excitement and anticipation is building on Town Moor as Doncaster prepares to welcome Camelot tomorrow for the final Classic of the season. The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt will bid for racing immortality by securing the Ladbrokes St Leger (3.40pm), part of the QIPCO British Champion Series and, with it, the English Triple Crown, last held by Njinsky in 1970.
If we are to believe all the hyperbole about Camelot, then the general 2/5 available now may have looked good value by 3.45pm tomorrow. The Coolmore operation who own the son of Montjeu allegedly reserved the name Camelot for 10 years waiting for the right horse to go for the Triple Crown.
The 2000 Guineas and Derby champion may well bolt up, however we are not going to get rich backing him at that price and there is a genuine alternative in the shape of John Gosden’s MICHELANGELO. Although stable jockey William Buick has chosen to ride the yard’s other fancied runner, Thought Worthy, I wouldn’t read too much into that with stable politics likely to have influenced his decision.
But anyhow, Frankie Dettori is a more than capable substitute and between himself and Gosden, they have won nine St Legers, including five of the last six, and teamed up to win with Shantou in 1996. Gosden has won the race for the last two years running with similar sorts to Michelangelo and 12/1 is great each-way value.
It had long been known that the Galileo colt, in the same ownership as last year’s winner Masked Marvel, was being aimed at this race and everything is in place for a big run. The presence of pacemaker Dartford will ensure a strong gallop for this definite stayer, he has blinkers on for the first time to help his focus and Doncaster’s galloping track will suit much better than Goodwood where he was slightly disappointing last time out.
In the market without Camelot, 9/2 also looks very fair for Dettori’s mount who will relish the good surface.
Tomorrow’s opening Class Two Handicap (1.50pm) is a hard puzzle to unravel with none of the 12 runners winning last time out. However, my old friend MIA’S BOY has slipped into the race off an attractive looking mark back at his favourite course.
Chris Dwyer’s eight-year-old won a seven furlong handicap here off 97 back in October and he is 5lb lower tomorrow. He has won three times on Town Moor and looks set to get the decent ground that he requires. He will be an each-way price and I expect him to go close for Andrea Atzeni.
Dundonnell is sure to be all the rage in the Champagne Stakes (2.25pm) following his impressive win at York last month in the Acomb. Roger Charlton’s inmate broke the track record at Lingfield two starts back and did well to win on the Knavesmire despite James Doyle admitting he got to the front too soon. That said, there have been plenty of upsets in this race over the years and with him likely to start a short price, I’m tempted to look elsewhere for a bit of value.
Richard Hannon won this race last year with Trumpet Major and I fancy him to repeat the trick with the unbeaten TORONADO. Richard Hughes’s mount has won both his starts in authoritative fashion and he should give the favourite plenty to think about.
The Portland Handicap (3pm) is the big betting race of the day and I’m very interested in Ron Harris’s PRODIGALITY at 7/1 with Coral, who has snuck in at the foot of the weights. This progressive four-year-old has been second on four of his last five runs, but that is mainly down to bad luck rather than any attitude issues. He could be well drawn in stall eight and, although I respect Rex Imperator greatly, the selection could be very well-handicapped indeed.
MIA’S BOY e/w 1.50pm Doncaster
TORONADO 2.25pm Doncaster
PRODIGALITY e/w 3.00pm Doncaster
MICHELANGELO e/w 3.40pm Doncaster
MICHELANGELO (w/o Camelot) 3.40pm