Steve Hughes has selections for Leger day at Doncaster
Top class racing today with the first of the Champions weekend in Ireland and the final – and best – day of the Leger Festival at Doncaster including the final English classic of the season itself. I am concentrating primarily on Doncaster, but with a best bet from Chelmsford’s decent card this afternoon as well.
Doncaster 1.50: Roundhay Park & Holmeswood
Two against the field for the Portland and with the far side appearing slightly favoured on the straight course I have two horses drawn in single figures.
Roundhay Park has been in great form all summer with only one finishing position outside the first four in eight races. A wide margin winner on seasonal debut at Ripon in April, he was understandably upped to a mark in the 90’s. However he has shown he is up to that mark in higher grades since. He was only narrowly beaten over 6f in the Shergar Cup last month, coming with his trademark fast finish. He has come up slightly short in two races at York since, but will prefer this track which favours hold up horses far more.
Holmeswood looks to be coming good and was a strong third at the Ebor meeting at York over this interim trip. He was doing his best work in the final furlong that day and front-runners tend to come back more easily at Doncaster which will be in his favour. He was probably in the grip of the handicapper earlier in the season. That was off the back of a hat-trick last summer, culminating in victory at York. However his mark is now a 1lb lower than for that last win and this 5 1/2f trip looks perfect.
Doncaster 2.25: D’Bai
A real 7f specialist and probably just below the quality required to be a Group 1 performer, D’Bai will be in his element at this trip and in Group 2 class.
He has run two respectable races of late in France, but over too short a trip and can be excused his last run over 7f at Goodwood where the quirky track did not appear to suit. He is better judge on a smooth win at Haydock in a Group 3 earlier in the summer.
He acts on any ground and I think this straight 7f will suit – he was impressive when winning over a mile on Ascot’s straight track in a handicap last summer and jockey William Buick can simply ease him into the contest for a full effort in the closing stages.
Chelmsford 3.25: Fennaan
All Fennaan’s best form has been on sand and that was exemplified by a good win at Kempton on his return to an artificial surface last time. He can back that up with another win at Chelmsford last time.
He is a keen sort who will always be best in a good level handicap where the early pace should be sufficient enough to allow him to settle. He has an ideal berth as well in stall one to get plenty of cover. A 3lb rise from Kempton is not much of a burden.
He has been kept to this 7f trip throughout and had previously won again at Kempton in the spring when making most. His turf form had been solid if not spectacular during the summer, but he might well be ahead of the handicapper now he looks likely to concentrate on the All Weather.
Doncaster 3.35: Kew Gardens
Rain in Yorkshire yesterday has contributed to a drift in price for Kew Gardens, but I am happy to keep the faith in Aidan O’Brien’s colt, especially with the stable now back in top gear.
Kew Gardens himself has been progressive all summer. He was ridden positively earlier in the season, presumably to make use of his proven stamina. However he was well beaten in the Epsom Derby and that prompted a re-think in which hold up tactics have been adopted since.
They paid immediate dividends when landing the Queens Vase over this trip at Royal Ascot in June. He then followed up in Group 1 company at Longchamp the following month. Arguably he was given too much to do at York behind Old Persian last time – a track that can be difficult to make up ground on. However he finished off strongly that day and will prefer this stiffer track and extra 2f. The ground is drying again at Doncaster so he should not be inconvenienced by that.
1pt win – Holmeswood – 1.50 Doncaster – 11/2 general
0.75pts each-way – Roundhay Park – 1.50 Doncaster – 28/1 William Hill (1/5 odds first 6)
1.5pts win – D’Bai – 2.25 Doncaster – 9/2 general
1pt win – Fennaan – 3.25 Chelmsford – 5/2 general
1pt win – Kew Gardens – 3.35 Doncaster – 3/1 general