Doncaster’s four-day St Leger meeting starts on Wednesday, with the feature event - the oldest Classic - taking place on Saturday. But there are plenty of betting markets to get stuck into before then and these five horses might just be the best bets for Doncaster’s St Leger meeting:
With the St Leger meeting set to begin on ground the soft side of good, conditions will be ideal for Robert Cowell's rejuvenated sprinter Global Applause in Wednesday’s Scarbrough Stakes. He’s among four runners rated 100 or higher in the race, and it really should be between them.
A smart juvenile who lowered the colours of Mehmas in the Listed National Stakes, Global Applause never really went on to fulfil his promise for Ed Dunlop, finishing well beaten when last seen out for that trainer in May.
He looked a different proposition when making his stable debut at Sandown 11 days ago (5f, good to soft), running out an easy winner under Wednesday's rider Gerald Mosse, despite challenging on what looked the slowest part of the track.
The second, Intense Romance, won at Haydock on Saturday to give the form a timely boost and there should be more to come from the winner, who has terrific gate speed and has run well at this track previously. Back Global Applause to win the Scarbrough Stakes at 11/4 with William Hill.
I've got the utmost respect for Horseplay, who arrives in Thursday’s Park Hill Stakes off the back of her fourth in the Yorkshire Oaks, but she's got a job on conceding almost a stone in weight to the year younger Pilaster.
Roger Varian's filly is a three-year-old on the up, and proved she stays this far when just getting up to beat Maid Up over 1m6f at Glorious Goodwood. The second has since gained won a Group 3, so the form is sound, and there should be plenty more to come from Pilaster after just four starts.
She's in the Group 1 Fillies & Mares on Champions Day and also holds an entry in Sunday's Group 1 Prix Vermeille at Longchamp, but she's jocked up for this (Andrea Atzeni takes the reins) and will appreciate any give in the ground, which seems likely. The return to form of her stable - seven winners this month and counting - is another positive and seals the bet.
Back Pilaster to win Thursday’s Park Hill Stakes at 7/4 with Bet365.
There are easier races to solve than Thursday's fillies' nursery over 6 1/2f, but the temptation to find one (for readers) in the betting at a price is hard to resist, and 10/1 about Strict Tempo to win is worth snapping up with Bet365.
She is "very well handicapped", according to her trainer Andrew Balding’s stable tour last week, and gets into this contest amongst the bottom weights. She got off the mark at the fourth time of asking at Nottingham last month, having been found out in a hot Newmarket maiden previously, and now the penny has dropped she can only kick on.
She's a half-sister to 6f winners Dancing Star and Foxtrot Lady, who run in the same blue colours of Jeff Smith, and she's going to get better with age, so I'm sure she'll rate a good deal higher than her current mark of 77 in time. With her stable continuing in great form (10-36 in the last fortnight), she's a good bet to give us a run for our money under David Probert.
Ben Vrackie was among the favourites for the Mallard Handicap at York, but instead ran in a three-runner Group 3 at Goodwood, which looked easier pickings at the time. He was 11/10 favourite in the betting, but could only second behind Maid Up, who won comfortably.
That wasn't such a bad run when you consider how smart the winner is, having finished a narrow second in a Group 2 previously, and now been added to St Leger field. As for Ben Vrackie, he's now going down the handicap route, and while he's on a stiff enough mark (104), he gets into Friday's Mallard Handicap off a handy 9st 1lb.
He's still learning his job, and is going to be even better at four, but Gosden clearly thinks he's up to the task and has booked Frankie to ride him in this 1m6 1/2f contest. At 8/1 to win with Coral, he’ll be carrying my cash for sure.
Should trainer William Haggas decide to run Seductive in Saturday's 1m nursery, I wouldn't want to be on anything else. Her initial mark of 77 looks far too low, and the step up to a mile is absolutely what she needs at this stage of her career. That was certainly the impression she gave when making her debut over 6f at Lingfield in July, as she took an age to pick up, before seeing out her race well to take second behind the now 95-rated Ajrar.
It was a similar story on her next start at Chelmsford, again over 6f and second, and last time out when returned to the same track to try 7f for the first time. She was soundly beaten on that occasion, but the winner Fox Coach has gone in again since to earn a rating of 91.
It therefore doesn't take a genius to work out Seductive is well-treated at Doncaster and as a half-sister to Under Control, who won over 1m as a juvenile, she will relish this stiffer test. When the horse racing betting opens on Thursday, she's the best bet for Saturday's Doncaster card.
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