The feature race of the day in the U.K is the Group 1 St Leger Stakes at Doncaster as Pete takes a look at Saturday’s card. Will Idaho romp to victory?
The St Leger is the oldest of the 5 British Classics run over 1 mile and 6f for 3 year olds. On ratings there are only 4 of the 9 horses in this race with a chance of winning.
Idaho is rated between 7lb and 24 lbs better than his rivals. Idaho is trained by Aidan O’Brien who has a tremendous record in this race, winning 4 times, most recently with Leading Light in 2013.
Idaho was 3rd in the Epsom Derby and 2nd in the Irish Derby this season behind Harzand, and runs here instead of taking on that rival in the Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
He won the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last time out, held up at the back of the field for most of that race and was ridden very confidently by his rider Seamie Heffernan.
He took a while to get going and had to reel in a long time leader but he romped away with the race at the finish. He was very strong at the finish and this further step up in trip by 2 furlongs is sure to suit.
Most of these are unproven stayers.
There is no doubt about this one staying.
He beat his stablemate Housesofparliment last time out and should confirm placings with him again today. Muntahaa will most likely be the one to put up the biggest challenge to him, but will have to improve on his latest win in a listed race to take this though.
IDAHO is the best horse in this race and I strongly fancy him to win. The price isn’t the best but he should win. Don’t forget new customers with Paddy Power can pick up 6/1 on Idaho to win, which looks a great price.
Stablemate Sword Fighter could be the one to chase him home at a big price.
Day One of the 2 day Champions Series also takes places at Leopardstown.
There are some really good races on the card and some of the best flat horses around running.
The Champion Stakes is the feature race of the whole 2 day series and on paper this race looks to be the race of the Flat season thus far. It’s run over 1 mile 2f and is due off at 6:45, its one I’m really looking forward to.
The dual derby winner Harzand is the one on everyone’s lips here.
There were so many doubts about him before the Epsom Derby but he quickley silenced the doubters with an exceptional performance, beating US Army Ranger and Idaho. He followed up that win with another solid win in the Irish Derby.
He has had a nice break and has been primed for this run by trainer Dermot Weld. Pat Smullen will take the ride again and he will have a good pace to shoot at with the stablemate doing the pacemaking duties. I get the feeling we haven’t seen the best of Harzand yet.
That’s a scary thought given that he has won 2 Derby’s already. The ground should be perfect for him and he really should take an awful lot of beating in this race.
He does have several top class horses as dangers though including 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks winner Minding, Eclipse winner Hawkbill, King George winner Highland Reel and French runners Almanzor and New Bay.
Minding will most likely be the one to put up the biggest fight.
She has won 4 Group 1 races this season and is without a doubt the best filly in training.
She gets 3lb fillies allowance from Harzand which will help her but I do think HARZAND is the best horse in this field. 3/1 could well end up being a fantastic price about this one.
The Group 2 Boomerang Stakes at 6:10 is a very interesting race. It sees the Irish 2000 Guineas winner Awtaad take on the up and coming Hit it a Bomb who won the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf last season at Keeneland. Awtaad has had some hard runs this season including in the St James Palace Stakes and when down the field in the Sussex Stakes last time out.
The Gurkha finished in front of him in the St James Palace Stakes, that one’s stablemate HIT IT A BOMB has the potential to be a great horse.
He has only run 4 times in his career and it’s win in the Breeders Cup was exceptional. He badly needed his recent seasonal reappearance when 3rd to today’s rival Tribal Beat.
He will reverse those placings today and I think he can beat Awtaad. This race and the Breeders Cup have been the main focus of the year. I think we’ll see a real good horse win today in this one.
The 5:35 is another decent race on the card today. It’s the Group 1 Matron Stakes run over 1 mile. It should see a 4 way battle between Irish 1000 Guineas winner Jet Setting, Breeders Cup 2nd Alice Springs, the French trained Qemah and the unbeaten filly Persuasive.
Qemah has the beating of Alice Springs and Jet Setting based on her winning run at Royal Ascot. Jet Setting was very disappointing then.
She did beat Minding in the Irish 1000 Guineas before that though. The yard has been under a cloud of late with a virus.
This one needs soft ground to be seen at her best. If the ground turns to soft she’s the one to be on but she’s just not the same on good ground.
Qemah has rumored to be in great shape of late and she should confirm the placings with Alice Springs and Jet Setting.
Her biggest danger comes in the form of Persuasive. She is 5 from 5 and has been on a roll of late. Won a handicap at Royal Ascot and won a Group 3 in great style last time out.
She needs to improve again to win today though. She’s taking a big step up in class. QEMAH is a solid performer and really should prove too good for these.
The last race on the card at Leopardstown is an interesting handicap. Kellini won the race last year but it’s a much tougher renewal this time round. Sikandarabad is sure to have his followers in this race, his recent 2nd to Sea Wolf is good form. He is running very soon after that run though and it might have taken a lot out of him.
There are two horses in this at nice prices that I like and they both ran in the same race last time out. This Is The Spirit tried to make all in a decent handicap at Goodwood recently.
He was going really well until being hampered inside the final furlong. Big Time was traveling really well in that race too until he found trouble in running.
He was the most unluckiest horses I have seen in sometime. This Is The Spirit is 5lb better off with Big Time today but I do think Big Time is the better horse. Kevin Ryan has done a great job with this horse this season and I think BIG TIME will go very close in this race with a clear run.
I think the best thing to do with my five selections today is to put them into a Lucky 31.
Saturday Selections (Pays around 320/1)
Idaho (4/5) 3:45 Doncaster
Qemah (11/8) 5:35 Leopardstown
Hit It A Bomb (2/1) 6:10 Leopardstown
Harzand (3/1) 6:45 Leopardstown
Big Time (11/2) 7:20 Leopardstown