The UK is poised for another bumper weekend of horse racing, with all eyes on Doncaster as the iconic St. Ledger Festival reaches its exciting climax.
On Saturday 15th September, an estimated 30,000 racegoers will line up to see the William Hill St. Leger Stakes, the oldest of Britain’s five Classics.
Here, we look at where you should watch the horse racing this weekend…
Doncaster – Friday, 14th September
We start in Doncaster on Friday, where the third day of the St. Leger Festival is set to unfold.
There are eight races scheduled to take place on the Lakeside Village Gentleman’s Day, including four Class I events with generous prize funds. The standout race here is the Group II Doncaster Cup Stakes, which is part of the prestigious British Champions Series and will see the winner walk away with £56,710.
Despite a restricted field of just eight runners, this race is expected to be keenly contested, with all of the key contenders struggling to find their very best form in the build-up.
Take the 2/1 shot Thomas Hobson, for example, who is one of three Willie Mullins runners to compete for the Doncaster Cup. This talented eight-year old gelding will certainly start among the favourites here, despite the fact that he has not won on the flat since last years’ Ascot Stakes.
However, he finished second in the Doncaster Cup 12 months ago and this weekend could be an excellent opportunity for him to rediscover his winning form.
Mullins will also be hoping that another eight-year old horse in his stable fulfils his potential, with the talented Max Dynamite seeking his first flat win since Killarney last August. He’s certainly capable of winning here, with odds of around 10/1 sure to appeal to those who like an outside punt.
David Simcock’s nine-year old gelding Sheikhzayedroad is another who enters the race in mixed form, but has been widely backed for success at odds of around 9/2. He certainly represents good value as an each way bet here, although he’ll need to replicate his superb run finishing second at Meydan over a similar distance in March.
Doncaster – Saturday, 15th September
Now we come to William Hill St Leger Day, which is one of the most watched race days in the calendar and one that looks set to be a fitting finale to the Doncaster festival.
There are seven exciting flat races scheduled on this day, including three Class I events and the iconic William Hill St Leger Stakes. This Group I race is one of the five UK classics, during which 12 runners will compete over one mile and six furlongs for a huge first prize of £421,355.
All eyes will be on John Gosden’s precocious three-year old Lah Ti Dar, with this horse having received huge market support despite her relative inexperience. This is largely due to her three stellar performances to date, including a 10-length victory at York in August when she blew away a number of Class I rivals.
Lah Ti Dar is priced at around 7/4 at present, and is widely expected to continue what has an been an explosive start to her career.
If anyone can stop the brilliant Lah Ti Dar in her tracks, it’s Kew Gardens. Trained by the outstanding Aiden O’Brien stable, this three-year old horse arrives in exceptional form, having placed in the top three during each of his last three outings.
This run included two superb wins at Royal Ascot and Longchamp in June and July respectively, while a recent third place finish at York was also more than respectable. He’ll start here at odds of 2/1 and definitely represents good value as an each way bet.
Bath – Sunday, 16th September
The weekend winds down with two flat race meetings at Bath and Ffos Las.
Bath will host a number of particularly intriguing races, with the Class II 188Bet Casino Handicap the obvious standout. Covering a distance of one mile and six furlongs, 18 runners are expected to compete here with a total prize fund just shy of £20,000.
We reckon that Cry Wolf is the early favourite here, with this five-year old horse having been superbly trained by Alexandra Dunn. He looks set to arrive at Bath in outstanding form, having won twice at Chelmsford City during the last three weeks and placed third at Wolverhampton at the beginning of last month.
Elsewhere, Seamus Durack’s four-year old gelding High Wells is expected to be a key contender at Bath, on the back of an excellent second place finish at Fontwell towards the end of August.
He also achieved an impressive win on his last flat outing at Bath, romping home in a field of five at a starting price of 13/8. He certainly has a fondness for this track, and we expect to see him up there at the finish line.