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Doncaster St Leger Festival – Day 1

Morning all,

The sizzling September weather is set to continue for the start of Doncaster’s St Leger Festival. Its 12 months since Doncaster hosted a government pilot event. Which enabled a small number of paying spectators to attend a British racecourse for the first time since March. Sadly, the pilot only lasted a day. As the local public health authority pulled the plug due to rising Covid19 cases in the area. This meant the rest of the festival took place behind closed doors. No issues this year and the meeting will take place with no crowd restrictions.  

Inside today’s main piece I have some Cazoo St Leger Festival trainer stats for you. Plus, you can read my thoughts on six of the seven races on the Doncaster card.

Doncaster St Leger Festival Trainer Stats

Since 2016 the top three trainers at the St Leger Festival in terms of winners are:

John Gosden – 11 winners from 42 runners 26% -0.26 20 placed 48%.

Ten of the Gosden winners were sent off 5/1 & under with Frankie Dettori – 8 winners from 16 runners 50% +6.84 10 placed 63%.

Roger Varian – 10 winners from 45 runners 22% +18.46 19 placed 42%.

Sir Michael Stoute – 7 winners from 19 runners 37% -0.45 11 placed 58%.

Several more trainers like to have winners at the meeting. Of those with two or more winners since 2016 these are the most notable:

Others to note:

Andrew Balding – 6 winners from 38 runners 16% +35 12 placed 32%.

Interesting all six of the Balding winners had never won over the race distance before – 6 winners from 29 runners 21% + 49 11 placed 38%.

Given the form of the yards runners this season I’m sure he will be disappointed of he doesn’t add another winner to that total.  

Ralph Beckett – 5 winners from 30 runners 17% +23.50 13 placed 43%.

All five of the Beckett winners had run between 1 & 3 times that season – 5 winners from 18 runners 28% +35.50 11 placed 61% – producing a £48.05 profit to a £1 each-way stake

Clive Cox – 4 winners from 16 runners 25% +29.50 5 placed 32%.

Also, a special mention for Roger Teal2 winners from 4 runners 50% +17.50.

Trainers to avoid:

David O’Meara – 0 winners from 31 runners -31 4 placed 13%.

Mark Johnson – 2 winners from 53 runners 4% -45.62 (It’s worth noting that 30% of his runners have placed in that time).  

Hopefully these stats can point you in the way of some winners over the next four days.

Wednesday racing

Sadly, the ITV cameras won’t be in attendance on day one of the St Leger Festival. It’s the ‘Legends’ race at 2:50 which sees the return to the saddle of jump legends Richard Johnson & Barry Geraghty. There’s also the Group 3 Sceptre Stakes (3:25) and Listed Scarborough Stakes (4:00). Despite the forecast good to firm ground the field sizes for the seven races have held up well.

Doncaster St Leger Festival – Day 1
1:45 – Hippo Pro 3 Nursery Handicap (Class 2) – 7f

Newmarket maiden winner Modern Games improved again when ¾ length 2nd of 10 at Leicester last time. Nursery debut off a workable mark of 90 and looks a worthy market leader.

Sed Maarib is getting better with racing and won a Beverley novice last time. Another open to further progress now going handicapping.

Implore is more experienced than the other two. However, he made a solid nursery debut when runner-up at Sandown 18-days ago. The first-time blinkers are applied today and the yard is 1-1 with its runners in the race since 2011.

2:20 – British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes – 1m

Five of the 10 juveniles are unraced and the Gosden yard set a poser with two of the unraced runners in Frantastic & Israr. Both are well bred and should win races with Frantastic a full brother to Cracksman. Yard’s record with racecourse debutants at the meeting is 0 wins from 6 runners 2 placed.

Mark Johnson runs another newcomer in Triple Joy. The son of Kitten’s Joy is bred to win races and could go well.

Charlie Hills saddles racecourse debutante Beaches who has a likable pedigree.  A race that should be informative with the future in mind but not one that appeals from a betting perspective.

3:25 – Japan Racing Association Sceptre Fillies' Stakes (Group 3) – 7f

Just Beautiful was well placed to win her first four starts and wasn’t disgraced when a 2 ½ length 6th of 13 in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket. A reproduction of that effort would make her tough to beat here.

