THE Doncaster Cup is the feature race on day three of the St Leger meeting and it could be worth siding with Sheikhzayedroad to maintain his unbeaten record at the Yorkshire venue (3.35).
David Simcock’s eight-year-old landed this same prize 12 months ago under Martin Harley, who rides again on Friday, and the bay gelding is two from two at the track.
A gutsy winner last year, Sheikhzayedroad followed up on good ground at Ascot on Champions Day in a terrific renewal of the Long Distance Cup.
Montaly evidently has bags of talent but he’s not without his quirks and I’m happy to take him on with Sheikhzayedroad, who can enhance his love-affair with Doncaster.
Another winner on this card a year ago, Normandy Barriere, may just have been primed for a big tilt at the Lakeside Village Outlet Handicap (4.35).
Nigel Tinkler’s five-year-old won over course and distance last season off a mark of 91 before following up earlier this year at Ascot off today’s mark of 96. He’s found life a little tough since but the handicapper has repented and Silvestre De Sousa is a really eye-catching booking.
The soft ground is a slight unknown but there was encouragement in the timings of Wednesday’s races that the ground is still riding relatively well, and if this doesn’t turn into a slog then Tinkler’s charge can come good under the champion jockey elect.
Closer to home, Chester stage a competitive seven furlong handicap (3.55) and Penwortham (nap) can defy a 6lb rise for in-form trainer Richard Fahey.
Winner of this race 12 months ago, Fahey’s four-year-old bolted up over course and distance in a Class 2 handicap two weeks ago, despite being held up, hampered on the final bend and forced to switch in the run.
That took Penwortham’s form on the Roodee to 21251 – he clearly has a liking for the place – and the form of his second place in the MBNA Handicap in May has worked out superbly.
In addition, Penwortham drops in class here, very able claimer Sebastian Woods takes off 7lb and he’s well drawn in stall five. If he doesn’t win, there’s no excuses.
In the Stardust Liverpool Handicap (5.40), confined to gentleman amateur riders, Donald McCain may just have the answer with Know Your Name, who runs off a mark of 63.
The gelding sneaks in here off a low weight, is well drawn in stall six, and – most importantly in a race of this nature – has the best jockey on board in the shape of James King, who made giant strides in the plate during the 2016/17 National Hunt season. At a likely big price, he’s worth chancing.
If the weather forecasters have it right, the St Leger Stakes itself (Saturday, 3.35) looks like being run on soft ground and that’ll be no hindrance to last time out Newmarket scorer Raheen House, who can outrun odds of 12/1.
Brian Meehan’s charge idled in front when landing the Bahrain Trophy Stakes at HQ in July and the final Classic of the season was immediately targeted.
Given too much to do when fourth in a hot-renewal of the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, Jamie Spencer rode the 110-rated colt handily at Newmarket and was rewarded with a fairly decisive victory.
Upped in trip and with Meehan reporting in the week that soft ground will be no problem for his charge, Raheen House looks the bet in a tricky race, with Adam Kirby a positive jockey booking.