Day 3 of the Doncaster St Leger meeting is the main event today and the nearer it gets to the eponymous race, the better the quality of the card, with 3 Group races and a Listed jobby to enjoy this afternoon.
Centrepiece is at 3.35 with the Doncaster Cup Stakes, a Group 2 over two and a quarter miles with nine going to post, including last year’s winner.
When it last ran, carrying our each way money, I promised never to mention this horse’s name again if it didn’t make the frame, so of course it came 4th and I intend to be true to my word. David Simcock’s charge came into last year’s race in really good form, but the same cannot be said this season. Added to this, the stable has not trained a single winner with its last 29 runners, so if it were to win today, instead of humming the title song* I will give a rendering of the Racing Cars hit of 1977**.
Stand out bet for me in this race is the only 3-y-o contender Desert Skyline, trained by David Elsworth. A staying on third in the Group 1 Qatar Goodwood Cup, beating half of today’s field in the process, this consistent gelding has since finished second in a Group 2 at Deauville over 15 furlongs. Unsurprisingly, it was staying on strongly at the finish and today’s trip is likely to bring out the very best of this ‘son’ of Tamayuz. At 7-2, we recommend a fair win bet.
The Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes at 1.50 is a 7f race for fillies and mares and sees the return to action of Talaayeb, who was our selection when winning the Group 3 City of York Stakes at the end of August. Favourite today at 4-1, this Guineas 4th is saddled with a penalty for the York win, which makes things more difficult. However, the untapped potential of this daughter of Dansili makes her worthy of a modest win bet.
Our main punt in this race is an e/w bet on Roger Varian’s Tomyris at an attractive 11-2. This 3-y-o finished just behind today’s rival Eternally in third in the Group 3 Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood, but was drawn very wide that day and we confidently expect the tables to be turned for a trainer who has won this race for the past two years.
The Wainwrights Flying Childers Stakes (Group 2) at 2.25 looks like a burn-up between Havana Grey and Heartache, with the pair dominating the betting. Much as we like the sheer consistency of the Karl Burke trained Havana Grey, the money should be firmly placed on Heartache to resume her steep upward curve, after a really unlucky defeat in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin, when she was knocked sideways coming out of the stalls and returned a bit battered and bruised. Given that she still managed to finish third and with her trainer reporting a complete recovery, this is a must for a ‘lump on’ at 13-8.
Proceedings kick off with the Listed Weatherbys Bank Foreign Exchange Flying Scotsman Stakes over 7f at 1.20 and in this we recommend a bet on Zaaki, trained by the renaissance man, Mohamed Moubarak. The only maiden in the field, this colt has finished a close 5th in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes and a close 4th in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes, so today’s race represents a drop in class and he should be backed at 7-2 to get us off to a cracking start.
Desert Skyline 3.35 win @ 7-2
Talaayeb 1.50 win @ 4-1
Tomyris 1.50 e/w @ 11-2
Heartache 2.25 win @ 13-8
Zaaki 1.20 win @ 7-2.
* ‘A horse with no name’ – America – 1971
** ‘They shoot horses, don’t they?’ – Racing Cars 1977