What are the best bets at Doncaster on Thursday?
The Doncaster St Leger meeting continues this afternoon and our racing exert has previewed the first four races on the card.
13:55 British Stallion Studs ‘Carrie Red’ EBF Fillies’ Nursery, 6f110y
With her stable in irresistible form and Ryan Moore booked, Glitter Girl will be many people’s idea of the winner and, indeed, she’s the bookies’ clear choice with no bigger than 5/2 on offer. However, the bare form of William Haggas’ filly is nothing to get too excited about as both her wins have come in low grade races at short prices, and furthermore this is the first time she has encountered ground easier than good to firm.
She’s opposable at the odds then and I’d much rather have a little on Charlie Hills’ ARWA at Sky Bet’s 15/2, with the firm offering the insurance of a free bet to the same stake (up to £25) should she finish second or third. It wasn’t a particularly strong maiden she won at Ripon Las time, admittedly, but she travelled nicely before quickening clear at the finish and her trainer, writing in his Weekender column, reckons she has improved since. Off what looks a fair mark of 84 and now stepping up to 6f, which should suit on breeding, she surely won’t be far away for a stable that targets this meeting.
You can make a case for several others – it’s a handicap after all – and Kevin Ryan’s Norwegian Highness, who stepped up on previous efforts when landing a Thirsk maiden last month and may have been let in lightly off just 73, could also make her presence. She’s one for each-way backers at 12/1 with Coral.
14:30 Clugston Construction May Hill Stakes (Fillies’ Group 2) (Str), 1m
Mark Johnston’s Kilmah put a disappointing York run behind her when making all in a Group 3 at Goodwood (7f, good to firm) last time (Rich Legacy in fourth and held) and, as a result, lines up here as the top-rated runner. However, she didn’t look in need of this extra furlong and that slight stamina doubt combined with the fact all her best form is on faster ground than she will encounter today makes her opposable at around the 7/2 mark.
Bookies are hardly giving away John Gosden’s BLENDING either, with Hills going a top price of 11/4 at the time of writing (as short as 9/4 in places). They are not daft of course and I’m going to put her up as the bet as I think she’ll win. A promising third on her Newmarket debut, she relinquished her maiden certificate when returned to that track on her next start and the placed horses have done their bit to advertise the form since – both the second and third have won, while the fifth was a close second in a decent race at Ascot.
With just a couple of starts under her belt, there should be more to come from the selection and she’s taken to land this prize under Frankie Dettori (25% on the stable runners) before a possible crack at the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile.
15:05 DFS Park Hill Stakes (Fillies’ Group 2), 1m6f132y
This is a cracking renewal of the ladies’ Leger with last year’s St Leger winner, Simple Verse, one of 14 to stand their ground. She’s nicely clear of her of her rivals on official ratings and has been freshened up since disappointing at Royal Ascot in June, so she must go close if back to her best. However, given that she’s failed to reach last season’s heights in three runs this term, she does have questions to answer now and I prefer to look elsewhere for the winner.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Abingdon was seriously considered as she’s an improving three-year-old filly and is getting plenty of weight from the older horses. The Galtres Stakes she won in good style at York last time has traditionally had a strong bearing on this, providing ten winners between 1978 and 2002, and her homework since has been top notch by all accounts. But she’s priced accordingly at just 5/2 and given that she has her stamina to prove (promises to stay) and has looked happiest on fast ground, I simply can’t put her up as a bet here.
There has to be some value elsewhere and I’m going to take a punt on Ralph Beckett’s supposed second-string ALYSSA making a successful transition from handicap company – as was the case with her stablemate Simple Verse 12 months ago, who graduated from winning a Salisbury handicap to Group and Classic honours. By coincidence, that Wiltshire track was the scene of Alyssa’s latest success, making it three on the bounce, and it was over this trip. More is needed here, admittedly, but her trainer believes she’s still improving and is optimistic about her being competitive, so I’m happy to take the 10/1 on offer at Paddy Power to find out.
15:40 Weatherbys Hamilton 300,000 2-Y-O Stakes, 6f 110y
One of those valuable sales races with inflated prize money on offer – winning connections will pocket £147,540.00 – and you can bet that all the 22 runners are trying. Most have winning form to their name and are likely still improving, making it a minefield for punters.
However, I’m sticking to my guns as SPIRITUAL LADY, bet365’s 5/1 favourite, has been in my tracker for a good while, with this race earmarked as her target after she crossed the line in front at Chelmsford in early August, when seeing off some good sorts. That could prove a shrewd move by her trainer Philip McBride as she gets in off the lowest weight (8st 1lb) courtesy of the way the race is framed and her fillies’ allowance. Her only defeat in three runs came in Newbury’s Super Sprint, when fifth of the 23 runners, and that gives her valuable big-field experience. There’s more to like as she’s reunited with Silvestre De Sousa and he will be riding at his lowest weight in the last 12 months.
I’m just hoping that her low draw – she’s been handed stall 21 – doesn’t scupper her chances and for that reason I’m going to have a saver on Richard Hannon’s Stormy Clouds (7/1 Paddy Power) as she too gets in off a low weight, has thrived since the fitting of blinkers, and is drawn on the other side of the track in stall 21.