The third day of Doncaster St Leger meeting sees Her Majesty the Queen’s Gold Cup winning mare Estimate South Yorkshire bound for the feature G2 Doncaster Cup over two and a quarter miles. Sir Michael Stoute’s 5-y-o ran an excellent second on her seasonal reappearance at Royal Ascot but has had two hard races since at Goodwood and York, the latter an excellent second chasing home Dermot Weld’s Pal Mimosa in the Yorkshire Cup.
With three hard runs in the space of two months she is opposed with Ed Dunlop’s Times Up (2.40) successful in the race in 2012 and 2013 and seeking a memorable hat-trick under William Buick. The 8-y-o just was back to his brilliant best when beating the re-opposing Repeater and Biographer in the corresponding race last year and arrives with the Dunlop stable in excellent form. The selection returned from an absence of three months when behind Estimate and Pale Mimosa at York however with this race a likely seasonal target, Times Up should be spot on and gets the nod to land a third successive Yorkshire Cup.
Favourites have won five of the last seven renewals of the May Hill Stakes with the likes of White Moonstone, Certify and Ihtimal all winning after landing the Solera Stakes at Newmarket and Mark Johnston’s Muraaqaba (3.15) can do likewise. Sheikh Hamdan’s filly is related to plenty of winners and after winning the 7f contest at HQ last month arrives in good form and bred should relish the step up to a mile. She is 25/1 with BetVictor for next year’s 1000 Guineas at Newmarket but expect her to be a lot shorter should she win in good style under Paul Hanagan.
Mind of Madness edged out Moonraker (1.40) by a nostril last month at York however the latter can reverse the form with Ryan Moore booked for Mick Channon’s speedy son of Starspangledbanner. He was nabbed on the line and still looked to be learning but is still learning and has some of the best 2-y-o form, making an excellent start when winning a warm maiden at Ascot in the spring.
Great Hall (2.10) was a lively outsider in last year’s St Leger, travelling well before folding tamely in the closing stages when trained by Brian Meehan and returns to Town Moore for the Mallard Handicap over the extended mile and three quarters.
The selection ran an excellent third on seasonal reappearance in a listed handicap at York and although finishing last in the Ebor, was eased down by jockey Phillip Makin when evidently beaten. Now gelded and trained by John Quinn, the gelding looks well-handicapped to run a big race with Makin once again doing the steering.
A lot of punters will be latching onto the fact Richard Hughes head to Sandown rather than Doncaster with the Champion Jockey having three excellent rides before heading to Salisbury for a further five. Hughes teams with boss Richard Hannon to ride two very promising juveniles in Frognal Bear (1.50) in the opening maiden over five furlongs and Deluxe (2.20) over a mile and both should be in the frame after finishing second last time out at Kempton and Sandown respectively.
As mentioned, there’ twilight action at Salisbury with Brian Meehan’s Sulaalaat (5.45) the stand-out runner in the feature conditions race over seven furlongs. The New Approach filly was far from disgraced when finishing fifth in the Lowther Stakes last month at York, sets a good standard and will be a tough nut to crack.
Sheikh Hamdan’s second jockey Dane O’Neill rides and can double-up for connections with Charlie Hills’ Almuhalab (7.15) in the ten furlong maiden. The Dansili colt was second on his return earlier in the summer at July when failing to see out a mile and a half and can make it third time lucky dropping back in trip.