DONCASTER ST LEGER MEETING – DAY 1 (WEDNESDAY)

14:00 Doncaster We start the St Leger meeting with a Conditions Stakes over six furlongs. The Owen Burrows trained Akhlaaq looks to be the way the early market is leaning and you can see why. He made a winning debut at Salisbury despite running keen throughout. The form of the race is working out very nicely with many winners in behind. He’s a son of New Approach, so shouldn’t mind the ease in the ground. With two Mark Johnston horses in the race you’d expect there to be a good pace set, which should help him settle and give him something to aim at. He ticks plenty of boxes. Ernststavroblofeld is another who made a winning debut at Yarmouth and he did it in nice style with the way he quickened, going away from his rivals. That Maiden doesn’t have the depth of the race Akhlaaq ran in, so he will need to find a bit of improvement. He is a two year old to keep your eye on and take forward but today might not be his day with conditions on the slow side of good. Dream Of Dreams is a hard one to weigh up after being pulled up at York in the Group 2 Gimcrack. The issue couldn’t have been too serious with him returning to the track just 18-days later. He has the pick of the form in the book with a third in the Group 2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh. If running to that form in this grade he could prove too good but I still have reservations about what happened at York. Akhlaaq (WIN)

14:30 Doncaster One of the trickier races to decipher on the card is this Nursery over seven furlongs. Michael Bell trained the winner last year and he has a live chance this time around too. Notalot has won his last two at Chepstow when well backed and he’s done them in decent enough style. The second win came over the shorter six furlong trip where he ran with no cover but got the job done in easy fashion. This race is likely to have more strength to it but with Callum Shepherd taking 5lb off from the saddle he could go close once more. Andok was quite an impressive winner at Redcar on debut. He travelled well for a long way and Tony Hamilton had to sit tight hoping the gap appeared, which it did before he quickened away from his rivals. That was a taking performance first time up but he is unlikely to get as much cover in this smaller field plus there doesn’t look to be too much obvious pace. The fly in the ointment in a way is Our Charlie Brown. He had shown very little on his three Maiden starts but after being gelded and on handicap debut he looked a different character. The son of American Post did pull early on but got a nice pace set. James Sullivan was aware of the leader trying to kick for home and went with him with this juvenile responding very well to his urgings. On weights he has plenty to find but he looked more switched on at Musselburgh, so isn’t without a chance. Notalot (E/W)

15:00 Doncaster The Scarbrough Stakes is a Listed race over five furlongs and sees some dropping back from Group races meaning it could present them with a good opportunity. One of those is Pearl Secret for David Barron under the talented Oisin Murphy. This seven year old hasn’t won since May 2015 but has been contesting in some of the best races since then and running with credit. His last effort in a Listed race saw him win the Beverley Bullet off a mark of 113. He’s versatile on the ground, so there should be no issues there. William Haggas is a trainer in form with a 34% strike rate in the last two weeks. He saddles Muthmir who went close in this year’s Beverley Bullet beaten by a well-backed Alpha Delphini. He is two wins from two at this Yorkshire venue and is likely to go close to extending his unbeaten run. With the likes of Demora, Thesme and Equimou in the field, who all like to go forward then it could be set up for a closer. One at a huge price that can’t be discounted is Iffranesia. She was out of her depth in the Nunthorpe but back at this level can make her presence felt. She claimed a Listed race in Chantilly in November and went close at Tipperary last August. The mare has a course win, will handle conditions and could threaten from a high draw. Iffranesia (E/W)

15:35 Doncaster The Legends race at Doncaster was won by a certain Sir Anthony McCoy last year on board Gannicus. Favourites have won four of six renewals of this race, so currently Hijran comes here with a cracking chance, especially on the back of his Thirsk win. The handicapper has put him up 4lb for that success but there looked like there could be more to come from him however if it is in a race of this nature. Gay Kellaway is in the saddle and she went down by a nose in the 2013 renewal, so she’ll have the desire to win one of these. Three-time Champion Jockey Richard Hughes is on board Bluff Crag is a three year old that could have more to offer. He won on soft ground at Newbury three starts ago looking like he needed every yard of the mile. The Andrew Balding stable is flying, so has to be considered despite his in-out form. Sakhalin Star doesn’t have the best strike rate having only won twice from 47 starts however in a race that should be run at a good gallop could suit this five year old. He was last seen in July when going down by a nose over two furlongs further but the return to a mile could help get his nose back in front. This Richard Guest inmate should enjoy the cut in the ground and is 1lb lower than his last winning mark. Billy Newnes was second in this last year and could threaten to get his name on the honours board in this race. Pike Corner Cross is best seen to effect on the all weather, so if able to replicate any of that could have place claims whilst Red Charmer is an interesting contender. George Duffield rides for his wife Ann on this six year old, so he’ll know the horse inside out, which could be a boost for this sort of one off race. Sakhalin Star (E/W)

16:10 Doncaster Only a few are set to go to post in this seven furlong, three year old handicap. Three horses are vying for favouritism however Richard Hannon’s War Glory heads the betting. Two all-weather wins was followed up by a second placed finish at Chester last time but without any runs on soft going you’d be taking a step into the unknown by backing the favourite and as such I have to look elsewhere. Of the other short priced runners I prefer Stamp Hill over Roll On Rory due to his decent efforts on soft going previously. All this being said however the selection goes to Shanghai Glory. Trainer Charlie Hills has a great strike rate here at Doncaster and despite his charge failing here last time out that was on firmer ground. The horse clearly prefers softer going and gets his ground today and as such I hope he can takes his chance today. Shaghai Glory (E/W)

16:45 Doncaster The penultimate race on the card sees another small number of runners set to line up. Of the five runners scheduled to go to post I can only see two horses likely to find themselves in the winners enclosure. Mount Logan and Revolutionist seem to have the best chances to claim victory with the favourite (Mount Logan) now sitting below its last handicap mark and also holding a course win and a victory on soft ground. Revolutionist hails from the yard of Mark Johnston who loves a local winner here at Doncaster. Despite a trio of disappointing runs recently on the horses best form he should be able to mix in this sort of company and could push the favourite close. I have to side with the favourite though as the in-form Varian yard looks set to saddle the likely winner. Mount Logan (WIN)

17:15 Doncaster We end todays action with a very competitive five furlong sprint handicap. The market leader is three year old Charlie Hills runner Love On The Rocks. A very positive second placed finish at York last time out shows that she’s on the up and is a very likely improver. Silvestre De Sousa, still on the hunt for another Champion Jockey’s title, could go close under Brian Ellison’s seven year old Pea Shooter. The horse is ultra consistent however it doesn’t tend to go well on softer ground. With fourteen horses entered I’m not just picking one selection but two. The first goes to six year old Tylery Wonder who makes his debut under new trainer Paul Midgley who’s yard are firing on all cylinders with a 28% strike rate. A locally based trainer who will have his runner ready to go here and with previous form on soft going it should go well today. Tylery Wonder (E/W)

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