Doncaster St Leger Festival & Irish Champions Weekend best bets

I am visiting the Blenheim Palace Horse Trials this weekend, my annual drop of Cross Country and Show Jumping rather than Hurdles and Chasing, and the opportunity to update the site will no doubt be somewhat limited on planes, trains, automobiles, out in the grounds of Blenheim Palace and the pubs of Woodstock. My mind will naturally not be far from the racing and the bets I will be having, or have had already for this weekend, follow.

There are some very good races to enjoy and plenty of short-priced ones, beware the multiple bets, sod's law states one will get turned over.

They started the St Leger Festival on good to soft (soft in places) on Wednesday which was good (good to soft in places) by Thursday and with no rain so far, and none forecast till Sunday, they look set to be racing on decent racing ground at the weekend.

It will surprise few that my attention this coming Saturday is pretty much all about the last Classic of the season the Group One St Leger at 3.35 up at Doncaster and Kew Gardens. I am of course sitting on a 25-1 ante-post ticket that has been locked up safe and sound at Triple G Towers since Wednesday 27th December – I feel almost like an expectant father after nine months! The price has shrunk somewhat and the best price you’ll get now is 2-1. Wells Farhh Go has been ruled out after an injury sustained on the gallops earlier this month but Lah Ti Dar will run, surprised me, rather than going for the Prix Vermaille on Sunday before a possible tilt at the Arc. She is vying for favouritism now at around 2-1. She obviously has class, and could prove very good, but is inexperienced with only three runs and this looks a big step-up on her Listed win over 1m4f at York – she does get the 3lb sex allowance. Old Persian, who beat the favourite in the G.2 Great Voltigeur Stakes, has to race off level weights against the selection here and the O’Brien yard are in far ruder health now than last month. "He should step up a good bit from York. We were delighted with his run," O'Brien said on Wednesday 5th September. "It wasn't ideal under the penalty, but we felt he had to run and that was the perfect race to give him his prep. We always thought Doncaster would suit him and hopefully the ground will be nice for him," the trainer added. "He had a disappointing run in the Derby and he disappointed us a little bit at Lingfield [in the Derby trial] when he got beat, so maybe he's a horse who likes a level track. He's very relaxed and has a great mind." O'Brien is unsurprisingly strongly represented with five runners in total with Southern France, The Pentagon, Nelson and Zabriskie completing the quintet. Suffice to say hopefully a bottle or two of the bubbly stuff will be quaffed on the Water Terrace of Blenheim Palace around about 4 O’clock Saturday to celebrate the victory of Kew Gardens.

Too Darn Hot, full-brother to Lah Ti Dar, will be odds-on for the seven-furlong Group Two Champagne Stakes and that is understandable on what we have seen thus far. Dark Vision and Quorto are also lining up and appear decent but the Gosden trained colt has been very impressive on his two starts. He can’t be backed at the odds though. 

Out in the Emerald Isle at Leopardstown and the Curragh this weekend they have their Champions Weekend. On the Saturday at Leopardstown they have the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at 5.25. Alpha Centauri has been odds-on for weeks for this and lets face it it’s no surprise as she bids to capture a fabulous fifth Group 1 in a row. She has won the Irish 1,000 Guineas, G.1 Coronation Stakes, G.1 Falmouth Stakes and G.1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois. In fact pretty much the only mile race for fillies that matters she hasn’t won this year was the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket in which she did not run –  I was on ante-post at 33-1! Danny Tudhope will take over from the sidelined PJ McDonald on Karl Burke's star filly Laurens. Will be stepping back to a mile for the first time since May when she finished second to Billesdon Brook in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. I am a fan of her as well and backed her when she won the G.1 Prix de Diane. She clearly did not stay 1m4f in the G.1 Yorkshire Oaks last time.

The big one the Group One QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes over 1m2f is due off at 6.35. I think you can put a line through the older colts that will be lining-up for this with the greatest of respect to them, especially with the 6lb weight-for-age allowance. Rhododendron lines-up as the only older filly and is worth a tickle each-way at 20-1. She would have to go some to give 3lb to the 3yo colts but at her best, she’d give them a race and could very well place-up. You can ignore her last three runs as the stable was under a cloud, they appear to be put from under that now, and she was actually going well in the G.1 Jean Romanet when she stumbled and nearly lost hind legs entering straight. On ratings and weights, the race should go to the Classic generation. Saxon Warrior will be out to try and prove he isn’t a one trick pony after a disappointing campaign following the 2,000 Guineas win. Whilst his season has stalled one who has appeared to get better as the summer has gone by is of course Roaring Lion and he arrives off the back of wins in the G.1 Eclipse and G.1 Juddmonte – Saxon Warrior behind in both – both races of course over 1m2f which appears this colts perfect trip. On the book, there is no reason to think the Warrior can overturn the form other than the now well-known fact that the Ballydoyle yard has been suffering from a bug. It’s hard to ignore the claims of the jolly at which appears to be his ideal trip and he has gone odds-on.

On Sunday they move proceedings over to the Curragh in Ireland and at 3.05 they have the Group One Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes for which Dirty dozen member and triple G favourite Blue Point was, of course, re-routed rather than running in the Sprint Cup at Haydcok. Sadly he won’t be running having been ruled out due to a dirty scope earlier this week. 

I will hopefully be getting involved in the 2yo races if the following horses run. 

The Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes at 3.40 over 7f can go to Godolphin and the Charlie Appleby trained Beyond Reason. The filly has won her last two starts out in France (a G.3 and G.2) so a day out clearly doesn’t bother her and the form of both races is fair, to say the least. The concern is she has drifted in the market all week, 8-1 at the time of writing, so I am not convinced she’ll be making the trip. If she does the Australia filly is worth a punt.

Straight after at 4.15 the two-year-old colts go over the same track and trip for the Group One National Stakes. This is the one race I will get involved with one of the short ones in the shape of Anthony Van Dyck at 6-4. He already has the G.2 Tyros Stakes and G.2 Futurity Stakes to his name and should be able to add this.

At 4.30 it is the Group One Irish St. Leger. Two-times winner Order Of St George had been a shades odds-on in places during the build-up but then came the announcement of his retirement. O’Brien still has seven of the ten left in the race at the time of writing and I will be leaving well alone now.

Be lucky