British racing’s first crowd in almost six months can look forward to a spectacle on day one of Doncaster’s Pertemps St Leger Festival, with Breathtaking Look set to defend her crown in the Sceptre Fillies’ Stakes.
On a card which also features the crowd-pleasing Mondialiste Leger Legends Classified Stakes – this year for current jockeys rather than those retired – and the Listed Scarbrough Stakes, the Sceptre provides the Group Three highlight next Wednesday, and has attracted an initial entry of 24.
Day one of four on Town Moor will be largely notable for the return of a crowd limited to under 4,000 as measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic begin to be eased.
It appears likely to be a big day too for Breathtaking Look, who last weekend won her first race since claiming glory 12 months ago – landing short odds in a Group Three at Deauville.
After her successful French trip, trainer Stuart Williams hinted the defence of her Sceptre title may be her swansong at the age of five.
There are plenty of potential stumbling blocks to the valedictory, though, with Richard Hannon’s 1000 Guineas runner-up Cloak Of Spirits and Charlie Fellowes’ Royal Ascot winner Onassis among her possible rivals.
Naas Listed winner Bounce The Blues – who has since been sold to join Andrew Balding’s stable, from Johnny Feane in Ireland – is another to catch the eye.
Johnny Murtagh’s Champers Elysees is also in the reckoning at this stage, following her victory in this week’s rescheduled Group Three Fairy Bridge Stakes at Gowran.
Her trainer has already nominated a high-profile target at Irish Champions Weekend for her – but Paddy Twomey’s Pearls Galore, runner-up in the Fairy Bridge, is also a possible Doncaster runner.
The five-furlong Scarbrough Stakes has attracted a 16-strong entry – including Michael Dods’ Que Amoro, beaten only by the mighty Battaash in the Nunthorpe at York last time.
Nigel Tinkler’s York juvenile Listed winner Acklam Express will be chasing a fourth successive victory if in attendance to take on his elders.
Among them are a clutch of evergreen speedsters such as Dods’ Beverley Bullet winner Dakota Gold, stablemate Queens Gift – runner-up last year – and John Quinn’s El Astronaute.