ITV have pulled out all the stops this Saturday with an action-packed eight-race card which includes a red-hot renewal of the St Leger and Ghaiyyath’s bid to win the Irish Champion Stakes.
Charlie Appleby’s stable star takes on five rivals across the Irish Sea, while Pyledriver faces Santiago and Hukum in the battle to win the final classic of the season on Town Moor.
In amongst all of that we also have the fast and furious Park Stakes, a tasty-looking renewal of the Matron Stakes and the ultra-competitive Portland Handicap. It’s all set up for a fantastic afternoon on the box, and it’s one we’ve previewed in our ITV Racing Tips.
ST LEGER, 15:35 DONCASTER, 1M 6½F
All the talk has been about Pyledriver and Santiago, but could Hukum spring a minor shock in the St Leger? We think it’s a distinct possibility following his wins at Royal Ascot and in the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury last month, where he looked every bit the Group 1 performer when going away at the line.
He shaped like a proper stayer that afternoon and he’ll get a fantastic tow into the race at Doncaster after being drawn in stall one. Owen Burrows’ charge is beautifully bred by Sea The Stars, which suggests the trip should be no problem, and if he can show the same prowess in the final furlong as he did at Newbury, he could be difficult to beat.
The claims for Santiago are obvious following his victories in the Queen’s Vase and the Irish Derby, but the form of those races doesn’t stack up particularly well, which makes us wonder whether he’s too short in the market. Frankie Dettori and Aidan O’Brien have won six St Legers apiece, so there’s no doubting the pedigree involved with the horse. He’ll stay the trip; the question is whether he’s good enough to beat the others in the race.
Success for Pyledriver would complete a fairytale story for William Muir, and although he arguably has the best form on offer following wins in the King Edward VII Stakes and the Great Voltigeur, there’s no guarantee he’ll stay. That has to be taken on trust, but if he does last out on the run to the line, he could prove tough to get past with the pace and power he’s shown previously.
Progressive-type Galileo Chrome demands plenty of respect for Joseph O’Brien after landing a hat-trick, while Berkshire Rocco and Subjectivist both make for interesting each-way contenders.
IRISH CHAMPION STAKES, 16:10 Leopardstown, 2M 2F
Providing Ghaiyyath turns up with four working legs and a lovely bushy tail, it’s difficult to see him getting beat at Leopardstown. Charlie Appleby’s monster colt has dominated the division this season with victories in the Coral-Eclipse, the Coronation Cup and the Juddmonte International last time out.
He holds both Magical and Japan on that form, and while the former is an honest type who always gives her all in these Group 1 contest, she’s no match for Ghaiyyath when it comes to pace and power. The Dubawi colt will take control from the start, as has become his trademark, and from there he should prove nigh-on impossible to reel in.
MATRON STAKES, 15;10 LEOPARDSTOWN, 1M
Like Ghaiyyath, Fancy Blue’s record this season speaks for itself. Donnacha O’Brien’s inmate was touched off by Peaceful in the Irish 1,000 Guineas but subsequently reversed that form over 1m 2½f in the Group 1 Prix de Diane before adding a second Group 1 in the Nassau at Glorious Goodwood.
She’s stepping back to 1m here which is the only cause for concern as she renews rivalries with Peaceful, who’ll be fresh as a daisy after eight weeks off the track. Aidan O’Brien’s hopeful won when the pair last went head-to-head over a mile, but jockey Ryan Moore has chosen to take the ride of the younger O’Brien’s horse, which should give anyone backing Fancy Blue further confidence.
PORTLAND HANDICAP, 14:25 DONCASTER, 5½F
There are plenty of chances throughout the field in an ultra-competitive renewal of the Portland Handicap, with the consistent Soldier’s Minute one who’s taken to go close for Keith Dalgleish. The yard is in form and the five-year-old has twice gone close at York this season; up only a 1lb he should be on the premises once again here.
He’ll face competition from Amomentofmadness, who won this in 2018 and was only beaten by subsequent July Cup winner Oxted in the same race 12 months ago. Charlie Hills’ sprinter shaped well in the Qatar Handicap at Goodwood last time out and should be capable of another good account.
Elsewhere, Wentworth Falls has finished third and fifth in the Portland in the last two seasons and can hit the frame despite the best efforts of the handicapper, while Ginger Jam is one who’s available at an interesting price. Nigel Tinkler’s charge won well at Beverley last time and the yard are in good nick after firing in a 40/1 winner of the Flying Childers on Friday. Faye McManoman takes off 5lb, and the pair could be worth a squeak at long odds.
SATURDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER, ITV RACING SCHEDULE
13:50 Doncaster – Champagne Stakes (Group 2)
14:05 Chester – #ChesterRaces Supports The Injured Jockeys Fund Stand Cup Stakes (Listed)
14:25 Doncaster – Portland Handicap
14:40 Chester – Racing Together How Sport Helps Others Handicap
15:00 Doncaster – Park Stakes (Group 2)
15:10 Leopardstown – Matron Stakes (Group 1)
15:35 Doncaster – St Leger (Group 1)
16:10 Leopardstown – Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1)
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication