Steven Dowler is on duty all week at the St Leger Festival at Doncaster. He’s targeting the Boosted £5,000 Place 6 on day four of the action. Check out his St Leger Festival betting tips and join his Syndicate.
St Leger Festival betting tips – Day four
13.15 – Handicap – 1m
This looks like a wide-open event. Ralph Beckett’s DIOCLES OF ROME was a course winner last year, where he beat the now 90-rated Tommy Taylor. He wasn’t seen to best effect for the remainder of the season, but perhaps that was down to the softer ground at Royal Ascot and the stiff tasks he was set with on the all-weather. His return to action saw him bounce back to form with a creditable fifth place of 11 runners over seven-furlongs here last month and with the handicapper leaving him alone on the same mark for today’s race, he should be able to take another step forward and be competitive.
At the bottom of the weights, LA TRINIDAD is improving rapidly having upped his game to finish third at York the last twice, including at a similar level to today’s race last time out. He’s up 5lb here and will obviously need more, but he’s going the right way and simply can’t be dismissed receiving weight from all rivals.
Ed Walker’s MATTHEW FLINDERS was impressive here back in June following an eye-catching debut third. He’s improved further since, beaten narrowly under a big-weight on handicap debut on his latest start at Sandown. He retains plenty of potential in this sphere, and the booking of Tom Marquand looks interesting, which further aids his chances.
Selections: DIOCLES OF ROME, LA TRINIDAD, MATTHEW FLINDERS
13.50 – Champagne Stakes – 7f
An interesting renewal of this Group Two which could go the way of the Owen Burrows-trained ALBASHEER. He looked a top-class prospect in the making when powering clear from a subsequent winner over C&D 49 days ago. He achieved some high figures that day and with loads more to come, he has to be high on anybody’s shortlist.
I’m happy to see DEVIOUS COMPANY’s price very much inflated, who seems to have been overlooked in the market according to most firms based on the fact he didn’t look comfortable when never in contention over six-furlongs at Naas when last seen. With that being said, he should be given plenty of recognition for his second behind Happy Romance at York the time before that, considering he was again, flat out from an early stage before coming home strongly to chase home the subsequent Group winner. One can assume that the return to this trip, which is arguably his adequate distance will suit him better, and if you ignore his latest performance, I strongly suspect he’d have been challenging favouritism.
Selections: ALBASHEER, DEVIOUS COMPANY
14.25 – Portland Handicap – 5f
Further down the card, we move onto the ultra-competitive Portland handicap.
I’m lured to the top-end of the weights, starting with DANZENO, who was desperately unlucky to not win at Haydock last time, eventually taking third. He endured all kinds of problems in running, so the fact that he came home so strongly suggested a return to winning ways might be imminent. That run might be a blessing in disguise given the handicapper has dropped him 1lb and he continues to hold his form well despite his advancing years, so he should make a bold bid under his welter burden weight.
KONCHEK doesn’t have an appealing career strike-rate with only two wins under his belt, but he did, however, keep much stronger company when two-to-three and he ended his long losing run when getting off the mark at Salisbury last time out, beating some classy sprinters in the process. That success might have done his confidence the world of good following a string of respectable efforts in defeat prior to that win and being only 5lb higher here, he shouldn’t be too far away at all.
Of the rest, MOUNTAIN PEAK has an excellent each-way chance. He’s been in very good form this year, including when getting the better of the useful Makanah at Haydock last time. He has a career-high mark to contend with here, but he has ideal conditions, followed by a decent draw in stall 19 (high drawn numbers tend to have a decent record in the race) and he’s clearly thriving at the moment.
Surprisingly, ARECIBO has yet to win for David O’Meara, but he’s continued to knock on the door in similar big handicap races for most of his career. He was fourth in this race twelve months ago off a mark of 100 and is 6lb lower this time around. The ground will be more suitable for him compared to last time, and it’s only a matter of time before everything falls into place for this quirky but consistent and talented five-year-old in this sort of race.
Selections: DANZENO, KONCHEK, ARECIBO, MOUNTAIN PEAK
15.00 – Park Stakes – 7f
Aidan O’Brien looks to have found the top-rated WICHITA a good chance to resume winning ways. He was runner-up in the 2000 Guineas when splitting Kameko and Pinatubo earlier in the year, and that form has been extremely well advertised since. He was then a close-up third in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot behind Palace Pier and Pinatubo, and once again, that form has worked out well with the first and second winning Group One prizes subsequently. Understandably, things haven’t worked out for him since, given everything went wrong for him at Goodwood before the trip and ground went against him at Deauville when last seen. Even so, this smart three-year-old does bring the best form to the table and if rediscovering his earlier season form, there’s a chance that he could just prove too good for this field with Frankie Dettori taking to the saddle once more.
His main danger looks to be the veteran but high-class LIMATO, who is enjoying a productive season having comfortably dispatched a useful field in a Group Three when last seen on his reappearance. The form of that race has a lot of substance to it given the runner-up Happy Power subsequently won at the same level next time out. Henry Candy’s eight-year-old is clearly still capable of smart form and is the only runner, in my opinion, capable of putting up the most resistance to Wichita over this trip on this ground.
Selections: WICHITA, LIMATO
15.35 – St Leger Stakes – 1m6f
All eyes turn to the feature race of the day being the St Leger, which looks an interesting renewal of the final classic of the season. The highly-promising HUKUM has an obvious chance, who looked a Group One winner in waiting when slicing up a good field at Newbury when last seen, which followed on from his impressive Royal Ascot success. He brings an ideal profile to the race, and providing he handles the step up in trip on better ground, Owen Burrow’s three-year-old must be a leading contender for top honours.
Aidan O’Brien is no stranger to success in this race having won it a monumental six times previously. His main hope this year is clearly the Irish Derby winner SANTIAGO, who will have the presence of Frankie Dettori on his back. He was impressive when destroying Berkshire Rocco at Royal Ascot over this trip before he followed up in the Irish Derby just eight days later. Albeit too keen in the Goodwood Cup since, he did really well to finish as close as he did considering the front two are top-class experienced stayers. He does, however, have 5lb to find on ratings with market rival Pyledriver, but he’s the ONLY Group One winner in the line-up and that gives him a distinct advantage over this field.
Selections: SANTIAGO, HUKUM
16.05 – Nursery – 1m
LONE EAGLE had much more up his sleeve than the winning margin suggested at Goodwood a couple of weeks ago. He’s clearly a well-touted prospect having cost a huge sum of 500,000 gns as a yearling. He’s by Galileo, related to some high-class racehorses and he should have too many gears for today’s opposition.
I wouldn’t rule out LEGEND OF DUBAI representing the Roger Varian camp. He’s also got an excellent pedigree and did little wrong when a close-up second behind River Alwen at Haydock last time. He’s expected to take a significant step forward from that outing, and should be bang on the premises at the business end of the race.
Selections: LONE EAGLE, LEGEND OF DUBAI
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