What are the best bets at Doncaster on Saturday?
The St Leger, the oldest Classic, is one four Doncaster races being shown live on More4 and our racing expert has marked your card.
14:00 At The Races Champagne Stakes (Group 2), 7f
William Haggas’ Rivet hasn’t been put in as 11/10 favourite and it’s easy to see why as he was a taking winner of a valuable maiden on the Knavesmire last time and his stable has been in unstoppable form, with 14 winners already on the board this month. However, the York form has been devalued somewhat by subsequent defeats for the fourth, fifth and sixth, and we also have to factor in the real possibility of a going change given the forecast for rain Friday evening into Saturday. A soft surface might not stop him but it’s a worry nonetheless given he’s yet to race on faster than good, and on balance he’s opposable at the odds.
Saeed bin Suroor’s Thunder Snow is next in the betting and his second to War Decree at Goodwood when last seen out rates solid form. However, he didn’t look happy on slow ground when a well beaten sixth in the Coventry previously and I’ve similar concerns about Richard Hannon’s Newbury winner, Majeste.
It could therefore pay to take a chance on the other Godolphin representative, the Charlie Appleby-trained D’BAI. It was only a short head that separated him and Hydroxide (a close second here on Thursday) when getting off the mark in a Newmarket maiden last time. However, I liked the way he travelled in that contest and then, having eased off when hitting the front, battled back when headed to get up near the line. That willing attitude will stand him in good stead in this better race and Appleby usually runs his best two-year-olds in it, winning two of the last three renewals.
William Buick, who steered stablemate Emotionless to victory 12 months ago, gets the leg up and, while his mount is another unproven on soft ground (assuming that’s the case), we don’t need to have much on at BetVictor’s 9/1 to find out.
14:35 Ladbrokes Portland (Handicap), 5f 140y
As usual, this is ultra competitive with 22 set to go to post. The class act amongst them is Double Up who represents last year’s winning stable and deserves serious respect now dropping back into handicap company after not being totally disgraced in the Group 1 Nunthorpe last time, although he’s 7lb higher than for his last success at this level and may be vulnerable to a better handicapped rival.
There are several who might fit that bill, but none appeal more than the Kristin Stubbs-trained SOIE D’LEAU, who has been progressive over the last two seasons and is coming off a career-best at Haydock last Saturday, when holding off Confessional in a tight finish. That was on soft ground, so the forecast rain is no worry, and it was a just reward for what looked an unlucky defeat at Sandown previously. He doesn’t quite get home over 6f as he showed when fading into seventh (of 28) in the Stewards’ Cup consolation race, and this intermediate trip is probably ideal for him. His small stable has sent out just eight winners in 2016, but half of those have come on the last fortnight and that clinches the each-way bet at bet365’s 18/1, with five places up for grabs.
The aforementioned Confessional is slightly better off with the selection, so he should again be on the premises, while JUDICIAL won quite cosily over this trip at Chester last time and looks to be on the upgrade. Julie Camacho’s four-year-old likes to be dropped in off a strong pace, which is guaranteed here, so it’s hard to resist a little each-way on him too at 18/1 with the Stoke-based firm.
15:10 Saint Gobain Weber Park Stakes (Group 2), 7f
Richard Pankhurst hasn’t been the easiest to train and doesn’t always give everything in a finish, but he did everything right when coming with a powerful late surge to land a Group 2 at Newbury last time. He could possibly go on from that, although the 9/4 on offer doesn’t really excite given his patchy record and he wouldn’t want too much rain.
On the other hand, a drop or two of the wet stuff won’t inconvenience TOORMORE one bit and Richard Hannon’s charge looks the value bet at Hills’ 9/2. A winner of a Group 2 at Sandown on his reappearance back in April, he has been taking on the best over a mile since and was far from disgraced when finishing fourth in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes behind the The Gurkha. He can definitely win again over that trip but his high cruising speed means he’s just as effective over this trip and his rider James Doyle, who has won on him twice previously, might just enjoy an easy time of it up front. It’s not ideal he carries a penalty, meaning he’s giving weight away to all bar the favourite, but none of his rivals can match his form and look up against it.
15:45 Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series), 1m6f 132y
Clearly, Aidan O’Brien’s Idaho has very strong claims in the final Classic of 2016 having already proved himself at the highest level – he has been placed in two Derbies – and won the Great Voltigeur, a key trial over 1m4f, with something to spare from his reopposing stablemate Housesofparliament. However, he’s priced accordingly at odds-on (5/6 best with Sky Bet) and with lingering doubts over his stamina, which will be tested to the full if the ground turns soft as seems likely, he is opposable.
The obvious alternative is John Gosden’s Muntahaa, who is a general 5/1 second favourite. An easy winner of a Kempton maiden back in early June, he was progressed nicely since, running a close third in a Group 2 at Royal Ascot before beating older horses under a big weight in a Chester handicap last time. He needs to step up again but that’s entirely possible given he’s lightly-raced and the fact his trainer takes this Classic seriously, winning it four times.
However, with nine runners and Idaho bossing the market, there’s real scope for an each-way bet on one at a big price and Laura Mongan’s HARBOUR LAW looks capable of beating several better-fancied rivals home given he’s a strong stayer and will appreciate every drop of rain that falls. A winner of handicaps at Salisbury and Sandown earlier in the season, he was beaten less than a length when second behind Sword Fighter in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot (2m, good to soft) and that horse is less than half his odds due to his connections, being a third Ballydoyle representative. The drop back to 1m5f seemed to find him out on his next start at Newmarket, though he was only beaten four lengths into fourth, and he has been kept fresh for a crack at this. Let’s take bet365’s 33/1 as they are alone in offering one quarter the odds, and include him in a dual forecast with Idaho (by far the most likely winner) for added insurance.
2.00, D’bai @ 9/1 BetVictor
2.35, Soie D’Leau each-way @ 18/1 bet365 / Judicial each-way @ 18/1 bet365 – five places on each
3.10, Toormore @ 9/2 Hills
3.45, Harbour Law each-way @ 33/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3) / Harbour Law-Idaho dual forecast