There is some fantastic racing to look forward to on Day 3 of the Doncaster St Leger meeting, with three group races and a valuable staying handicap to sink our teeth into.
The 7-furlong Group 3 Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes is the curtain raiser, and the standout mare in the race is Laugh Aloud who got some very classy back form including a runaway victory of a Group 3 at Epsom last season. John Gosden’s daughter of Dubawi ran well behind Veracious at Sandown last month on her return from a 455-day absence and given normal improvement she’s the one to beat.
Many punters will be supporting Andrew Balding’s Dancing Star who has contested top-tier racing in the past including when finishing down the field in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee and Haydock Sprint Cup in the last two seasons. She appeared to be unlucky in running at her first attempt over seven furlongs in early August, and look sure to run her race, but may just get outstayed in the closing stages.
Anna Nerium, represents the classic crop, and she did run well to finish midfield in the 1000 Guineas earlier in the season behind her lesser fancied stablemate Billesdon Brook. Richard Hannon’s inmate has an enviable record of 3-4 over seven furlongs including a Group 3 victory at Goodwood on her most recent start. All things considered, she looks sure to go very close.
Selection: Laugh Aloud
The Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes for two-year-olds will be fast and furious with previous winners including Fleeting Spirit (2007), Zebedee(2010) and Sir Prancealot(2012). Recent Cheveley Park purchase Rumble Inthejungle is the hot favourite to add this Group 2 to his recent runaway Group 3 win. Tom Queally of Frankel fame is eagerly looking forward to partnering Richard Spencers charge saying:
“It’s exciting. He’ll go there with a seriously good chance. He’s right up there with some of the best two-year-olds I’ve ridden.
“He’s sort of a charged ball of speed, but he’s the ultimate professional. He switches off when he needs to and picks up when I ask him. He doesn’t waste an ounce of energy.”
Legends Of War looked like a very exciting prospect when blitzing the field on debut in a Yarmouth maiden on debut. He then let his supporters down when finishing down the field in a Group 2 at Newmarket. John Gosden’s colt bounced back to form at York when runner-up in the Group 2 Gimcrack, and he may just improve on his first attempt at the minimum distance.
Soldier’s Call provided fledgeling trainer Archie Watson with both his first Royal Ascot win in the Windsor Castle and his first Group winner when landing a Group 3 at Chantilly last month. The Clipper Logistics owned colt owes his trainer nothing and may have to settle for minor honours here as he has over two lengths to find with Rumble Inthejungle on their Molecomb running and I don’t see him turning the deficit around.
Others to consider include Irish raider Indigo Balance and the well-touted Vintage Brut.
Selection: Legends Of War
The Mallard Handicap lets the staying handicappers to strut their stuff, and the fractional favourite is William Haggas’s progressive Reverend Jacobs who has already won twice this season and looks well worth a try at this longer trip being by Nathaniel.
Godolphin’s Walton Street is another horse to the fore of the market and this lightly raced son of Cape Cross could be the one to side with. He ran well in Meydan earlier in the year and has finished third on two starts back on British soil in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes and a Group 3 at Newbury.
The least experienced in the field is also one the most interesting. Ben Vrackie has only graced the track on four occasions and although he has only won once, he did finish runner-up in the Group 3 March Stakes at Goodwood. That race only had three runners so the form may not be the strongest but he does have an improving profile and may be the best horse in the field.
Selection: Ben Vrackie
The Group 2 Doncaster Cup is the highlight on Day 3 at Doncaster and the Willie Mullins trained Thomas Hobson will be looking to go one better having finished second in this last year. He ran a possible career best in the Melbourne Cup when finishing sixth behind Rekindling 53 days later. Rich Ricci’s gelding has only been seen twice since then at Royal Ascot and in a Group 3 at the Curragh. If he runs to his Flemington form then he should prove very difficult to beat.
Sheikhzayedroad showed that he retains plenty of ability when finishing second in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup in March although he’s two runs since have been well below par. David Simcock’s charge finished third in this race last year behind Thomas Hobson and there won’t be much to separate the pair.
Oisin Murphy has been the man of the moment in recent times and partners Simcock’s other runner Algometer. The five-year-old has age on his side if not the class his rivals have shown. He also hasn’t won a race in nearly two years but showed his talent when just losing out to Marmelo in a Longchamp Group 2 when last seen and if Murphy can work his magic then maybe he can get his head in front again.
Of the others, Max Dynamite peaks the most interest as the classy dual purpose eight-year-old did finish third behind Rekindling and ahead of stablemate Thomas Hobson in the Melbourne Cup last season. This was his second time filling the places in the race that stops the nation and although he has run disappointingly this season, a big run wouldn’t be surprising.
Selection: Max Dynamite