Doncaster St Leger Festival
Wednesday, September 9th
Latest Generation, looking at this colt by Frankel, who is out of the Queen Mary winner Rizeena you could see he looked in terrific order. Quickly out of the stalls this well-made colt travelled strongly at the head of affairs, and even though he shifted a little to his left he quickened up to win quite comfortably. His trainer has entered him in the Royal Lodge and Dewhurst. The debutant Stay Well is a round barrelled type who looked pretty straight given he is trained by Hughie Morrison. Out the back it took him a while to get organised, but he made substantial headway to run on to be a decent second. The Roger Charlton trained Saligo Bay looked on the tubby side, but was well placed and when he came under pressure kept on finding all the way to the line. Arthur’s Realm was the biggest horse in the race, but you could see he was on the burly side. I thought this was a good start to his career. Side Shot was the paddock pick and well placed to start with. However, he fell away dramatically in the closing stages. Mohaafeth and Reverend Hubert both looked fit for their debut.
Frankie Dettori brought out the best in Foxtrot Lady after having lost her previous 13 outings. This daughter of Foxwedge looked fit and was given a canny ride. He had her placed in midfield and then moved her up gradually, filling her with confidence as she passed her opponents. Before she knew it, she had her head in front to win quite comfortably. Althiqa has run well all season, and this daughter of Dark Angel produced a solid performance in second. She looked the winner as she hit the front, but was just overturned by an inspired ride by Frankie. Bounce The Blues was having her first run for Andrew Balding. This lightly raced 3yo came from off the pace, but I liked the way she finished off the contest. Onassis looked fine/well and I thought she ran a cracking race in fourth. She made her move on the wide outside which proved to be a disadvantage on the straight course. Cloak Of Spirit has not really progressed this season. It may be why she has found it hard to get her head in front. Dancing Vega, Lyzbeth and Jouska were all starting to go in their coats.
The substantial Jubiloso looked the part, but I am not sure she is trained on from last year.
Derevo, this fella has looked the part, but was unlucky to be beaten in tight finishes. He looked all over the winner with a furlong to go, only for Straight Of Hormus to do him right on the line. This good looking 4yo deserves a change of luck. Caradoc looked fine/well, but hasn’t won since this time last year, and even though he ran with credit I never thought he was going to win. Starcat looked in tip top shape, but lacked the change of gear needed at the time and finished off the contest closing down the front three. Other horses that looked well were Mayfair Spirit and Hypothetical, who took the paddock honours, but was easily brushed aside with 2 furlongs to run.
Thursday, 10th September
Last year’s St Leger winner Logician returned to the track after 12 months absent looking well, and produced a pretty straight performance. I suspect we may see him on Champions Day. Next year we will see what he is made of in all the middle-distance events. Mythical Magic looked fine beforehand and even though he was no match for the winner he ran a respectable race.
Indigo Girl, Frankie Dettori won this race for the fifth time in his career, but believe it or not this was the first time he had teamed up with John Gosden. This once-raced daughter of Dubawi looked the part paddock side and produced a classy performance. She travelled strongly on the stands’ side, and it was only when she hit the front with a furlong to go, that her inexperience took hold. John Gosden looks to have a high class filly on his hands. If the trainer has any Classic aspirations, it’s worth noting only Height Of Fashion, Midway Lady, Reams Of Verse and Laurens have gone on to win at the highest level. The well-made Dubai Fountain looked a picture of health and recorded the best run of her career. The favourite Zabeel Queen is not the biggest, but you couldn’t fault her appearance. A little headstrong she moved up and looked a big player, but her final effort petered out. Lilac Road looked as if she will be seen at her best next season. Placed behind the leaders she couldn’t quicken initially, but stayed on at one pace towards the end. Prado looked the weakest member of the field, but I think this was a race too soon given the way she ran at Goodwood.
