A 6 1/2F nursery to kick start the Thursday card of this year’s Leger meeting and it we will see what I consider to be my best bet of the week. Bonny Angel being the horse in question, she got the hang of things late on handicap debut at Leicester over 6F, she benefited from a strong pace that day and the likelihood of the same today will be certainly suit. She was raised 5lbs for that win but with the pace looking to be strong again and an extra half furlong today she will take all the beating.
Of the others Cathy Come Home rates as the biggest danger she blew away her rivals on debut at Musselburgh before running respectably at Group 3 level, she then perhaps was disappointing at York when only managing to finish ninth in a nursery. If she gets back to the level of the debut, she will be a threat to all although she has weight to give away all rounds.
BONNY ANGEL (WIN)
written by Michael Taylor
Another race for 2yo’s over the same 6 1/2F as the first race on the card, although this time a sales race where the weights are determined by sales price rather than the handicapper. So, that leaves a few of these harshly treated on their abilities because they were more expensive but at the opposite of that scale Waiting All Night and Legend Of Xanadu look to be have good chances going by their official figures. Legend of Xanadu is rated 94 but he will be having his tenth start today and although he has a chance on the official figures, he would be disappointing winner as he is exposed. Waiting All Night won on debut but has then since raced at Stakes level on his next five starts, he would have an each-way chance today but again vulnerable for win purposes.
Seemingly unfancied on her debut Magical Sunset put in a very promising display on the night but that has been further enhanced since the runner-up Sakheer despatched a field at Haydock by 6L. Richard Hannon targets this race and he looks to have a done it again with this filly, given how Hannon’s horses usually take a reasonable step forward first to second run she will be the one for me.
MAGICAL SUNSET (WIN)
written by Michael Taylor
Now for the best 2yo race on the card with the Group 2 May Hill Stakes for fillies over a mile, the mile trip should certainly suit Frankness for Andrew Balding. She has been confined to 7F so far in her three starts but has progressed each time and will no doubt step forward again and collect some black type. Crystallium is the one in the field we know least about having just had the one start so far, but she overcame greenness to power away late on to win that debut. She may well be up to this level but she will need to be more streetwise today to be involved in the finish.
The Cracksman filly Dance In The Grass made it two from two in the Listed Star Stakes at Sandown when pulling clear with the runner-up which was a strong staying performance over the 7F trip. She looks ideally suited to this step up to one-mile trip and the booking of William Buick plus being well clear on official figures makes her the one to beat in this field.
DANCE IN THE GRASS (WIN)
written by Michael Taylor
A competitive Fillies’ Group Two over the same distance as the St Leger. Believe In Love has a nice chance on form, despite being below par on her last start. Her best form comes from over the longer distances, recently winning over a mile and six furlongs at York and being very narrowly denied in the Group One Prix de Royallieu last year. The downsides are that you’d have to go back a long time for when a five year-old last won this race and she would prefer the ground to be a tad softer. Nevertheless, you’d still expect a decent run.
Eshaada is the current favourite, given her victory in the Fillies’ and Mares Stakes on Champions Day. She wasn’t seen to her best at Newbury on her penultimate start but seemed in better order when third at Haydock in the Lancashire Oaks. She prefers ground that’s on the soft side so that’s a plus but the main question will be whether she handles the step up in trip. She could be opposable today.
River Of Stars took the step up to listed class with plenty of ease, she comfortably beat the well fancied Loft in the Chester Stakes, over todays distance. She was unlucky at Newbury at the beginning of the season but the form of that race worked out well. She’s well bred, by Sea The Stars and Ralph Beckett and Richard Kingscote are doing well. She could outrun her odds today.
RIVER OF STARS (E/W)
written by Kieran McHugh
New Kingdom represents the same connections that won this tricky handicap last year. He has pretty good form from the beginning of this year, not being beaten far by stablemate Nations Pride at Meydan. He was gelded in April and was a creditable third when having to concede quite an amount of weight. However, he was disappointing at York when finishing down the field. Although he is connections first choice, he needs to find more today.
Spirit Of Nguru is the charge of William Haggas and Tom Marquand. He won two of his first three and was unlucky on his three year-old debut at Haydock. He’s won on all ranges of ground, so that shouldn’t be a problem. He wasn’t at his best at Goodwood so more is needed. He might well be progressive but he needs to make a statement today.
Zainalarab made his first start at three and seemed inexperienced on his debut but has since followed up with three on the bounce. He’s improving with every run and should not have a problem with the distance. He was raised by 5 lbs but is still nicely treated. As well as this, he’s been handed a nice draw. He taken to continue his improvement.
written by Kieran McHugh
A small field for this conditions stakes but is notably interesting due to the return of last years Derby and King George victor, Adayar. His stablemate Dhahabi makes his first start since being gelded. He comes into this race off the back of a second placed finish here but over a furlong shorter. His best form came from two years ago when he finished third in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket behind Van Gogh and One Ruler. It would be a surprised if he was to overcome Adayar though.
