I suggested to Matt Chapman on Sky Sports Racing earlier this week that victory for Pyledriver in Saturday’s St Leger would be the story of the season. For one so cheaply bought with apparently some of the sport’s most powerful players turning their nose up at him, what William Muir has achieved already this year is tremendous.
I’ll be cheering for him on Saturday but am also looking forward to the following horses running this week. Bear in mind that there is barely a drop of rain forecast for this week so there is every chance we will be racing on nice quick ground, conditions that many of the horses below should thrive on.
Watch every race of the Pertemps St Leger Festival 2020 live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) from Wednesday 9th to Saturday 12th September.
In the bet365 Portland Handicap over five and half furlongs, an old favourite WENTWORTH FALLS is set for a return to Doncaster for an eighth time and for a third crack at this famous old race. I know his prep run at Ripon appeared to be underwhelming but so was his effort before last year’s Portland, where he sat plum last until making up astonishing late ground, eventually finishing like a bullet to be fifth to Oxted. He had done similar the year before when third to A Momentofmadness and its great to welcome him back for another go. He will of course be held up but if this time it can be mid-pack rather than right at the back, he could easily get in the shakeup once again.
Trainer Richard Hannon always seems to do well at this meeting and I will be saving a few quid until late on Saturday to take a play on hisFLOATING ARTIST who holds an entry in the last race of the meeting, the Magners Dark Fruit Cider Handicap over a mile and a half. He has never been the easiest to predict, his two victories to date have been achieved at 25/1 and 10/1 but I think we will see a more consistent horse now that he has been gelded. His one run since that operation came at Windsor behind Australia-bound Le Don De Vie but he would have disliked the soft ground there and this week’s drying conditions should really help him excel. A decent horse and a fair old bet in Saturday's finale.
Karl Burke’s talented youngster SPYCATCHER should be noted in whichever of the seven-furlong races he eventually runs in. Whilst Saturdays bet365 Champagne Stakes will clearly be tough, Friday's bet365 Flying Scotsman looks the easier assignment. However, if it is to be the Champagne Stakes, I would take that as a huge positive. Burke has had an excellent year once again with his flagship two-year-old Dandalla and Spycatcher could also be out of the top draw. I loved the way he travelled at York in the Acomb Stakes, looking all quality until just overhauled by Gear Up very late on. That was a significant improvement on his debut and similar gains into this his third start should yield further improvement. Of all the two-year-olds running this week, he is the one I’m looking forward to most of all.
Nigel Tinkler has his horses in top gear going into the St Leger Festival and ‘I’m itching to see if UBETTABELIEVEIT can bounce back in Friday’s Flying Childers Stakes after having taken a heavy defeat at York last time out. Tinkler is convinced that we can put a line through that form as the ground had become quite tacky. Ubettabelieveit is making a return trip to Doncaster having been wildly impressive at the track in late June when finding a delicious turn of foot to slam the talented Digital (watch for him in Thursday's big sales race). He has such a quick action that I buy the York excuses and cannot wait to see him on a slicker surface this week. An exciting sprinter. Keep an eye out for Tinkler's Acklam Express who holds two entries this week as well.
CALCULATION is back at Doncaster after his brilliant win here last summer, this time having a crack at Friday afternoon’s bet365 Mallard Handicap. This son of 2013 Ascot Gold Cup winner Estimate was always going to improve for the step up in trip and consequently enjoyed a fine 2019 rising quickly through the handicap ranks. He has been lightly raced this year, blowing away the cobwebs at Newmarket before a step back in the right direction with a fine effort at Sandown, clearly enjoying the return to 1m 6f. He could easily improve a bundle again and I’m sure he will be competitive.
Two more horse who ran well here at Doncaster last time out are GHALYOON and course specialist BREANSKI. I’m clearly hoping they avoid each other this week. They contested the same race here behind Magical Wish three weeks ago and although Breanski showed up well to a point, Ghalyoon was certainly the horse to take from the race. He stormed through the line there, in what was only his fourth race ever, and he could improve bundles for that. It’s worth remembering he finished second to John Gosden's Falmouth Stakes winner Nazeef in a maiden at Newmarket last year. In my opinion, Ghalyoon could be the best-handicapped horse of the week. His entry is in Friday afternoon's 6 1/2 furlong handicap.
What a sensational opener to look forward to as LOGICIAN, brilliant winner of last year’s St Leger, makes his comeback in the first race of the day, the Sky Sports Racing 415 Conditions Stakes. He has clearly scared most of the opposition away, but this is all about spectacle rather than betting and his prescence on the card gives the whole meeting such a fantastic boost at the start of day two. It’s very interesting that he starts his truncated year (troubled by an infection early on in 2020) over a mile and a quarter, given that we know he stays so well. So good to see him back.
Gosden can enjoy further success in Thursday’s bet365 May Hill Stakes with his impressive Yarmouth winner INDIGO GIRL making a very swift return to action in what is clearly a much tougher race. Gosden won this with Rainbow View in 2008 who was more experienced than Indigo Girl. The same remark applies to his three other winners of the race so its intriguing that Gosden feels Indigo Girl is worth a shot on just her second start. She could be special.
Finally, on Thursday, I’m expecting a big run from Sir Michael Stoute's VIVIONN in the bet365 Park Hill Stakes. We last saw her in the Galtres Stakes over a mile and a half and all she did there was stay and stay again. I’ve been looking forward to this day when she at last steps up in distance and I really feel it will be the making of her. The icing on the cake would be if they made the running on her; she seemed to really enjoy life when those tactics were employed when she won a handicap here last summer.