What a fantastic weekend of racing. If you didn’t get excited by all the great action, then you never will. Granted if I hadn’t had two profitable days, shared with Victor Value subscriber, then perhaps I wouldn’t be so effusive in praise for what I saw over the weekend.
On Saturday the St Leger was won by the favourite Hurricane Lane. Meanwhile across the Irish Sea dramatic and exciting finishes were the order of the day on day one of Irish Champions Day at Leopardstown. The most notable of them was the performance of St Mark’s Basilica in winning the Irish Champions Stakes at Leopardstown.
Inside today’s main piece you can read my thoughts on Saturday’s St Leger, the Irish Champion Stakes and also the defeat of The Queen’s Reach For The Moon in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.
In Tuesday column’s I will look back at the two big juvenile Group 1’s run at the Curragh on Sunday.
Its back to moderate fare on Monday but I have a selection from this evening’s meeting at Kempton.
Double hurricane hits Doncaster
The rain arrived on Friday and turned the Doncaster going to good to soft for St Leger Day.
A hurricane won the final colts classic and another one Hurricane Ivor defied a low draw to win Saturday’s Portland handicap at Doncaster.
It was a tremendous weight carrying performance by the top-weight. The 4-year-old had finished a close-up, perhaps unlucky, third in a big handicap at York on his previous start and had been shaping like he would land a big handicap pot.
A stiff 5f or easy 6f suits him ideally, as does a bit of cut in the ground. He will no doubt run in Group races next season and should do well when he gets his optimum conditions.
Hurricane Lane outclasses Leger rivals
Irish Derby winner Hurricane Lane was sent off a strong favourite in the final English classic of the season.
Hollie Doyle sent Interpretation to the front and set even fractions until being headed by Mojo Star three out who went for home. However, your eyes were drawn to Hurricane Lane. He had travelled superbly through the race. Jockey William Buick sent him in pursuit of the leader and headed Mojo Star before surging clear between the final two furlongs to run out a comfortable winner. To his credit Mojo Star stayed on to get within 2 ¼ lengths of the winner at the line. He saw out the 1m 6f trip well and could easily make up into a Cup horse next season. The Mediterranean did best of the Aidan O’Brien trained runners back in third and is another who has the scope to develop over staying distances next year.
The disappointments of the race were Ottoman Emperor who probably didn’t stay on the rain softened ground. Sir Lucan who never got into the race and stablemate High Definition who put in a third successive poor performance. Will he race again?
The winner's class that got him home on Saturday. He was a different class to his rivals and he’s a better horse over shorter.
What next for the winner?
Hurricane Lane is the best horse to run in the St Leger since Camelot failed in his Triple Crown attempt in 2012. And it was good for the race that such a top-class colt won.
He could go for the Arc but there isn't much recovery time and I think the race might have taken more out of the colt than it looked. I’m would love to see connections keep him for the Champion Stakes. Granted that’s over 1m 2f but its often run on soft ground and he doesn’t lack speed. Going to Ascot would also give him a couple more weeks to get over Saturday’s race.
No Champagne for Queen’s colt
Reach For The Moon was sent off the 8/13 favourite for the Group 2 Champagne Stakes on Saturday. The Queen’s colt had looked an exciting prospect after winning at Sandown on his previous start.
Sadly, for favourite backers he couldn’t deliver. The small field meant he had to make the running and although he got the run of the race out in front, he just couldn’t see off his rivals. Although he did rally after being headed inside the final furlong. He was put firmly in his place by the winner Bayside Boy.
A better run race would have suited the winner. And he's clearly a smart colt and could well head to the Dewhurst Stakes for his next start.
The big disappointment of the race was second favourite Lusail. The Gimcrack winner was the first beaten and the sticky ground didn’t suit him it all. He will do better back on sound surface and in a more evenly run race.
It’s too quick to write off Reach For The Moon. The ground likely didn’t suit him and he probably wasn’t at his best on the day. A step up to mile in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket will hopefully see him in a better light.
Irish Champions Weekend – Part 1
Crowds were back on an Irish racecourse in big numbers on Saturday for the first time since March 2020. There was a sell out 4,000 crowd at Leopardstown for first day of Irish Champions Weekend and it was great to see.
The highlight of Saturday’s card was the Irish Champion Stakes. There were only four runners and it was expected to be a tactical affair but it still produced a thrilling finish.
Outsider Patrick Sarsfield went to the front but only set steady fractions and the race turned into a two-furlong sprint to the line. Poetic Flare was nicely placed behind the leader and was the first to go for home.
Meanwhile Ryan Moore opted to bring St Mark’s Basilica towards the centre of the track. It was a good move as he clearly didn’t want to go head-to-head with Poetic Flare in the finish. Moore allowed his mount to drift right which did no favours for Tarnawa who had to race even wider in the final furlong.
The tactical nature of the race suited St Mark’s Basilica who has a good turn of foot, as he had shown when winning the Coral Eclipse. Just ¾ length separated the big three at the finish with St Mark’s Basilica holding off Tarnawa with Poetic Flare nose back in third.
Tarnawa set for Arc Glory
Tarnawa lost nothing in defeat. She just didn’t have the tactical speed of the winner at this distance. A better horse over 1m 4f she must have a fantastic chance in next months Arc. A race which has been her target all season.
Poetic Flare is a real battler. He stayed the 1m 2f distance and given he raced in isolation away from the first two it was a tremendous effort. Who knows what would have happened if he had raced closer to the winner in the final stages of the race? There’s likely another big win in him back before the season ends.
For the St Mark’s Basilica, who had to survive a stewards enquiry, it was a 5th Group 1 success and for me he’s the best 1m 2f horse in Europe. Will there be a final race for him or will he be retired to take up stallion duties?
Not the best of days from a punting perspective and just about best of the action looks to be on the all-weather at Kempton.
7:45 – Spring Glow won a fillies handicap at Wolverhampton in April, off 2lb lower, comes into this race on the back of a neck 2nd of 11 over C&D 19-days ago. Up 4lb for that effort but if she’s in the same form as last time shouldn’t be far away.
Spring Glow – 13/2 @ Coral & Ladbrokes.
Good luck with your Monday bets.