St Leger - At The Races

Northern Angle: St Leger Festival

    At The Races presenter Simon Mapletoft spotlights ten of the north’s dark horses over the four days of the William Hill St Leger Festival at Doncaster.


1.50 British Stallion Studs EBF Conditions Stakes (6f)

Karl Burke had options for this colt but elects to drop him in trip in this opening conditions race following a creditable performance in the 7f Group 3 Acomb Stakes at York’s Ebor Meeting. Whilst he probably paid the price for getting into an early duel, he at least proved he has an abundance of natural speed which will serve him well in this test. The son of Swiss Spirit showed his liking for Town Moor’s galloping straight when dominating a 7f novice stakes in July and will appreciate the ease in grade.


1.50 British Stallion Studs EBF ‘Carrie Red’ Nursery Handicap (61/2f)

Jedd O’Keeffe can expect a bold show from this good looking filly, who looks potentially well treated off a mark of just 79. She’s done little wrong in four career starts, finishing a promising second on debut at Thirsk before catching a hot novice over 6f here at Doncaster on her next outing, when she was less than three lengths behind subsequent Group 3 winner Comedy. This daughter of Dawn Approach swept aside more modest opposition at Ripon last month but never recovered from a poor start in a hot nursery at York’s Ebor Festival, despite being well supported, and can be forgiven that blip. This race has been on O’Keeffe’s agenda for a while.

2.25 William Hill May Hill Stakes (Group 2) (1m)

Frankie Dettori gets the call-up for Mark Johnston’s potentially smart filly, who came close to achieving Pattern success on her third and most recent start. She looked the likely winner of the 7f Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Glorious Goodwood when holding a clear advantage in the final furlong, only to be worn down in the dying strides. Previously successful in a 1m maiden at Goodwood, this Fillies’ Mile hopeful should appreciate the step up in trip and can find the necessary improvement for it to land a modest renewal, in preference to the Listed Flying Scotsman over 7f on Friday.

3.35 Weatherbys Racing Bank £300,000 2YO Stakes (61/2f)

Kevin Ryan won this big pot with 100-1 shot Morning Post five years ago and has a much more appealing candidate here in the improving maiden Rathbone. One of three representatives for the Hambleton stable, this colt came within an ace of landing a valuable nursery at York last month. The addition of cheepieces, which are retained here, may have helped him deliver a strong finish over 6f on the Knavesmire and he promises to be ideally suited by this additional 100 metres. What’s more, regular rider Tom Eaves will be going hungry. He has made the commitment to do “light” - just 8st 6lb - on the 88-rated son of Foxwedge, who is well in with many of his rivals on these terms.


1.50 Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes (Group 3) (7f)

This time last year Karl Burke’s filly won the ‘Carrie Red’ Nursery at Doncaster en route to a Group 3 success in Ireland, and continued her rapid progress when fading only late in the piece to be fifth to her illustrious stable companion Laurens in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile. Ellthea returns to Town Moor a fresh horse, having been kept away from the prevailing fast ground this summer. She confirmed her wellbeing in the spring when beaten only two lengths in the French Guineas and wasn’t helped by the drying conditions when little more than three lengths fifth in a Group 2 at Chantilly in June. The expected ease in the ground can help this daughter Kodiac of justify one of the highest ratings in the line up.

4.05 Weatherbys Global Stallions App Flying Scotsman Stakes (Listed) (7f)

This scopey son of Poet’s Voice has progressed with every run, making his experience count when landing the Convivial Maiden at York’s Ebor Festival. He will appreciate a mile next year, but is ideally suited by galloping tracks like this one and looks ready for a crack at better company. Karl Burke also had him in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes on Saturday but this Listed assignment looks the ideal stepping stone at this stage of his development. He will need to improve markedly to win this but has the credentials to leave his official rating of 87 well behind.

5.45 Coppers Marquees Classified Stakes (1m2f)

Victory at Ayr in June last year elevated this gelding’s mark to a career-high 100, which he has struggled to live up to ever since. However, he has dropped fully 15lb to an official rating of 85 which makes him a perfect candidate for a race of this nature. What’s more, the 10f trip on a big track is his optimum and he is likely to get his ground after being kept away from quicker conditions all summer. An eye-catching fifth at Ayr at the end of July, followed by another decent effort in a mudding race there, confirms him in good shape for a trainer who has enjoyed an outstanding season from his Malton base.


1.50 William Hill Portland Handicap (51/2f)

Reputation has never been blessed with consistency, as his record of just four wins from 32 starts illustrates, but there’s no denying his talent and his ability to win a big pot like this. John Quinn’s enigmatic gelding reminded us of his prowess at Ripon in the spring and has run two solid races in defeat since then, first of all behind track specialist Piper’s Note at the Garden Racecourse and then over this intermediate trip at Chester at the start of the month. Nudged up just 1lb for that return to form, Reputation is as big as 25-1 with some firms but is capable of out-running those odds with everything seemingly in his favour.

3.35 William Hill St Leger (Group 1) (1m61/2f)

Aidan O’Brien and Godolphin, who have won 10 Legers between them in the past two decades, again appear to hold all the aces with Kew Gardens heading the market for Ballydoyle and Great Voltigeur winner Old Persian spearheading this year’s challenge from the boys in blue. However, there is value to be had beyond the two super powers and Mark Johnston’s Dee Ex Bee looks the type who could cause an upset at double-figure odds.

This colt had the likes of Roaring Lion, Saxon Warrior and Kew Gardens in arrears when finishing second to Masar in the Epsom Derby, but simply hasn’t had the rub of the green since. He was unhappy on fast ground in the Irish Derby and in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, when he was third to Kew Gardens, and Johnston regretted the decision to declare in a small field for the Gordon Stakes on even quicker ground at Goodwood.

Crying out for a step up in trip on easier ground, this powerful colt will relish the test of stamina on Town Moor and will become an even more attractive proposition if further rain falls towards the weekend.

4.45 PJ Towey Construction Ltd Handicap (1m)

Prior to his defeat in a valuable 7f Ascot handicap last weekend, Breanski was proving quite a moneyspinner for Jedd O’Keeffe and his owners. Bought for just 25,000 gns at the July Sales, he had rattled off a hat-trick (one for previous trainer Brian Meehan) culminating in a 7f victory here at Doncaster. Resuming off a 4lb higher mark last time, he raced from the unfavoured part of the track but stayed on to finish a respectable fourth of 10 in the far side group. The four-year-old looks ready for this step up to 1m in what looks like being a less competitive handicap and can get back in the money in a race that will test his appealing credentials for next Spring’s Lincoln.