Masekela bumped into Native Trail and Royal Patronage as a two-year-old but his fourth placed finish in the Derby is pretty solid form. He’s not been in the same form since though, finishing a long way behind Deauville Legend and New London in his last few starts. He didn’t get the run of the race at York and will probably make the running today. It would be surprising to see him scalp Adayar.
Last but not least! Adayar should win today, despite the lengthy layoff. He won the Derby and the King George, ran very well in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but probably felt the effects of a hard season in the Champion Stakes. It’s a bit of a non-contest but Adayar should follow in Logician’s footsteps and make light work of this small field. I’d sit back and enjoy his return!
written by Kieran McHugh
This looks quite competitive for the grade although none of the thirteen set to participate arrive on the back of a victory and quite a few have fairly serious questions to answer at present. Politics lost a shoe but still ran respectably when third at Ayr last time, prior to that he had seemingly lost the plot but he at least arrives here with something to build upon and this drop back in trip could suit. Often a strong traveller, he will need the gaps to appear but he looks very well handicapped now and respect is afforded.
Cottam Lane doesn't win that often but he is another to concentrate on and his latest fifth at Ripon deserve upgrading as he was short of room at a critical stage. Likely to have a fair pace to aim at today, he ought to go very close for Faye McManoman although further rain would pose a question of him.
Jack Mitchell is two from three on Helvetian and trainer Kevin Frost has his horses in good form right now, however, it has been quite some time since the seven-year-old won off a mark this high (70) and each of his last four wins have come off marks in the 60s. Quercus is as consistent as any in this and he arrives on the back of four consecutive placed efforts. This step up in grade demands slightly more although one would have to consider him for the places.
Princess Karine bolted up on her debut and she has twice placed since. Clearly unexposed, she makes more appeal than most but her yard have been going through a lean spell of late. J R Cavagin hasn't really gone on since his two-year-old days and most of his efforts since have been bitterly disappointing. His fifth placed finish here when making his return from a wind-op (Behind East Street Revue) leaves him with something to prove but he remains unexposed in sprinting terms and his handler is renowned for his prowess with similar types.
Pockley is well handicapped and he has enough form at the course to be seriously considered and old timer, East Street Revue, is another to consider if he turns up in the mood but the two that really catch the eye are Princess Karine and J R Cavagin and it is the latter who is marginally preferred.
J R CAVAGIN (E/W)
written by Chris Connolly
The eighth and final race on the card looks to be perhaps one of the most competitive of the entire meeting with 13 runners, who are far from prolific, lining up in this sprint handicap.
Market leader Little Muddy is a former course winner who has produced a string of solid performances of late. This looks a far tougher test than his most recent 3rd placed finish and the handicapper may have given him enough wait to prevent a return to the winners enclosure.
Despite only managing to finish 6th here last time out another course winner Thornaby Pearl couldn't be discounted too readily and has enough in the locker to make the frame.
It's such a tough race to call that I'm genuinely contemplating giving three horses at big prices but with just the thirteen set to go to post that's ludicrous. Never the less I may as well divulge the trio that have made my shortlist.
If old guards Bossipop and Teruntum Star have anything left and can produce a performance similar to their best they'll be able to dominate a race like this. Tim Easterby's nine year old finished a credible 7th in this race last year and returns with a massive 14lbs less weight to carry. His record at Doncaster isn't the best but if he's going to capitalise today may well be the day. Teruntum Star has had a switch of surroundings and makes his debut for trainer Scott Dixon. A big negative however is that his course record is utterly woeful. From his last six starts here at Donny he's only managed to finish ahead of 7 of his 80 rivals. That included finishing last on three occasions and second to last on another. So why on Earth would a horse like that make my shortlist? Well his new trainer is a master at getting winners here at Doncaster and on his day this horse could hang at listed level. This is way below some of the top races he's competed in before and if his new boss can unearth some of his former glories his massive price could look stupid come the off.
The third horse to make my shortlist hails from another yard who knows what it takes to bag a winner or two at this illustrious meeting. Trainer Michael Dods sends out youngster Red Warning. The three year old hasn't won since claiming their maiden success but this looks an interesting move from a very shrewd yard. If money comes for this runner then I'd take it very seriously.
I'm sure if either Teruntum Star or Red Warning sail to victory at big odds I'll be kicking myself and screaming at my television but I'm siding with being sensible and just selecting the one runner to tip.
Bossipop my be at the ripe age of nine but has shown this term he still has life in him and is taken to produce a big performance.
written by Rory Paddock