Uncle Jumbo, I liked this fella when I saw him at York three weeks ago and felt he had taken a major step forward. He was prominent throughout and when asked to seal the race he quickened, but was unable to stamp his authority and hung slightly approaching the line. I still feel this was down to inexperience and hopefully he will be a different candidate when he next appears. Line Of Departure has enjoyed a good season and turned up here looking in good order. Travelling strongly in midfield, this colt by Mahmas quickened to the front and always did enough to hold on to victory. Yazaman looked fine beforehand, but is becoming an awkward ride. Placed in midfield he wouldn’t go forward when initially asked, and it was not until well inside the final furlong that he responded only to go down narrowly in the finish. Dark Lion, who looked fine/well, came back to decent form when he secured fourth place. I think he will be better off going back up in trip. Other horses that looked in good nick were Titan Rock, North Of Amazing, Tommy Tittlemouse and Sky Blue Thinking.
Pista became the first 3yo to win this race since 2015. This lengthy filly, who came here on the back of two victories, looked a class apart compared to her six opponents and provided Joseph O’Brian with his first victory in this Group 2 event. She travelled strongly out the back and when asked it took her a stride or two to understand what was needed, hitting the line strong. Vivionn, who didn’t look great in her coat, ran well to secure some black type. The favourite Believe In Love looked very small paddock side and even though she ran a lifetime best, she could only finish in third position. Two other fillies I didn’t mind in the paddock were Snow and Monica Sheriff.
Friday, 11th September
Alfaatik, who looked fighting fit, kind of threw away this Class 2 handicap. Travelling out the back he was still hard on the bridle when starting to make headway with three furlongs to go, but for one reason or another he wouldn’t go forward when initially asked, and it was not until late in the the race he responded. Apparate, this well-made type did not take the eye paddock side and considering this was only his second start of the season I was a touch disappointed, but Roger Varian’s 4yo put his best foot forward to see him come out on top. The top-weight Volcanic Sky looked fit and well, and ran well to a point, but found no extra in the closing stages. I thought Calculation looked well, but he didn’t run on until it was too late.
A competitive field lined-up for this Group 2 over 5 furlongs which saw the 40-1 outsider Ubettabelieveit prevail by a narrow margin. Racing down the centre of the track, this 2yo by Kodiac skipped his way through the field and when he hit the front he was not for passing. Sacred, who looked fit and well, was slightly undone by the way the race unfolded. She raced on the near side with two other opponents and had to make her way home with a furlong to go. Even though she went over to challenge the winner, the winning post came in time. Measure Of Magic, this compact filly looked fine beforehand and ran a respectable race in third to gain some black type. Steel Bull looked in good order, but it looks as if he has plateaued because he was beaten when he was short of room.
Other 2yo’s I didn’t mind were Mohawk King, Frenetic and Winter Power.
This was not the strongest renewal of this prestigious race, which saw Spanish Mission bolt up by 3 lengths. I suspect the next stop will be the Long Distance Cup at Ascot next month. Selino looked fine beforehand and was a touch headstrong from the start. I thought overall this was a creditable performance. The 3yo Revolver looked magnificent, but I think if Luke Morris could ride the race again he wouldn’t sit so far out of his ground. Eagles By Day looked the part, but ran like a non-stayer.
After paddock appearance I thought a good field had assembled. The pick of the paddock was Laneqash. This sizeable type by Cable Bay has taken a step forward since his victory at Ascot last month. Placed in midfield, he came through strongly to hit the front, but showed his inexperience by drifting over to his left and causing slight interference to One Ruler. New Mandate is not the biggest, but showed a fair amount of guts to come through a small gap against the rails to win by a head. The favourite One Ruler looked in good nick, and as he made his move through the field he was short of room inside the final furlong, but I am not sure it cost him victory in the end. Royal Scimitar bounced back from a poor performance to finish in fourth. This was a lot more like it. Thank You Next came from off the pace to run on strongly, but was never a challenger to the front four.
