Good morning all,
Final day of the St Leger Festival, and after the heavy rain that did indeed fall at Doncaster yesterday, the ground is just on the easy side of good now.
Here’s my thoughts on the four ITV races, including the ever-competitive Portland Handicap, which kicks things off at 1.45.
1.45 – Portland Handicap
The question is whether I think Hurricane Ivor is potentially G1 class, as he’ll need to be if he’s to hump 9-10 here. Yes, classy sorts have won this under big weights in the past – Muthmir, Oxted to name but two – but it will be some performance from Hurricane Ivor. Here’s the thing – I think he might actually be next year, as he’s just taking a bit of time to acclimatise with William Haggas, but at 6-1 I can watch him win without my money on.
There’s a fair spread of pace across the track, possibly a bit more among the low numbers but it ought not inconvenience anyone, and I have to give Embour another mention at least. I worry that there’s no cheekpieces on, but I’ve thought for a while there’s a big handicap in him this autumn and it could be here. I suspect it might be at Ayr, but all the same, he runs this track well, the ground should be fine and I’ll have to have a small saver.
And if I’m backing Embour then Intrinsic Bond goes on the shortlist too. They have form that ties them together fairly closely, has been in good form (landed us a bit of each-way money in the Great St Wilfrid) and I’m happy to forgive a slightly below par effort at Thirsk last time as he pulled hard. This intermediate trip, with an almost guaranteed strong pace, could be ideal on ground he clearly goes well on, and he looks overpriced too.
Jawwaal’s Doncaster record isn't to be overlooked, but I do think quicker ground would have been in his favour. He has an obvious chance but again, the price looks short enough now.
2.20 – Champagne Stakes
Four runners for a big Saturday race is a bit shambolic, if I’m honest. I say that knowing it’ll happen dozens of times during the jumps season, but something needs to be done.
I wouldn’t touch Reach For The Moon with counterfeit here. Yes, he’s been impressive but I’ve seen him get very coltish pre-race at Newbury and that alone would be enough to put me off. Plus, he might have to make his own pace here, and that could leave him vulnerable too.
I realise Lusail has to give him a penalty for his G2 wins but all the same, there’s a bit more substance to his form and the gap between the two is simply too big in the market. Lusail small win bet at 9-4 and bigger.
3.00 Doncaster – Park Stakes
I’m quite keen on the chances of Owen Burrows’s Danyah here.
Fourth in the Lincoln at the start of the year, he has definitely improved for the drop back down to 7f on last two starts and gets another chance to dominate this small field.
He’s been given a small break since winning the Moet & Chandon, which is probably ideal, the yard continue in good form, I don’t see the ground being a problem and he can make all again.
3.35 Doncaster – St Leger
And so to the big one. There’s been some talk has been of High Definition’s supplementary entry, along the lines of “they wouldn’t be bothering unless…” and I get that, but the bottom line is that unless the cheekpieces have absolutely transformed him, he’s very slow, and has already been beaten by one or two of these this year.
That includes favourite Hurricane Lane, who looks the winner on all known form – if he stays. To that end, there’s plenty of stamina in the pedigree on the dam’s side and I don’t see stamina being an issue.
However, the race for the places looks plenty open enough, and although he hasn’t got the scope for improvement that one or two of them have at this stage, Youth Spirit is solid, will stay and the drop of rain that fell yesterday is in his favour. I’ve always considered him a stayer and nothing he did when third in the Great Voltigeur convinced me otherwise. 25s looks a fair each-way price to get involved with. Only a shame we aren’t getting four places, but if you have a 365 account then the 12-1 each-way without the favourite makes plenty of appeal too.
Today’s selection – Youth Spirit (each-way) 3.35 Doncaster
Good luck with all your bets today,