Last year’s race
- Winner: Powerful Breeze
- Jockey: James Doyle
- Trainer: Hugo Palmer
- Owner: Dr Ali Ridha
- Age: 2Weight: 9st 0lbs
- Starting Price: 6/1
- Season Form Figures: 31715
- Previous Best: 1st – Class 2 Fillies' Handicap, Newmarket (July 2019)
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.
By Paul Jones
The 2017 winner, Laurens, became the first to go on to win a Classic the following season since Reams Of Verse in 1996, her Prix de Diane success being one of six Group 1 victories. The 2018 winner, Fleeting, went on to be placed in the Oaks and Irish Oaks, so the quality of winner of late has been improvement on the years that had preceded it. Unfortunately last season’s winner, Powerful Breeze, has not been able to run this season as yet following an injury.
In short, look to either a last-time-out maiden/novice winner (won 11 of the last 28 runnings despite being readily outnumbered) or a filly which ran very well in the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes the previous month as six of the last 18 May Hill winners won or finished second in that Group 3 event).
With last-time-out maiden/novice winners faring so well, Powerful Breeze being the latest last year, we should not be surprised that lightly-raced fillies are those to concentrate on. Going back to and including 1993, just four winners had raced more than three times but, arguably more significantly, 15 of the last 22 winners were having either their second or third start.
Of the 11 most recent last-time-out maiden/novice winners, no less than seven recorded that success at Newmarket (Reams Of Verse, Karasta, Half Glance, Playful Act, Pollenator, Lyric Of Light and Powerful Breeze). Moreover, the 2002 May Hill winner, Summitville, also won her maiden at Newmarket before running second in the Sweet Solera also at Newmarket won this season by Star Of Emaraaty who caused a 66/1 upset beating Dubai Fountain. If the Kevin Ryan-trained filly completes the Sweet Solera-May Hill double then she will be emulating Nasheej, Rainbow View, White Moonstone and Certify since 2005.
Another key guide is the Prestige Stakes run in the final weekend of August at Goodwood won last season by Boomer who went on to finish second in the May Hill. In fact the 1-2-3 in the May Hill in 2016 also contested that Group 3 contest. However, there is one week less between the two races this season.
The May Hill Stakes was exported to Ireland in 2015, 2016 and 2018 with victories for Agnes Stewart (Edward Lynam), Turret Rocks (Jim Bolger) and Fleeting (Aidan O’Brien), all of which had previously been beaten in a group race in Ireland.
You would think that the Godolphin operation are likely to be gunning for a fifth win in 11 years following White Moonstone, Lyric Of Light, Certify and Ihtimal given that this is a race that they clearly like to aim a high-class filly at and John Gosden also has four wins to his credit. The Hannon stable have won two of the last 15 runnings and supplied the 2018 runner-up, Star Terms.
Being a mile race for two-year-olds, stamina plays a big issue with 21 of the last 23 winners having previously scored over at least seven furlongs beforehand.
Fleeting was a surprise winner two years ago at 12/1 as, prior to Pollenator’s win at 14/1 in 2009, the May Hill wasn’t a race for shock results. In fact, in victory Pollenator became the first filly to win at a double-figure price in over 30 years.
At a glance summary
- Last-time-out maiden/novice winner (especially at Newmarket)
- Win or placed in the Sweet Solera Stakes
- Beaten in a group race in Ireland last time out
- Having their second or third start
- Owned by Godolphin
- Trained by John Gosden or Richard Hannon
- Having their second or third start
- Failed to win over at least 7f
- Likely to start at double-figure odds