BILL ESDAILE PREVIEWS THE SECOND DAY OF DONCASTER’S LADBROKES ST LEGER FESTIVAL
THE BIG sales races at the top meetings are not everyone’s cup of tea. With horses carrying weight dependent on what price they reached at auction, it’s a lot less ‘fair’ than a handicap and you are generally left with big fields full of horses of widely differing ability.
Morning Post landed Weatherby’s Hamilton Insurance £300,000 Stakes last year at odds of 100/1, and other recent winners at 20/1 and 16/1 sound a note of caution around current favourite Fox Trotter.
He won on debut at this track in fine style, beating subsequent Group Three scorer Burnt Sugar, and ran fairly behind top juvenile Ivawood at Goodwood next time. The son of Bushranger has a big chance as his price of around 5/1 suggests, but there’s better value to be found elsewhere.
Previous favourite Valley Of Fire was my original pick before he became a non-runner yesterday and, looking at the form of that one’s last run at York, then I can’t see why GAUDY is as big as 25/1.
Kevin Ryan trained the winner in 2013 and his horse’s best performance came on fast ground. The jockeys said yesterday it was getting quick and being a son of Dandy Man this one looks over-priced, particularly as he was only a neck behind Valley Of Fire last time.
William Haggas will rely solely on HEARTBREAK HERO and that one is also worth backing at around 10/1. He was impressive at Chepstow last time and will relish quick conditions.
Aidan O’Brien and his son Joseph teamed up with Reply to win this at 20/1 in 2011, but it’s a little disappointing to see them taking The Great War down this route. The colt looked to have the world at his feet when not coming off the bridle to win his first two starts.
However, he’s had his limitations exposed since and will do well to carry joint top-weight to victory here.
Earlier, the Group Three Sceptre Stakes (2.10pm) looks a very tight affair, with several notable runners.
Leading the market is Bragging, a very progressive sort, who won comfortably at York’s Ebor meeting. But there is little juice in the Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly’s price at around 3/1, given that this will be her first run in Pattern company.
J Wonder should go well, having found her optimum trip, while Muteela ran Brian Meehan’s charge close at Goodwood. However, Muteela is quite highly-strung and was a beaten favourite again since.
Possibly the forgotten horse of the race is AMAZING MARIA, to whom I’m willing to give another chance. Ed Dunlop’s filly was a very promising two-year-old, who many thought had a live chance in this year’s 1,000 Guineas.
A less than ideal preparation scuppered that plan though, and she can certainly be forgiven her Oaks run after being thrown in the deep end at Epsom, and clearly not staying the trip.
Her latest appearance came across the Channel, where the horribly heavy ground at Deauville was not to her liking. She’s unbeaten at today’s trip of seven furlongs and could very well outrun her odds of 20/1.
AMAZING MARIA 2.10pm Doncaster
GAUDY e/w 3.15pm Doncaster
HEARTBREAK HERO e/w 3.15pm Doncaster