Doncaster Festival Preview – Day 2

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Pilaster (Near Side)

There are two Group races to enjoy on the second day of the Doncaster St Leger meeting with May Hill and Park Hill Stakes taking pride of place at the South Yorkshire track.

The Group 2 May Hill Stakes is the first group race of the week and it’s for two-year-old fillies which means it’s hotly contested, with all connections chasing black type. The once-raced Dubai Beauty heads the market for Saeed Bin Suroor and Colm O’Donoghue. The daughter of Frankel made a breathtaking debut at Newmarket early last month and she holds leading claims of maintaining her unbeaten record.

Surprisingly Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien has never won this Group 2 contest but looks to have a very good chance of remedying this with Peach Tree and Fleeting, who both filled the placings behind a stablemate in a Group 3 affair when last seen. They will both need to improve if they are to win but that’s entirely possible.

The well-connected Accordance hails from the record-setting Mark Johnston yard and ran very well when runner-up in a Group 3 on her third start. If she runs to this level again then a big run looks on the cards, although she’s not guaranteed to appreciate the step up in trip.

Sand Share is the only other unbeaten filly in the field having won a Kempton maiden under a hands and heels ride on debut. The daughter of Oasis Dream looks sure to improve from this run and the step up in trip. Ralph Beckett seems to excel when given a quality filly and this may just be another one.

Selection: Sand Share

The Group 2 Park Hill Stakes is the feature race on day 2 and is run over 1mile 6 furlongs for fillies and mares. The aforementioned Beckett has won the last two runnings of this with Simple Verse (2016) and Alyssa (2017). The classic winning trainer is represented by Isabel De Urbina this year who is one of the outsiders, having won a listed race, and finishing some six lengths behind Pilaster in the Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood most recently.

Roger Varian’s Pilaster re-opposes here and it’s hard to see the daughter Nathaniel not landing a four-timer in this Group 2 contest. She has only been beaten on one occasion, which was on debut and in receipt of her age for weight allowance, she will prove very difficult to beat.

Horseplay carries top weight and justifiably so having finished fourth in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks behind Sea Of Class on her most recent run. Prior to this Andrew Balding’s mare won the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks when beating God Given. I think she will appreciate the step up in distance and may give the favourite the most to think about.

The Luca Cumani trained God Given has been admirably consistent this season and is worth another try at this trip but she has been beaten by a number of the runners in the field and it’s hard to see her winning here.

The remainder of the field is made up of the Aidan O’Brien pair Sizzling and Flattering who both need to improve to feature along with the Lucy Wadham trained Galmarley.

Selection: Pilaster

The Irish Rover

The £300,000 Weatherbys Racing Bank Stakes is the most valuable race of the day and is exclusively for two-year-olds. These races can throw up some strange results but the logical starting point is the top-rated horse which Aidan O’Brien trains The Irish Rover who’s standout piece form came when finishing third behind Advertise in the Group 1 Phoneix Stakes at the Curragh.

The son of “crack” stallion No Nay Never also ran well when finishing midfield in the Coventry Stakes behind Calyx. If he runs to form then he must go very close.

Another angle to take is to side with the bottom weight which is Aim Power who actually has some very smart form in the book too, having finished fourth in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood two starts back. Richard Hannon has an excellent record with two-year-olds and racing off just 8-4, she looks sure to go close.

The other Irish raider is the Joseph O’Brien trained No Needs Never who also ran in the Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting but trailed in a disappointing 21st. This was just his second career start and following a comfortable confidence-boosting win at Down Royal in July, he may well sneak into the places.

Another trainer who does well with his juveniles is Richard Spencer and the twice-raced Louis Treize is his representative here. Having run well on debut at Doncaster, the son of Slade Power comfortably won a Newcastle novice vent by three lengths. Given normal improvement, he can be expected to run well and perhaps even record back to back victories.

Selection: The Irish Rover

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