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Doncaster Cup (British Champions Series) (Group Two)
With more than two hundred and fifty years of history, the Group 2 Doncaster Cup is one of the jewels of the St Leger meeting with a marathon trip of two and a quarter miles in front of the field. Our expert tip and runner by runner guide for the 2017 Doncaster Cup is below.
IN SUMMARY: MONTALY has improved all season, needing the full two mile trip to get on top in the Lonsdale last time out. The step back up to this trip should allow him to improve once more, already a winner at this distance when landing the Chester Cup in May. He beat Sheikhzayedroad and Thomas Hobson in that York contest, that pair once more look his main dangers so the three pound penalty he has to carry shouldn’t be enough to stop him. Desert Skyline steps up in trip but he shaped well over two miles at Glorious Goodwood and gets chunks of weight as the sole three-year-old in the race.
1 MONTALY – Improvement has taken off this season, landing the Chester Cup before runner-up at Listed level and scoring in the Group 2 Lonsdale at the Ebor Festival. He has a three pound penalty to carry for the latter but he has won at this trip already, has no issues with soft ground and given the way he is progressing he should still have more to offer. This isn’t the deepest edition ever run of this race so he very much looks the one to beat on the form in the book having beat his main dangers last time out.
2 CLEVER COOKIE – One of the most popular horses in training in recent years, he has been a long way short of his best so far in 2017. He was well beaten in this contest last season and although the ground has come in his favour it would be a surprise if he were able to do better than a place on this occasion.
3 FUN MAC – Winner of a Listed contest in France last time out on good to soft ground. That form wouldn’t be good enough to trouble the principals, but he is six pounds better off for a length beating from Montaly in the Chester Cup. That rival has progressed sharply since but if he gets on with the softer ground (previous form on it is ok, nothing more) then he may yet outrun his price.
4 HIGH JINX – Nine year old has the ground in his favour, the heavier it gets the better for him. He began his 2017 campaign with a huge third in the Yorkshire Cup, beaten just half a length in total on his first run for two years. He hasn’t got close to that in three runs since, well behind Montaly and a couple of others at York last time. This extra distance will help him as he is a dour stayer but should find at least a couple with younger legs too quick for him.
5 PALLASATOR – A mercurial talent, he won this race in 2015. It’s rather surprising given his quirks that this is the first time he will be fitted with headgear, with cheekpieces added to the eight-year-old. He has been a long way adrift of his best form so far this season and although soft ground is no problem for him, it is difficult to know if the cheekpieces will help him or if he will completely spit the dummy in them, a risky proposition.
6 SHEIKHZAYEDROAD – Got the better of Quest For More in a pulsating finish to this contest in 2016. He followed up in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champions Day but has struggled to get close to that level with any consistency since. Soft ground is no problem for him, with a three pound pull in the weights with Montaly on their York running last month putting him right into the mix in a bid to win this prize back to back years.
7 THOMAS HOBSON – Nearly pulled off a sensational double at Royal Ascot, winning the Ascot Stakes on day 1 before runner-up in the Queen Alexandra on day 5. He has won on soft and heavy ground over hurdles so conditions will be no problem, with his stamina well and truly proven. He didn’t appear to have any excuses when beaten stepped up to this level when behind Montaly at York last time out so needs to up his game once more.
8 SHE IS NO LADY – Strong stayer, she produced a career best in June when fourth in the Ascot Gold Cup. She lacked a turn of foot subsequently at Goodwood so the step back up in trip on a stiffer track should help her. She has placed form on soft ground which would give her a little squeak but on the balance of form, she is going to need another career best if she is to land this prize.
9 DESERT SKYLINE – Sole three-year-old in the line-up, he has improved each time he has stepped up in trip. He kept on well when third in the Goodwood Cup and with a pair of smart efforts already to his credit on good to soft, he promises to act on the ground. Gets a twelve pound weight allowance from his elders which could prove to be a huge help in the conditions, holds sound claims.