Fillies very seldom take on their male counterparts in the Doncaster St Leger and you could argue that Dunfermline (1977) and Oh So Sharp (1985) are the two outstanding female winners, but I suspect that LAH TI DAR is about to join that small but illustrious group on Saturday afternoon.
I went to visit the John Gosden yard (below) at the beginning of the season and one of the senior members of staff took me aside and told me:
See this girl here Paul, she is as good a filly as you are likely to see and is a shoe in for the Oaks granted some good ground.
Sadly after waltzing home in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket with me sitting snugly on a 12/1 wager worth the value of a new extension to my house, she was forced to miss that Epsom Classic after a slight injury.
I was told that the injury wouldn’t entirely curtail her season so went for the betting jugular of compensation by backing her at 20/1 for the St Leger in mid-summer. As you can imagine, the last week has been nail biting but the gods have smiled down on me. What looked a race dominated by some average three-year-old colts, is now set to be dominated by this gorgeous, athletic filly.
Am I speaking from my pocket? I bloody well hope so. Her devouring stride looks sure to be suited to the long home stretch at Town Moor and unlike several of her rivals she also possesses a very high cruising speed to boot.
I suspect Southern France (looks like an Ascot Gold Cup winner in the making) will find this test much too sharp which makes Kew Gardens and the disappointing Dee Ex Bee the two biggest dangers in a field of 12.
I’m hoping to get the day off to a flyer in the opening Portland Handicap (13.50) with HOLMESWOOD who looked more than a bit unlucky in the run at York last time out.
As if that wasn’t enough there is some depth in quality at Leopardstown on Saturday, but I’m not sure dropping back to 1m is the answer for Laurens in the Group One Matron Stakes (17.25). You don’t need to be an oracle to realise that she will probably play second fiddle in any case to the classy Alpha Centauri.
However, I thought the odds-on favourite had a tougher race than many people realised last time out and one that can chase her home is HAPPILY. It’s a shame there are only seven declared for this valuable mile event and a drop of rain would certainly suit this daughter of Galileo, but make no bones about it she is a top-class filly.
She arrives here relatively fresh with just the four runs as a three-year-old under her belt. The addition of blinkers could well eek out that bit more improvement needed to step up here.
Roaring Lion will be a very warm order for the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at 18.35, but he has been on the go for some time and although he is clearly the form horse in the race, as you can already tell betting at odds-on is clearly not my preserve.
I actually think that Addeybb is a solid contender, but only on soft ground and with little rain forecast the best alternative to the market leader has to be French Derby hero STUDY OF MAN. Judged on his action and breeding he is crying out for a return to a sound surface and if eight go to post I think he is an each-way bet to nothing at the current price on offer.
Connections of MADHMOON have opted for the Group 2 Juvenile Stakes at 16.25 following an impressive career debut success at Leopardstown last month, while the five-year-old TURBINE looks set to run a huge race at double figure odds in the big 7f handicap at 19.10.
Ebor runner-up WEEKENDER is taken to turn over the O’Brien squad in the Irish St Leger (16.50) at the Curragh on Sunday to give John Gosden a Classic double. He is still improving judged on that Knavesmire run and although he requires a career-best effort that may well be forthcoming here at the main expense of Flag of Honour.
Meanwhile, we can round off a fabulous weekend of racing with Jessica Harrington’s CHARCOR in the Northfields Handicap at 6pm at the Curragh.