The opening contest to kick start this four day meetings sees the focus point towards a host of talented up and coming jockeys in this super competitive sprint race for Apprentice Jockeys.
Heading the market is the Jim Goldie trained Sound Of Iona who's had a fantastic season so far but has only picked up one victory in her last seven outings. I'd be a fool to dismiss her and although she's been consistent throughout 2022 she's not one for racking up numerous successes. I expect her upward trajectory to plateau a little in what looks a very tough race.
Course form here at Doncaster counts for a lot and although the seven year old Embour has never entered the winners enclosure at this venue he has produced some solid performances to finish 3rd, 4th and also 6th (in what was a 22 runner race). I'm convinced Ruth Carr's seven year old has a big run in him somewhere and his current double figure odds look too tempting to ignore.
As mentioned horses with form at this course is a massive plus so former course and distance winners Tipperary Tiger, Temple Bruer and The Green Man all deserve plenty of respect, especially as they're young enough to still find further progression. Although the trio don't make my final selections it'd come as no surprise if any of them were to produce a solid performance.
Another runner with a course success in the form book is Andrew Balding's Stone Of Destiny. The yard have a decent record at Donny and young jockey Harry Davies is perhaps the best riding talent of this young crop of jockeys. The winner of a similar race at this meeting two years back off a 10lb higher mark I feel despite a mixed bag of results this term he may have been laid out for this race as his seasonal target and with a decent draw should go close.
STONE OF DESTINY (E/W) written by Rory Paddock
Modern Dancer will no doubt be very popular for this nursery. The Charlie Appleby colt did his job very comfortably over course and distance on debut and followed that up with a clear second on the Knavesmire last time out. His opening handicap mark suggests he will have to settle better here today to take this contest and the extra experience other horses have here might prove better value.
The consistent Indian Dream will be a massive danger to the likely favourite. The gelded son of Sioux Nation has been ultra tough in defeat the last twice. Whilst he does look certain to be involved at the finish, he will have to do more to defy his 5lb higher mark and whist respected, I’m looking elsewhere here.
Finn’s Charm steps down into handicap company from listed class but the colt of Charlie and Mark Johnston will have to improve on a poor run last time out and will likely be setting the race up for a closer here under Jason Hart.
I’m going to take a chance on Out Of Shadows for this contest. Another who is stepping into handicap company for the first time, his mark looks very workable and the forecast rain will give him every chance to prove that he is better than he has shown thus far. Doncaster looks sure to suit him and this event may play straight into his hands.
OUT OF SHADOWS (WIN)
written by Tom Bates
15:00 Doncaster Although it's perhaps not the most prestigious in terms of the quality of runners the showpiece race on day one is this 'Leger Legends Race'. An opportunity for some well loved retired jockeys to come out of retirement for this one off spectacle. Former winning riders includes the likes of legendary jockey AP McCoy who showed that even without a fence in front of him and despite his hiatus from the saddle his class could still shine through.
Perhaps the biggest name in this years renewal is Kieran Fallon. Although his son is following in his father footsteps and doing a mightily impressive job in the process his 'old man' aims to roll back the clock aboard the current race favourite Shine On Brendon. We're only three races in and yet we're met with another Jim Goldie trained favourite. If you're on the hunt for the most likely winner then in all honesty I'd have to say this five year old is the obvious choice, however with a total of sixteen runners set to enter the stalls the punter in me is pleading for me to hunt down an each way alternative.
Fellow five year old Temper Trap has been in blistering form of late and is aiming to make it three wins on the bounce under Brian Harding. Disregard Tim Easterby's runner at your peril as the horse is another who shouldn't be far away,
Although this is labelled a legends race jockey Sammy Jo Bell is still a relatively young rider and in her time had a fantastic partnership with trainer Richard Fahey. She teams up with her old boss once more to partner Absolute Dream. The chestnut gelding produced an eye-catching performance to finish 3rd at Epsom in his most recent effort and should build upon that performance. He also finished third when last seen here at Doncaster so also has a liking for the track. A slight concern about the weight the horses has to carry but it's not something too insurmountable. Not the most obvious selection but worth a small play for punters looking for an each way alternative to the aforementioned favourite.
