What are the best bets at Doncaster on Wednesday?
The Doncaster St Leger meeting gets under way this afternoon and here’s what might happen in the first four races on the card.
14:00 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Conditions Stakes, 6f
The meeting kicks off with a conditions sprint for juveniles (2.00pm) and I’m hopeful that AKHLAAQ can get favourite backers off to a flying start. Owen Burrows’ son of New Approach won a Salisbury maiden (6f, good to firm) on his debut only narrowly, but he earned the form comment ‘quickened smartly under hands and heels riding 100 yards out’ and the official winning margin of a half-length doesn’t do justice to his superiority. He should have learned a great deal for that experience and he can follow up here before tackling group company in the coming weeks. The one caveat being he has to prove he handles some cut with ‘good to soft’ forecast for day one.
Of his rivals, Battaash hasn’t run since finishing down the field in Royal Ascot’s Windsor Castle, while the form of Ernststavroblofeld’s maiden success has since been let down by the placed horses. Kevin Ryan’s Dream Of Dreams was pulled up in the Gimcrack and dismounted on course, so he’s presumably over whatever ailed him that day. He still has some fancy entries and may provide the biggest threat to the selection.
14:30 Owlerton Greyhound Stadium-Sheffield’s Top Night Nursery, 7f
Richard Hannon’s MUTAWATHEB could be the answer here as he won his maiden at Newbury on good to soft, so there are no worries over the ground, and we can forgive him a couple of defeats since. He wasn’t beaten far into fourth in a Listed race over this trip at Ascot in his next start and was then found out by the drop back to 6f when a keeping-on sixth (of 19) on his handicap debut. He was well backed before that race, suggesting I’m not the only one who thinks he’s on a good mark, and any losses can be recouped now he returns to 7f on an easier surface. Not to mention his stable has a good record with top weights in nurserys.
The main danger may come from Richard Fahey’s once-raced Andok, a winner of a Redcar maiden on his debut, the form of which was boosted when the second Kings Gift won again yesterday.
15:00 VIP Premium Vaping & E-Liquids Scarbrough Stakes (Listed), 5f
It’s tempting to give Muthmir another chance in the day’s feature as he’s the top-rated runner (albeit not by much) and is proven at a much higher level. However, he’s becoming expensive to follow and was beaten in a blanket finish at Beverley last time, a race he was entitled to win on the official figures. The current 4/1 is a decent carrot but I’m going to resist.
Nigel Tinkler’s supplies his the main market rival in the shape of THESME and she thoroughly deserves to get her head in front after a string of fine efforts in defeat this season, including when finishing fifth in the Group 1 Nunthorpe behind Mecca’s Angel last time. The worry with her, though, is the ground, as she was well beaten the only time she ran on a soft surface. However, there’s a fair chance the ground could dry out to good given the forecast and we should have a better idea of the conditions after the jockeys have come in after the first two races on the card. I’ll wait to back her until then.
Pearl Secret has struggled in top company since finishing an encouraging fourth on her reappearance at Haydock in May and she could do a lot better now dropping back in class. She’s likely got the Prix de l’Abbaye on his agenda, having finished fourth in that French Group 1 last year, and she’ll be carrying my money if the word ‘soft’ remains in the going description.
Equimou is most interesting of the rest as the sole juvenile runner in receipt of the weight-for-age allowance, but he too needs the ground to dry out as all his form is on good or faster.
15:35 Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes (Str), 1m
The Leger Legends race is a bit of fun for a cracking cause, the Injured Jockeys Fund, and makes little appeal as a betting medium. That said, there’s no harm in a small stakes punt and HIRJAN, one of just two last-time-out winners in the race (I’m not counting reserve Dark Wonder), ought to go close under Gay Kelleway, who is a regular in this contest (0-4) and still rides out at home. She won’t get many better chances of winning it as her mount is clearly in good form and won a shade more cosily at Thirsk (1m, soft) than the length and a quarter winning margin would suggest, having gone clear 2f out and then idled in front. She’s off to the sales shortly, being a well-bred daughter of Mastercraftsman, and another win here would do her price no harm.
Of the rest, you’ve not to respect the mounts of Richard Hughes and Joseph O’Brien (especially) as its not been long since they hung up their boots and the former should be able to get the best out of three-year-old Bluff Crag, who will appreciate this easier surface having disappointed twice on good ground since winning on soft at Newbury in June. O’Brien has the distinction of being the only Derby-winning rider in the line up and while his conveyance, Phosphorescence, has a long absence to overcome, he has some winning form on easy ground to his name and is sporting first-time blinkers. He could reward small each-way support.
While the Channel 4 cameras are absent this afternoon, you can still watch the action for free on Attheraces (channel 415). Alternatively, you catch at live stream at any of the bookmakers advertised on here, with just a small bet – £0.50 (£0.25 each-way) in the case of bet365 – required to watch.
Doncaster 2.00, Akhlaaq @ 5/2 Paddy Power
Doncaster 2.30, Mutawatheb @ 9/2 Hills
Doncaster 3.00, Thesme (on good or faster) @ 4/1 Betfair / Pearl Secret @ 11/2 bet365 (if soft appears in going description)
Doncaster 3.35, Hirjan @ 11/2 bet365 / Phosphorescence each-way @ 12/1 bet365