We take a look at the upcoming weekend of racing, including the St. Leger at Doncaster and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. Be sure to check out all of our racing specials across the weekend at Toals Bookmakers.
The oldest and longest of Britain’s five Classics, the St. Leger was first run in 1776 and takes place every September in Doncaster over a distance of 1m6f.
It may have lost some of it’s prestige in recent years, with owners and breeders prioritising speedier types and tasks. But this grand old race still stokes interest at the highest level. Proof of that can be found in the fact that Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore have teamed up to win the last two editions, most recently with Kew Gardens.
This year’s favourite comes from John Gosden’s stable, in the form of Frankel colt, Logician. Unbeaten in four starts, he was most recently seen winning the Voltigeur Stakes in good style at York. That race is perennially seen as a top trial for the St. Leger, and Dettori was adamant that the colt must take his chance at Doncaster after the victory. That was his first appearance in group company, and although the performance was satisfactory, the depth of his form suggests that his price is a bit short here, albeit for top connections.
O’Brien’s challenge is headed by the enigma that is Sir Dragonet. He came out of the blue this season with two runaway victories which left him sitting at the top of the market for the Epsom Derby. Moore partnered him that day where he finished in a bunch finish for fifth. His only run since was very disappointing over 1m2f at the curragh. Despite that he remains of interest, and the lightly raced son of Camalot may well achieve what his sire so nearly did in his quest for the Triple Crown in 2013.
Il Paradiso also runs for Ballydoyle, after impressing in the Lonsdale Cup last time out. He has been campaigned over 2m this term though and may find the pace a bit much here. He may well set the race up for his stablemate.
Verdict – Sir Dragonet 3/1
On Friday of the Doncaster meeting, Stradivarius looks to make it five from five this season as he lines up in the Doncaster Cup over 2m1f. The magnificent son of Sea the Stars has been better than ever this campaign, and there is nothing in this field that can come close to beating him if previous exertions haven’t left their mark. Distance betting is available on Stradivarius with the line set at 1.75 lengths.
Verdict – Stradivarius (under 1.75 lengths) 7/4
The highlight of Champions Weekend in Ireland, a race that has been won by some all time greats, including Sea the Stars, New Approach and Golden Horn. Aidan O’Brien hasn’t won this race since 2011, but he has four runners here including the favourite, Magical.
Her long season started back in April at Naas, and an impressive campaign saw her finish second to Crystal Ocean when sent off favourite for the King George at Royal Ascot. Since then she has been runner up to Enable on two occasions, and she most certainly has enough ability to land this Group 1 contest.
Another 4 year old who has had an impressive campaign is Elarqam. The Frankel colt ran a career best to finish a close third behind Japan and crystal Ocean in the Juddmonte international last time out. Considered to have been unlucky in running that day, there is reason to believe his best is yet to come. He has been supplemented for this and is greatly respected.
The classic generation are also well represented here. Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck has struggled since his win at Epsom, and this is not sure to be his optimum trip. Madhmoon however always looked like he might be suited by 1m2f. He ran well in both the Guinneas and the Derby, but connections will have had this as his target for a while now and a bold showing is expected here.
Headman has won his last three starts over 1m2f including two at Group 2 level in France. Trainer Roger Charlton is adamant that the likely strong pace here will bring out the best in the Kingman colt. However, he admits that a big step forward is needed if he is to win.
Japanese filly Deirdre brings an international element to proceedings. She won the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood last time out, but was seen to be well out of her depth in her run at Royal Ascot, with Magical finishing a long way ahead of her that day.
Verdict – Magical 15/8