Horse racing punters look to be in for a real treat this week as the four-day St Leger meeting takes place at Doncaster, whilst the Irish Champions Stakes takes place at Leopardstown. However, the race of the week could be the Champagne Stakes, with four of the season’s most exciting two-year-olds possibly set to do battle. Other highlights include the Doncaster Cup and the Matron Stakes.
Doncaster (Wednesday 12 September)
DC Training and Development Services Scarbrough Stakes
DC Training and Development Services Scarbrough Stakes
The Scarbrough Stakes is a Listed Race run over 5 furlongs and 3 yards. It was first run in 1983 and has been won by notable types in recent years, including Group 1 winning horses Sole Power, Mecca’s Angel, and Prohibit. The race is open to horses aged two and upwards, though no two-year-old has won the race so far.
Sunsprite may try and override that statistic this year though, and this three-time winner would get plenty of weight from his older rivals if taking up the challenge. There are plenty of decent older horses amongst the entries, including El Astronaute, Final Venture, Global Applause, and Marnie James, a quartet that are all rated 100+. Last year’s winner Encore D’or also looks sure to line up with Ryan Moore already booked to do the steering.
Doncaster (Thursday 13 September)
William Hill May Hill Stakes
The May Hill Stakes is a Group 2 Race for two-year-old fillies which is run over a one mile. First run in 1976, it has been won by some high-class fillies including Height Of Fashion, Midway Lady, Reams Of Verse, White Moonstone, and Laurens. Godolphin has owned four of the last eight winners and look sure to be represented this year by one or both of the once-raced winners Dubai Beauty and Ceratonia.
However, they may not have things all their own way, as the last three winning trainers could also be represented. Karl Burke could saddle Divinity who has won her last two races, whilst Ralph Beckett has Sand Share entered for Khalid Abdullah. Meanwhile, Jim Bolger, who won the 2015 renewal with Turrett Rocks, could saddle Bandiuc Eile.
DFS Park Hill Stakes
The Park Hill Stakes dates all the way back to 1839 and is currently a Group 2 Race for fillies and mares aged three and older run over a trip of 1 mile 6 furlongs and 115 yards. Famous winners include May Hill, who the preceding race is named after, as well as Shoot A Line, Swiftfoot, Allegretto, and Simple Verse.
Trainer Ralph Beckett has won the last two renewals and could be represented this time by Mountain Bell and Isabel de Urbina. However, higher-rated fillies include Horseplay and Pilcaster, with the latter on a four-timer. Meanwhile, Maid Up is a three-year-old in very good form after winning four of her last five starts. She also boasts a win at Doncaster.
Doncaster (Friday 14 September)
Wainwrights Flying Childers Stakes
The Flying Childers Stakes is a Group 2 Race for two-year-olds that is run over 5 furlongs and 3 yards. It was first run in 1976 and its most famous winner is Green Desert, whilst other notable winners include Mummy’s Pet, Gentle Thoughts, Paris House, and Fleeting Spirit. The Hannon stable has trained four of the last eight winners and looks sure to be represented by either Well Done Fox or Good Luck Fox. However, the likes of Legends Of War, Sergei Prokofiev, Rumble In The Jungle, and Soldier’s Call are all rated higher.
Doncaster Cup Stakes
The Doncaster Cup is a Group 2 Race run over 2 miles 1 furlong and 197 yards, which means it is roughly run at a distance halfway between that of the Ascot Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup. It dates back to 1766 and is open to horses aged three and older. Popular recent winners of the Doncaster Cup include Double Trigger, Persian Punch, Millenary, Septimus, and Estimate. However, in recent years, it has failed to attract the top stayers, and it’s notable that Stradivarius is absent from this year’s line-up.
Top Irish Jumps Trainer Willie Mullins has been trying to win the race in recent years and has three possible entries this year, including last year’s runner-up Thomas Hobson. However, the likely favourite is Aidan O’Brien’s Idaho, who was last at Doncaster in 2016 when unseating when favourite for that year’s St Leger.
Doncaster (Saturday 15 September)
Alan Wood Plumbing And Heating Park Stakes
The Park Stakes is a Group 2 Race run over 7 furlongs and 6 yards. It is open to horses aged three and older and, having been first run in 1978, it has been won by notable horses such as Tap On Wood, Known Fact, Soviet Line, Pastoral Pursuits, and Limato. Sir Dancelot is amongst the early entries but will surely miss the race after slogging through the Haydock mud last weekend. However, that still leaves a few course winners in the line-up including Breton Rock, Dream Of Dreams, and Oh This Is Us.
Howcroft Industrial Supplies Champagne Stakes
The Champagne Stakes is one of the most prestigious two-year-old races of the season and dates back all the way to 1823. It is a Group 2 Race run over 7 furlongs and 6 yards and has been won by the likes of Wollow, Don’t Forget Me, Warning, Rodrigo de Triano, Alhaarth, Distant Memory, Dubai Destination, and Toronado.
The 2018 Champagne Stakes could be a thriller if all the leading protagonists turn up and one or two big reputations may be enhanced or crushed in the process. The ratings are headed by John Gosden’s dual Sandown winner Too Darn Hot, whilst Charlie Appleby could saddle the unbeaten Quorto. Mark Johnston’s Dark Vision also impressed many clock-watchers when winning at Glorious Goodwood, whilst impressive Gimcrack winner Phoenix Of Spain is another possible winner.
William Hill St Leger Stakes
The St Leger is England’s fifth and final classic of the season, as well as being the oldest classic. First run in 1776, it has produced some thrilling finishes, with a variety of high-class horses failing to see out the trip of 1 mile 6 furlongs and 117 yards. Notable winners include Nijinsky, who won the triple crown in 1970, as well as Dunfermline, Oh So Sharp, User Friendly, Moonax, Conduit, and Capri. Kew Gardens has been a strong fancy since winning at Royal Ascot for Aidan O’Brien, though it could be argued that Joseph O’Brien’s Latrobe achieved more when winning the Irish Derby. Meanwhile, this has been a long-term target for Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee.
Leopardstown (Saturday 15 September)
Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes
The Matron Stakes is a Group 1 Race run over a mile that is open to fillies and mares aged three and older. In 2002, the race was moved to Leopardstown, since when it has been won by multiple Group 1 winning fillies Soviet Song, Attraction, Legatissimo, and Alice Springs. Alpha Centauri, another multiple group 1 winning filly, looks likely to add her name to the role of honour this year.
Qipco Irish Champion Stakes
The Irish Champions Stakes always seems to be one of the races of the season, and this Group 1 contest takes place over 10 furlongs. Only established in 1976, the race’s role of honour is stunning, and includes Sadler’s Wells, Triptych, Carroll House, Dr Devious, Pentire, Pilsudski, Daylami, Giant’s Causeway, Sea The Stars, and Golden Horn. This year could see Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior go head to head once again.