If you are a racing fan, this is the beginning of a wonderful period. The William Hill St Leger Festival at Doncaster starts today with Legends Day and progresses through the week, the Listowel Races are in full flow, and we are only two days away from Irish Champions Weekend, and three days from the Arc Trials.
It’s a feast of top class racing and even if today’s action might pale in comparison there’s still a competitive card worthy of attention.
The pattern race of the day is the Listed DC Training And Development Scarborough Stakes at (3.00), where Global Applause makes the most appeal although what is a terribly trappy race is passed over. The same is true of the Legends Stakes at 3.35, and one of four selections comes in the opening Conditions Stakes (1.50).
Khaadem was third behind Calyx and the dual winner Octave at Newmarket on his debut and has since won impressive at Newmarket, taking a novice stakes by three and a half lengths. That was an easier opportunity than this but he had plenty in hand when recording a good time and can get the better of what looks a useful field, with Converter likely to improve after winning on debut at odds of 16/1 in taking style.
Alfie Solomons, second in a valuable sales race at York last time, arguably sets the form standard but is much more exposed.
The Owlerton Greyhound Stadium Nursery (2.25) is a race in which anyone of seven has a realistic chance but Hesslewood could be worth supporting again. Not much has gone right since a taking win at York on debut but James Bethell won this in 2013 and if he was considered good enough to go for York’s valuable nursery off 89 then he can prove well handicapped off 86. 7 furlongs and ground with cut are both risks, but at 16/1 they could be worth taking,
The EBF Breeders’ Series Fillies’ Handicap (4.05) might be the most informative and competitive race of the day, but if Crystal Hope can return to her early season form then she has every chance of proving to be the best handicapped horse here. On her seasonal debut she was a Sandown Novice Stakes, and the second and third home from that race were first and fourth in the Musidora Stakes.
On face value, she was well beaten when fancied for the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes in May, but the impressive winner that day was Sea Of Class, and second was Athena. Both are Group 1 winners now and Crystal Hope was not suited by the stop start gallop there either. Her recent run at Salisbury was disappointing, but a mark of 91 is surely within her reach and the step upto 12 furlongs could be a big help too.
In the William Hill Leading Racecourse Bookmaker Conditions Stakes (4.40) Afaak makes the most appeal on the basis that he handles easy ground, stays 10 furlongs, and has the best form with three big efforts in top handicaps at the summer’s big meetings.
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1.50 Doncaster – 2 pts win Khaadem (11/10 general)
2.25 Doncaster – 1 pt each/way Hesslewood (16/1 general)
4.05 Doncaster – 3 pts win Crystal Hope (7/2 general)
4.40 Doncaster – 2 pts win Afaak (13/8 general)