ABSOLUTE DREAM (E/W)
written by Rory Paddock
In a competitive Group 3 contest, slight preference is for Adaay In Asia. Harry Dunlop’s three year old has been in fantastic form over the summer, progressing upwards through the classes and also stepping up from six furlongs to seven, winning four in a row. This will be her toughest test to date but she’s unbeaten in three with Denis Hogan in the saddle and doesn’t yet look to have reached her peak so deserves her place in the line up and looks to hold a solid chance.
Novemba has contested some hot races but all have come over a mile and on occasion hasn’t always been the strongest in the finish so the drop back in trip could be just what is needed and she rates a live danger, with Umm Kulthum also considered given her liking for the forecast ground.
ADAAY IN ASIA (WIN)
written by Dean Kilbryde
Equilateral doesn't always look the hardiest when push comes to shove but the Charlie Hills trained seven-year-old will unlikely find an easier opportunity to get off the mark for the season and a reproduction of quite a few of his efforts will surely prove good enough. Proven over the course and distance and from a yard firing, his form claims look outstanding though he is priced up accordingly and any rain would raise something of a question mark.
Manaccan lost little in defeat when just worn down at Newmarket and he arrives here looking as progressive as any. Tactically quite versatile and unlikely to be bothered by what the weather does, he looks a likely player and this track may well suit.
King Of Stars was forced to race alone and he hung late in the day when looking a desperately unlucky loser at York two starts back. Since a fine third in the Beverley Bullet, he appears the pace angle here and it would be difficult to suggest any of the others are more deserving. Clearly still improving and a straight-forward type, he deserves serious consideration for this although he will almost certainly have to produce a career best.
Mo Celita progressed from winning a seller on her UK debut to winning in France at Listed level last term. Quite in and out thereafter, she served notice of a return to form when an eye-catching sixth at Newmarket last time and she may well be coming to the boil.
Union Court is one of two two-year-olds in this line-up and she easily makes more appeal than Can To Can. Twice a runner up recently and a fair fifth in the ''Super Sprint'', she looks worth trying against her elders and respect is afforded given all of her allowances. Lovely Mana and Attagirl have the ability to play a part but a chance will be taken on the rain arriving, which would further enhance the chances of Mo Celita.
MO CELITA (E/W)
written by Chris Connolly
X J Rascal has been running with a lot of credit recently for George Boughey and though it was a good effort here at Doncaster last time out, the form hasn’t been well advertised by the winner and though the step up to a mile should suit him, there are safer options today.
Grand Central wears a first time tongue tie and could be a potential improved for connections now handicapping. Ryan Moore climbs aboard here and he could easily be the answer here. There is a slight concern about the forecast rain however as he seemed to struggle on his only start on ground softer than good.
Shahbaz is probably unlucky to still be a maiden having bumped into a few above average horses so far in his career. That being said, his starting handicap mark doesn’t look overly generous based on his latest effort and he will need the step up to a mile to bring more out of him. That is very possible however, as is the return to grass where he ran arguably his best race to date on debut. I’m taking him each way here to defy top weight and to prove he is better than this class four affair with Harry Davies claiming a very useful 3lb here for Charlie Fellowes.
written by Tom Bates
Just Fine has raced well enough in some tough races so far this season, however to me hasn’t quite kicked on as expected. That said, he’s been dropped a further 2lbs by the handicapper and his stable have been in fantastic form in recent weeks so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see a better effort today.
Andrea Atzeni has ridden the winner of this race four times in the last six years, however his mount Legend Of Dubai has struggled since winning on re-appearance in April and now steps up in trip in the hope of finding some improvement.
For our selection we turn to Mujtaba who although hasn’t been seen to best effect so far this season he’s unexposed over this trip and will be suited by the ground conditions. Jockey Jim Crowley does well at the course and boasts a strike rate in excess of 50% when riding for trainer William Haggas over the last twelve months, so everything looks in place for a big run today.
written by Dean Kilbryde