What a cracker of a day in prospect for armchair punters on Saturday with all the TV action from Doncaster and Leopardstown. But the same as with Haydock last week – watch the skies.
I was speaking to the clerk of the course at Donny on Friday and they are expecting between 10-18mm of rain overnight and that will turn the ground soft.
That has to be factored in to all bets and Thunder Snow is the one horse who has top-class form on a slow surface when sixth to Caravaggio in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. The rest of his runs are solid and he gets the nod over Rivet in the 7f Group 2 Champagne Stakes.
The 22-runner 5f Portland Handicap is a real headache but Humidor has form on soft and Hoofalong are my two against the rest of the field.
Toormore finished fourth on soft ground at the Royal meeting and could be good enough to win the Group 2 Weber Park Stakes over 7f. Richard Hannon’s runner is a former Group 1 winner and could be a bit of value in this line up.
Doncaster’s feature race is the St Leger and the final British Classic of the season is dominated by Aidan O’Brien who saddles three runners.
I love ante-post fav Idaho as not only has he got the strongest form – he is also a proven soft-ground performer.
Seamie Heffernan won on him at York and keeps the ride and the Ballydoyle runner should add to the stable’s already impressive Classic haul this season. Richard Hannon’s improving Ventura Storm could be a value play to chase him home.
Irish Champions Stakes
The Group 3 Enterprise Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday looked like it was tailor made for US Army Ranger but if the ground comes up soft Dermot Weld’s Zhukova will be no pushover.
There’s an international flavour to the Group 1 Matron Stakes and Qemah can confirm her Royal Ascot form where Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Jet Setting should be better for her break, handles soft ground and can chase home the favourite.
Last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile winner Hit It A Bomb runs in the Group 2 Boomerang Stakesand I expect him to be a lot sharper after finishing third at this track on his seasonal reappearance last month. He looked like he needed the run and can account for impressive Irish 2000 Guineas winner Awtad.
The Irish Champion Stakes would grace any racecourse as dual Classic winning filly Minding takes on the colts over 1m 2f.
Minding has lots of tactical speed and that’s a huge asset for top jock Ryan Moore as she can pounce when the gaps appear. Hawkbill will be better suit to cut in the ground and will run better here than he did last time at York.
But if the ground is soft it will help swing things in Dermot Weld’s dual Derby winner Harzand’s favour. I’m a huge fan of his but with 13 runners declared, it will not make things easy for Pat Smullen. Still, this horse will have a strong pace to help bring his stamina into play and Smullen is a no-nonsense jockey who will keep it simple. He wins!