STICK with the Old routine to find the winner of the St Leger at Doncaster, the final Classic of the season (3.35).
The best trial is usually York’s Great Voltigeur and OLD PERSIAN won it in fine style, having been well backed to do just that.
Kew Gardens also ran an excellent race, staying on well to be third and plenty were keen to point out he was carrying a 5lb Group 1 penalty.
But Old Persian also had an extra burden, an additional 3lb as a Group 2 winner and, on that basis, there should be little between them now.
Plus Old Persian’s earlier form is much more solid.
He won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, with Irish Derby runner-up Rostropovich in second, a much stronger affair than the Queen’s Vase landed by Kew Gardens earlier that week.
Old Persian has progressed all season, the only blip being his sixth in the Irish Derby.
But that race was just eight days after his Ascot exertions and trainer Charlie Appleby was quick to admit that had been too big an ask.
Kew Gardens has proved he gets the Leger trip but Old Persian, by Dubawi out of a Singspiel mare, has been staying on strongly when winning at 1m4f and is unlikely to be found wanting for stamina.
John Gosden has upset this week’s betting by opting to run Lah Ti Dar here rather than at Longchamp on Sunday. She was hugely impressive when winning at York but the form is questionable and she faces a much stiffer test here.
Dee Ex Bee looked sure to end up as Leger favourite after his staying-on second in the Derby but he has raced three times since and has not progressed as expected.
The longer trip on softer ground should suit him but he is a dodgy betting proposition at present.
If there is a dark horse in the race it is Loxley, who has been winning in France, showing progressive form.
He only has a little to find to be in the shake-up.
Maid Up is an improving filly who has been supplemented for this and had place prospects earlier in the week but the unexpected declarations of Lah Ti Dar and Loxley may have scuppered her chance.
Betting Spy’s top tips for Saturday
- 1.50 Doncaster – Blue De Vega
- 2.25 Doncaster – Oh This Is Us
- 2.40 Chester – Hochfeld
- 3.00 Doncaster – Too Darn Hot
- 3.25 Chester – George
- 3.35 Doncaser – Old Persian
The meeting opens with the Portland Handicap (1.50), one of the great traditional sprints of the Flat season.
And this one’s intermediate trip of just more than five and a half furlongs should be perfect for BLUE DE VEGA.
He has been staying on strongly over the minimum trip and is just 1lb higher than when winning at Ascot in July. The ground will be fine, Robert Cowell is one of the best trainers of sprinters around and the booking of Frankie Dettori suggests connections are hopeful!
The draw at Doncaster is rarely crucial but a high berth, close to the stands’ rail, is usually a slight advantage so Blue de Vega is ideally berthed in box 21.
All he needs is some luck in running. The dangers are plentiful – Golden Apollo, Orvar, Duke Of Firenze, Open Wide, Roundhay Park and Holmeswood are just some of them!
Mustashry looks set to go off favourite for the Park Stakes (2.25) and he is top on official ratings. But all his form is at a mile plus and that has to be a worry for a five-year-old.
In contrast OH THIS IS US boasts rock-solid form at this trip, including a course-and-distance success.
He also ran second in last year’s Lincoln on his only other appearance on Town Moor.
He won a hot handicap at Chester off a mark of 108 on his last start and Ryan Moore rides. He acts on any ground so has plenty in his favour.
D’Bai has been a shade disappointing since winning at Haydock in June while race-regular Breton Rock, who won it in 2016, probably needs very testing ground to threaten in this class these days.
I was keen to take on Too Darn Hot at Sandown last time, wrongly as it turned out! He was hugely impressive that day and, understandably, is odds-on for the Champagne Stakes (3.00).
I will not be making the same mistake again. He is not my kind of bet but, hopefully, he continues his progress.
At least the presence of Dark Vision and Phoenix Of Spain should make this a proper test and we may find out how good the favourite is. Darn good I suspect.
I spy an eyecatcher…
REPAUPO was a massive eyecatcher in the opening 7f novice race at Ascot last Saturday.
John Gosden’s juvenile, who holds an entry in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes next month, was given a hefty bump on leaving the stalls forcing him to be held up right at the back.
But he made good progress down the outside and was only beaten a head, with the first two almost two lengths clear of the field.
Repaupo will come on a bundle for the experience and will surely be winning soon.
At Chester HOCHFELD can take the feature race, the Stand Cup at 2.40. The old adage ‘horses for courses’ is nowhere more appropriate than around the Roodee and Hochfeld has two wins and a second from three visits.
The sole defeat came when he was just pipped by the classy Duretto on his last visit but he meets nothing of similar quality now.
The wide draw is an obvious negative but with only eight runners and 1m4f to travel that should not pose an insurmountable problem.
Sir Chauvelin would be a big worry over further so Blakeney Point is probably the biggest danger.
Chelmsford again host a good Saturday card with excellent prize-money and, by GEORGE, Sylvester Kirk can collect a sizeable chunk of it.
His progressive three-year-old of that name can land the £50,000 Elsenham Handicap at 3.25.
His latest Sandown second is better than it reads as he was hampered at a vital stage and his earlier Salisbury win is working out really well, with the second and third winning their next starts.
George has won at the track and, with fancied runners from the Gosden, Johnston and bin Suroor yards amongst the opposition George is sure to be decent each-way value.