The admirable Highfield Princess continues in fine form and must be respected back against her own sex on her recent second to Space Blues in Group 2 at York.

Double Or Bubble was no match for Toro Strike in the Group 3 Supreme Stakes at Goodwood last time. The quick ground will suit her and she shouldn’t be far away back against her own sex.

Potapova, a Redcar winner, predictably struggled when upped to Group 1 company in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on just her third start.  However, she shaped much better when a 4 ½ length 4th of 10 in a Group 3 at Sandown last time. A return to quicker ground should suit the daughter of Invincible Spirit.

Loch Lein and Wren’s Breath come over from Ireland. The latter looked a nice prospect when winning a 6f Listed race at Naas 49-days ago. Coming to 2f out she was still last but once she hit the rising ground, she came home powerfully to win a shade cozily. That was just her second career start so she remains open to further improvement and given the way she finished off her race last time should stay 7f.

4:00 – Cazoo Scarbrough Stakes (Listed Race) – 5f

Arecibo is the one to beat if reproducing his 1 ¼ length 2nd of 16 in the King Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. However, he does need a strong pace to chase and it doesn’t look like he will get that here.

Tarboosh won this 12 months ago so can’t be ruled out on a C&D that suits but he’s struggled to find his best form so far this season.

Live In The Moment is another stepping up from handicaps. The 4-year-old was a progressive handicap sprinter in 2020. Just two starts this season but he looked as good as ever when a ¾ length 2nd of 22 at York last month. I was hoping he would go for the Portland Handicap so it’s interesting to see him run in a Listed race. A prominent racer he looks like he should get the run of the race.

4:30 – I Love Julie Parkes Handicap (Class 2) – 1m 2f

Faisal won his first two starts on the all-weather last season and continued winning ways when making a successful turf/handicap debut at Windsor in May. First start for 100-days but the 4-year-old remains open to plenty of progress.

Anmaat is a 3-year-old who is going the right way winning at Bath last month and is respected.

Maiden Castle goes well on good to firm ground. The 5-year-old returned from a 12-week absence with a neck 2nd of 15 at Sandown 17-days ago. He’s 3lb higher now but remains on a competitive mark.

Strait Of Hormuz bids for back-to-back wins in the race. Hasn’t been in the best of form on his last two starts, found a mile too short at Pontefract 5-days ago and probably wasn’t suited by the rain that fell prior to the race at York two starts back. Better judged on his ¾ length 3rd of 20 in the John Smith’s Cup at York.

5:00 – Visit Doncaster Handicap (Class 4) – 5 ½ f

Thirteen handicap sprinters are set to take meet the starter for what looks a tricky concluding race.  Wentworth Falls goes well here and on quick ground.  He comes into the race in good form after finishing a head 2nd of 10 in the Grey Horse Handicap at Newmarket 25-days ago. The 9-year-old style of running means he needs a strong pace to chase and luck in the run but if he gets it won’t be far away.

Rewaayat looked set for a good season when a 1 ¼ length 2nd of 11 behind Arecibo at Newmarket on his seasonal reappearance Not so good on his last two starts but today’s intermediate trip could well suit the 6-year-old. Likely to get a good tow into the race among the high numbers.

Al Simmo has been in great form this season, winning four of her five starts. Last time out she put in a career best when beating five rivals at Bath three weeks ago. Up 7lb in a deeper race but continued progress can’t be ruled out especially on quick ground.

Bomb Proof a winner of his first two career starts hasn’t really progressed on his six subsequent starts. However, he returned from a wind-op with an encouraging enough effort when 2nd of 9 at Kempton 17-days ago. If he builds on that performance the 4-year-old shouldn’t be far away for an inform yard.

If you want my selections for day one of the St Leger Festival and the rest of the week plus Irish Champions Weekend. You can get them here.

Wednesday selection:

Yesterday’s selection Sea Appeal was a non-runner. Let’s hope we can get a run from today's. I’m going against the likely strong favourite in the opening nursery handicap with Implore. The Gosden yard is 6 winners from 12 runners 50% +10.32 with its juvenile runners not making their racecourse debut at the meeting since 2016 which is a strong stat for the chances of the selection.


1:45 – Implore – 8/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes.

Good luck with your Thursday bets.


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