No surprise to hear John Gosden confirm yesterday that his unbeaten grey Logician would be aimed at the St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday week. The son of Frankel remains 5/4 at BetVictor for classic glory, but the impression is that connections are as hopeful as confident that their colt will stay the extended mile-and-three-quarter mile trip of the last classic of the year.
The ground at Haydock yesterday morning was described as soft (good to soft in places) ahead of today’s card – the first of their three-day September meeting which culminates on Saturday with the Gp 1 Sprint Cup.
It may be significant that the maiden that Danyah (2.20) won at Nottingham last month was won by the same owner’s Eqtidaar back in 2017 and the latter went on to land the Commonwealth Cup as a three-year-old. Owen Burrows’ colt did show a high knee action at Colwick Park and it is likely that he will always need plenty of juice in the ground to be seen at his best.
A market move for either of the well-bred newcomers Moosmee and Oakenshield would be worth noting.
The Golden Horn colt Grand Bazaar (2.50) would not have to be anything special to make a winning debut for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori in the Mile Novice event. The colt holds an entry in next year’s Derby although his dam was a winning sprinter and there are mixed messages as to how far he will get next year.
I hope it is a good day for Gosden as his Illumined (3.25) can return to winning ways on her handicap debut. The filly really should have won at Kempton last time when she tracked too strong a pace and was run out of it close home trying to give weight to her rivals. The third – who was receiving 6lbs – has since come out and easily won a handicap from a mark of 77. Illumined could be well-treated from an opening mark of 85 and the drop back in trip to 10f is not a concern given how well she travelled last time.
This represents a drop in grade for Asoof and young Cieren Fallon is riding out of his skin at present and stole the finale at Windsor on Monday evening on Culture. A bigger danger may come from Specialise who looked an unlucky loser at Chelmsford last time and was an impressive winner at Lingfield on her penultimate start. The ground was described as good to soft at Lingfield although the time of the race suggested it was no worse than good.
It is six years since Gordon Lord Byron (3.50) won the Sprint Cup here over 6f but the wonderful Tom Hogan does appear to have found a winning opportunity for his 11-year-old. The veteran has not won since May 2017 but has run some excellent races in defeat and the booking of Frankie Dettori suggests connections believe there is at least one last hurrah in the gelding.
The Group 3 Dick Poole Stakes at Salisbury for juvenile fillies is the feature contest of the day. I was disappointed with Summer Romance at Ascot last time when she was a beaten odds on favourite in the Princess Margaret Stakes. Yes, the filly met trouble in running but she was never going with the same verve that had seen her win her opening couple of starts and only one favourite has scored in this race in the last decade.
The Irish raider Millisle (3.40) got up close home to win a listed race at the Curragh last time over 5f and the hope is that she can follow up stepping up to six furlongs for the first time. There is certainly plenty of stamina in Jessica Harrington’s daughter of Starspangledbanner on the distaff side and I hope she can sit just behind the leaders on the far rail and pounce fast and late.
In the finale, the three-year-old maidens Alhaazhm – visored for the first time – and Starfighter (4.40) have proved frustrating to date but I feel the latter can finally break his duck returning to 10f. The selection has finished runner up in his last three starts but, if the ground is no worse than good, I feel Ed Walker’s three-year-old can finally break his maiden tag.
Lady Mascara did us a favour when scoring Brighton from a 5lbs lower mark last time, but I feel the 10f fillies handicap at Lingfield Park rests between Nearooz and Hallalulu (6.50) with preference for the latter who is having his first start for Mark Johnston.
The selection was bought for 50,000 gns at Tattersalls horses-in-training sales back in July so she has had plenty of time to acclimatise to her new training regime in Middleham. She stayed 12f well enough at Haydock on her final start for Haggas and the hope is that Jason Hart makes plenty of use of the filly given she drops back in trip by a couple of furlongs today.