Aidan O’Brien will saddle five of the dozen runners who will contest tomorrow’s oldest and final classic of the season the St Leger from Doncaster. The race was given a huge fillip on Wednesday evening when John Gosden and Andrew (Lord) Lloyd Webber announced the unbeaten filly Lah Ti Dar would take on the boys and bypass the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp on Sunday.
I’m not convinced it is the correct decision, but if she stays she wins as I am convinced she is top class. Lah Ti Dar has taken over at the top of the market at 7/4 with BetVictor, antepost favourite Kew Gardens is out to 2/1.
In today’s Doncaster opener Laugh Aloud (1.50) is on something of a retrieval mission having disappointed on her belated seasonal debut at Sandown at the beginning of the month. Connections did suggest the mare would come on for the run, but she will have to as she drops back to 7f from a mile. The selection (3/1 at BetVictor) is likely to be ridden more aggressively today and could easily get a soft lead. James Doyle was sympathetic on his mount when her chance had gone at Sandown and the hope is that that compassion is rewarded this afternoon.
I’m sure there is more to come from Reverend Jacobs in the Mallard Handicap but my two against the field are Just In Time and Austrian School (3.00) with marginal preference for the latter who deserves to win a big race having run very well in defeat all season.
Mark Johnston’s three-year-old has improved for the step up to 2m in recent starts although this extended mile-and-three-quarters should be ideal on such a big galloping track. The colt would be carrying an additional 2lbs if the race was run at the weekend and Joe Fanning will ensure the race is run at a true gallop. At 8/1 with BetVictor (four places) I would be disappointed if he didn’t make the frame and is an each way recommendation.
The Doncaster Cup is a moderate renewal of this Group 2 contest and I take Thomas Hobson (3.35) to go one better than last year when he had the 2016 winner Sheikhzayedroad – who reopposes today – a head back in third. Willie Mullins saddles three of the eight-strong field, all in the colours of leading jumps owner Rich Ricci, including the selection who is 9/4 with BetVictor.
There are some beautifully bred newcomers in the field for the 7f juvenile Maiden including John Gosden’s Turgenev who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori and holds an entry in the Racing Post Trophy back here next month. He will have to be pretty good, however, to beat stablemate Buffalo River (4.40) who looked smart when worried out of it close home at Sandown on debut.
Jack Regan (5.45) has been dropped 2lbs for finishing fourth in a valuable soft ground handicap at Goodwood last time which has enabled Ian Williams’s three-year-old to compete in this 0-85 event. Today’s better ground will suit, Ryan Moore takes over in the saddle and the yard are in cracking form.
At Chester Indomitable can go one better than when second in the valuable Convivial Maiden at York’s Ebor meeting last month. At a bigger price I’m also looking forward to seeing Jabbaar (4.45) in the 1m 6f handicap for Iain Jardine and Jamie Gormley. The selection invariably runs well around these tight turns and he ran as well as ever when runner up in a valuable Hamilton handicap from a 2lbs lower mark last month.
At Sandown The Last Emperor (5.30) has yet to prove he gets 10f but the Roger Varian yard are in good form and he looked ready for a return to 10f when second at the Esher track when last seen back in July.