Doncaster Preview and Tips
1.50 William Hill Portland Handicap (Class 2) (3yo+): Wentworth Falls hasn’t had the best of luck this season – as is typical for a horse who so often comes from behind – but he ought to get a proper gallop and it’s clear that large fields suit, as he won a 22 runner handicap here last April when given mountains of ground to make up. It’s easy to forgive his defeats in small fields at Thirsk and Nottingham and with more pace upfront it’s possible he might have been able to Musicka last time.
Many others make appeal, but Blue De Vega was winning at Ascot only a couple of months ago and that was only off a 1lb lower mark. It was good to firm there but this surface, quickening all the time, should suit him and perhaps this ground will be better for him than the heavy surface as Haydock was last week.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Wentworth Falls (18/1 Paddy Power, 16/1 general), 1 pt each/way Blue De Vega (16/1 general)
2.25 – Alan Wood Plumbing And Heating Park Stakes (Group 2): Not strong for a Group 2 and if Mustashry copes with the drop-in trip to 7f for the first time then he’s got much the best form thanks to his second at York in the Strensall Stakes. He was travelling well enough two out to suggest he could have coped with this trip at York and he appears to be improving still.
D’Bai’s form at the top level (sixth in the July Cup and the Maurice de Gheest) gives him a fair chance here and he’ll be thereabout. Breton Rock could have done with more rain and Oh This Is Us was back to winning ways at Chester, although his record above Group 3 level doesn’t read as well as others here. Dutch Connection had a poor draw at Goodwood and could go better here. Above The Rest, Tomyris, Unfortunately and Raydiance.
Advice: 1 pt win Mustashry (3/1 general)
3.00: Howcroft Industrial Supplies Champagne Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1): Strong juvenile form given that four of these have won in Group company, three of them doing so last time, and Too Darn Hot’s Solario win was so impressive that he’s deserving of a 1/2 quote here. The Classic favourite towers over the field in both style and substance. Dark Vison’s late burst to pass the Vintage field was impressive visually, but the main threat could come from Phoenix Of Spain, who produced a sustained late burst to take the Acomb Stakes at York.
The form of that race has suffered some knocks since but he had more in hand than the winning margin suggested and it’s not impossible to imagine him progressing again. Van Beethoven didn’t get much of a run in the Vintage Stakes and could improve but he might be exposed by now and wasn’t cost victory by that interference. The fact his yard are in better form should help the chances of him and stablemate Cardini, who took a Curragh Nursery at the sixth try. Bye Bye Hong Kong is from the in form yard of Andrew Balding and has to be respected.
3.35 – William Hill St Leger Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series): Lah Ti Dar’s late switch here has given a fantastic amount of spice to the race and John Gosden’s tremendously talented filly can take the Classic. So impressive was her victory in the Galtres Stakes, a brilliant return after missing the summer, that she was mooted for the Vermeille and Arc and in the hands of other connections, she might well be going there.
Followers of these pages and listeners to the On The Hunt Podcast will know that Southern France has long been a fancy for a decent prize and we have not yet seen the best of Aidan O’Brien’s charge. He was a staying on second in the Queen’s Vase behind Kew Gardens, but everything that could go wrong did go wrong early and he did well to take second from his position around the home turn. Still inexperienced then, he ran green when asked to make his challenge (having been passed by Kew Gardens before the race started in earnest) and was outsped when the race began but once he got himself balanced he passed the rest of the field and showed huge promise.
He was then hit by the bug that has affected all of Ballydoyle in the summer, he made a low key reappearance in the Irish St Leger trial when once again given a fair bit to do, but the form of the leaders there was solid and he ought to strip much fitter for that.
Doncaster should really suit him along with a strong pace and we could see the very best of him, making him interesting at 14/1, with 12/1 each/way available for four places at Sky Bet.
Old Persian’s defeat of Kew Gardens is the best form in the race and both ought to be key players with Kew Gardens likely to reverse the form on 3lbs better terms over this trip. Godolphin’s Loxley, a really impressive winner of the Grand Prix de Deauville when last seen, is a key threat and could perhaps be the best of their pairing, which would give him a serious chance. He olds Raymond Tusk on that form.
De Ex Bee’s Derby form gives him a great chance but he’s been exposed since and might find others improving past him whilst Maid Up should be watched, for all that her Park Hill Stakes second and Group 3 win have taken knocks this week.
Zabriskie doesn’t look a likely stayer on all evidence, The Pentagon has become disappointing, and Proschema needs to step up from handicap.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Southern France (14/1 general, 12/1 SkyBet), 2pts win Lah Ti Dar (2/1 general)
Rest of card: Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum was denied a big race winner with Cape Bryon last week but in the shape of Britannia winner Ostillo and the promising Dubawi Prince, he has strong chances in both the P J Towey Construction Ltd Handicap (4.45) and Cliff Stud Rearing Winners Handicap (5.55). The Napoleons Casinos & Restaurants Nursery Handicap (4.15) is a tight race but The Trader is much better than he showed in a listed contest at Newbury last time and he could just be the one, although no horse stands out as a bet.