I thought as a whole this race contained some nice 2yo’s and John Leeper was the standout. This colt by Frankel is out of the Oaks winner Snow Fairy, and had a touch of class about him, but you could see he was carrying plenty of condition. In the race itself he was given an educational ride and will be a lot wiser when he next appears. The winner Tawaareq got very warm in the preliminaries and I was slightly concerned. However, it didn’t prevent him from putting his best foot forward to come out on top. This colt possesses plenty of size and scope to improve. Cordouan looked straight enough for his debut, and I thought he came out showing plenty of promise. He led at the two-furlong marker and I like the way he responded all the way to the line. Crossford looked a colt with some potential, but looked inexperienced from the start and it was not until the final furlong he got the hang of racing. He will do a lot better next time.
Other horses that will improve are Taravara, Isla Kai and Tromso.
Saturday, 12th September
Since 1974, this race has been won by some outstanding 2yo’s in Grundy, Wallow, Don’t Forget Me, Warning and Too Darn Hot, and this year’s renewal looked well above average. I was taken by the second-placed horse Albasheer. This once-raced colt by Shammardal towered over his opponents. As the race got underway he travelled powerfully in midfield and was left on the wide outside as he came to make his challenge. He didn’t understand how to kill the race off, but I think if he meets the winner again he will come out on top. Owen Burrow’s juvenile has plenty of scope to make a 3yo. The not overly big Chindit looked full of health and came here with some strong form to his name. As he moved through to contest the lead against the rails, you could see he knew what was needed because with a shake of the reigns he quickened and did enough to win by a length. Hopefully the first two will meet in the Dewhurst next month. State Of Rest looked unfurnished compared to the front two, but stepped up to finish an honourable third. Looking at him, he will be a lot better next season along with Mujbar, who was left behind and finished in fourth.
Wichita is a grand type, but as the race was underway he looked in trouble with 2 furlongs to go, but somehow Frankie Dettori conjured a run out of this colt which saw him prevail by a short head. One Master, who looked bright and well, lost nothing in defeat and when she came with a storming run I thought she was bound to win. Next stop is France where she will try to defend her win in the Foret. Molatham was bursting with health and for most of the race looked a big player, but found very little in the closing stages and was brushed aside by the front two. Urban Icon and Limato both turned up here looking in rude health. The latter was disappointing, but his yard only had seven winners this season.
Galileo Chrome became Joseph O’Brien’s first Classic winner in England. This good-bodied colt was bursting with health and his jockey had him nice and relaxed in midfield. As the race hotted up, he came under pressure with a furlong to go and the more his jockey asked, the greater his mount responded to give Tom Marquand his first Classic winner. Berkshire Rocco looked in good nick and took his form to another level by securing second place. He gave everything in the finish, but was simply beaten by a stronger stayer. Pyledriver looked fine, but was headstrong from the moment the stalls opened, and it took him a while to drop the bridle. He moved into contention, but I think he got the trip. What cost him was the first two furlongs of this race. His trainer has selected the Champion Stakes as his next port of call.
The well-made Santiago looked terrific, but the way he performed suggests he may need slightly softer ground. Essentially he lacks a change of gear. Hukum came here looking well and you couldn’t fault the muscle definition on him. As he turned in to the home straight he looked full of running, and was one of the last horses off the bridle with two furlongs to go, but his final effort petered out because of his lack of stamina. He reminds me of Crystal Ocean who ran in this race in 2017. Other horses that looked in rude health were Dawn Patrol and the massive Tyson Fury.
Star performance of the week
Frankie Dettori, because the way he won on Foxtrot Lady, New Mandate and Wichita were a joy to watch. I felt all three in one way or another appreciated his artistry in the saddle.
Horse to note
Moktasaab was the greenest horse in the paddock and was shouting all the way into the main ring. In the race itself, he did plenty wrong throughout the contest, but ended up finishing fourth.