Home to two of the world’s oldest races, the big-money St Leger Festival is a highlight of the September racing schedule.
We’ve taken a look at some horses which could be worth a little flutter this weekend.
Times Up (Doncaster Cup)
Three-time winners of the Doncaster Cup don’t come around very often. A horse hasn’t won it three times since the great Double Trigger in 1998 – and he was the first to do so since Beeswing some 170 years previous.
For that reason, all eyes will be on Times Up on Saturday. He’s nine (the oldest of 11 runners) and nowhere near the levels he set at his 2012 peak – while he hasn’t won a race since triumphing here in 2013. But, BUT, if he stays and finishes well on this long course it’d be the story of the weekend.
Simple Verse – St Leger Stakes
They say that the fastest horse wins the Guineas, the luckiest the Derby and the best horse wins the St Leger. But this year, a pretty weak roster suggests that some of the best runners have been placed away from the world’s oldest Classic.
There are just 8 runners going to post for the long Group 1 race, none of whom have won at that level before, while Storm The Stars became the only horse to have even landed a Group 2 when he won the Great Voltiguer Stakes at York last month. That’s a good sign for William Haggas’ colt, because victors of the St Legers are often known to also win there.
Nevertheless, Simple Verse’s late entrance (at a cost of a cool £50,000) has raised plenty of eyebrows and this intriguing, progressive horse is well worth keeping an eye on. It’s true that no filly has won the St Leger since 1992, but she stepped up a grade to win Goodwood’s Lillie Langry Stakes in July and her owner Ralph Beckett has shone with fillies at Doncaster before. Watch this space.
Emotionless (Champagne Stakes)
Emotionless, the son of former champion thoroughbred Shamardal, is certainly making a few waves.
He got his flat career off to a very impressive start last month as he emphatically won the Maiden Stakes at Newmarket, and there are plenty of punters, not mentioning his trainer Charlie Appleby, who will be watching out to see if this highly-rated two-year old can continue his bright start and cement his already-impressive reputation.
Safety Check (Park Stakes)
After a fantastic winter flat campaign in Meydan, Irish-born Safety Check made a very impressive return to the British Isles when he finished third at Glorious Goodwood’s Lennox Stakes. And although he’s facing a talented field, including Limato (who is running at seven furlongs for the first time) and last year’s winner Ansgar, the chestnut colt could be a very interesting outside bet indeed.
Maljaa (Portland Handicap)
The Portland Handicap has thrown up some memorable finishes in recent years and it boasts another very competitive field.
However, in the last decade it’s not been one for youngsters. Four and five-year olds have won 9 of the last 10 races, while only three-year olds have only placed three times since 2005. But that won’t put Maljaa off from making a big impression!
The Roger Varian-trained colt is making a name for himself as a sprinter, winning his last two, while he’s yet to fail to place in eight races. That’s a very decent run of form, but can he keep it up with all the stats against him?
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