Best bets for the Betfred St Leger Festival - Day One

It is the first of four busy days Thursday as they get underway up at Doncaster with day one of the Betfred St Leger Festival. They have at least a couple of Pattern races each day from Thursday through to Sunday with plenty more to enjoy besides. The going is described as soft on Wednesday evening and the threat of any further rain on Thursday is only slight.

Doncaster is regarded as one of the oldest centres for horse racing in Britain, with records of regular race meetings going back to the 16th century. In 1776 Colonel Anthony St Leger founded the race we now know as the St Leger making it the world’s oldest Classic race; a little fact for you to bore your friends with down the boozer this weekend.

Best bets for the horse racing at Doncaster Thursday

The Meriel Tufnell Apprentice Handicap gets the St Leger Festival meeting underway at 1.15 on Thursday afternoon; I am leaving that alone. The 6f Weatherbys Scientific £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes at 2.25 is an interesting race with some fair juveniles lining-up with some big stables and major connections represented. The Aidan O’Brien trained, G.1 6f Gimcrack runner-up, Johannes Brahms heads the market. Having won on debut he was second in the listed 5f Windsor Castle at the Royal meeting before the Gimcrack at York last month. His chance is there for all to see. The Clive Cox trained Dragon Leader puts his unbeaten record on the line arriving with three 1’s next to his name, the latest from when he won the 6f Goffs UK Harry Beeby Premier Yearling Stakes at York collecting a big old chunk of prize-money into the bargain. Officially rated 98 (same as Johannes Brahms) he deserves to take his chance at this level and it wouldn’t surprise me if he has more to give yet; he was very impressive at York. I think he can get the better of the raider from Ballydoyle especially as under the race conditions he gets 10lb off the Irish colt. The going is a bit of an unknown for the two market principles so hopefully it will have dried a bit by the off. I am on overnight at 9-4.

The first of the two Group races on Thursday is the Group Two mile Betfred May Hill Stakes for two-year-olds at 3.00. Darnation is the relatively short-priced favourite for trainer Karl Burke. A promising third on her debut at Haydock the daughter of Too Darn Hot won at the second attempt by ten-lengths on rain softened ground up at Thirsk before winning the 7f G.3 Prestige Stakes, again on soft, at Goodwood. There is every reason to think there is more to come from her yet and that the eight-furlongs holds no fears. I am on at 13-8 overnight. Romanova with William Buick in the saddle looks likely to be the one to chase her home.

At 3.35 it's the Group Two 1m6½f Betfred Park Hill Fillies' Stakes with the three-year-old fillies taking on the older generation. I can make a case for several in the field. Sumo Sam appeared to relish the testing conditions when taking the 1m6f G.2 Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood and if any more rain arrives she would have to be taken seriously. Crack Of Light won’t mind the softer going and is intriguing up in trip whilst Ching Shih looked to appreciate the step-up in trip when second to Arrest in the 1m5f G.3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes last time out. Boogie Woogie is over from Ballydoyle and can’t be ignored trying this trip for the first time and Night Sparkle arrives off the back of three handicap wins and may have more to offer yet. I have decided not to have a bet.

Best bet for the horse racing at Chelmsford City Thursday

I tipped Stormy Waves on debut when the 525,000 Guineas purchase, a son of Dubawi, was third over seven-furlongs at Doncaster back in June, a little green at times. He was third again over the same track and trip in July not knocked about by Jamie Spencer. The snips have been reached for after just the two starts so he needs to start winning races to pay back some of the half-a-million price tag! Hopefully he’ll start by taking the mile Moretti Zero Novice Stakes at 6.00 doen at the Essex track. Stall three is a decent draw for one that likes to race prominently and I wouldn’t be surprised to see James Doyle pop him out and try and make every yard. I am on at 9-4.  

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