I’M not entirely sure what the highlight is of the opening day of the Doncaster St Leger meeting. It could be the Leger Legends race featuring former jockeys who are now a bit more jowly after discovering the joy of food. Among them, incredibly, is the septuagenarian George Duffield, who will be riding at Town Moor 25 years after steering User Friendly to St Leger success. Or it might be the Scarborough Stakes for sprinters who fall just short of Group class. Then there is the massive Mirage Dancer, the imposing son of Frankel who has promised so much this season but so far failed to deliver. Any road, for what it’s worth, here are some fancies with their current best prices in what promises to be testing conditions…
2.20: Any of the four in this juvenile conditions race could win. Demons Rock is in sparkling form and holds John Kirkup on York form. The latter was hampered that day and could get much closer this time and may be the value in a race that has little appeal as a betting heat. He’ll also relish the ground. But overall preference is for Owen Burrows’ SHABAABY who impressed with the way he put the race to bed at Newmarket. 15/8 BetVictor
2.50: A fairly competitive nursery where Richard Hannon’s RUM RUNNER stands out, to this observer at least. He showed a good attitude when winning his maiden at Sandown on softish ground. Crownthorpe will be popular for the Fahey-Hanagan axis while Nobleman’s Rest, who fluffed his lines in the Gimcrack, will be seeking to atone. Hannon’s other runner, Toomer, could run well at a price. 6/1 Coral
3.20: This is best left to FINAL VENTURE, who has been running in Group races. He may handle the soft ground better than most including the speedy Thesme. 7/4 Stan James
And here’s some more tips…
3.50: A chance is taken in the Leger Legends race with SOLDIER BLUE. He stepped up on previous form to run a solid third in a one-mile maiden at Pontefract on soft ground. The second, Sharja Bridge, has won easily since. His veteran rider, George Duffield, is apparently as fit as a fiddle, according to his trainer wife Ann. She writes an entertaining and informative blog on her website, which is always worth a read. 9/1 Paddy Power
4.20: I flagged up SIX STRINGS as a horse to follow for the autumn in a recent piece. Read it here. So I’d better stick with him and the 10/1 with bet365 appeals. I am slightly worried about the testing ground in what is a decent contest. Bengal Lancer is in flying form and looks a huge danger.
4.50: MIRAGE DANCER has to win this if he is to live up to the expectations so many people have had of him. He was 12 lengths behind Cracksman in the Great Voltigeur. It might just be that he will make a better four-year-old. Any of the other four could land this prize if the favourite fails to fire. 15/8 Coral/Ladbrokes
5.20: A trappy handicap but my strongest fancy of the day goes here. Sprinters in form should be cherished while they make hay and MUATADEL ticks the boxes. He is a course winner, will handle the conditions and has PJ McDonald on board. What’s not to like? 11/2 Coral and others.
Prices correct at time of going to press. 5.30pm Tuesday September 12.