Her win in the Prestige at Goodwood affirmed my beliefs and now she comes to Doncaster, on ground she will relish. Clifford Lee rode her on her ten-length victory and has the ability to do it again, but with an appreciable step up in trip.
Sumo To Sparkle
3:35 – Betfred Park Hill Stakes (Group Two) – Sumo Sam @ 4/1 (William Hill)
A race for the staying fillies’ over the St. Leger distance may seem appealing, but this year’s renewal looks hard to decipher. I’ve gone for those who have stayed the trip well over 14 furlongs, as that covers most of the distance (excluding the half furlong). Sumo Sam fits the brief, winning over said distance last time out in bottomless ground at Goodwood. The soft ground won’t be problem to her and can showcase her talents with Rossa Ryan in the saddle.
But Night Sparkle also drew my eye in this open looking race. She’s running for the fiest time under Andrew Balding, and a horse moving to a top stable like his should not go unnoticed. She’s three from three, but is markedly stepping up in grade after winning two class three handicaps on the spin. But she’s won with dig in the ground and isn’t without an each-way shout at 8/1 (Betfred).
The very best of luck!