Weights & Measures: Doncaster
Ben Linfoot rounds up the major official ratings amendments following Doncaster, including Harbour Law, St Michel & more.
Sheikhzayedroad beats a couple of Cesarewitch hotpots at Doncaster
Law's Leger: Everything but the rating
Harbour Law >>>> Up 12lb to 114
Ventura Storm >>>> Up 2lb to 113
Housesofparliament >>>> Remains on 113
It was, again, a dramatic Ladbrokes St Leger.
Idaho became the fifth beaten favourite representing Ballydoyle in this race in the last decade when he stumbled and unseated Seamie Heffernan, leaving the door wide open for a big turn up.
It was, again, a thrilling finish to the world's oldest Classic.
First it looked as though Housesofparliament would win, then Ventura Storm, but George Baker squeezed more out of Harbour Law to deny the pair of them in the run for the line.
It was, again, a great story that unravelled on Town Moor.
A good news one too, as Laura Mongan became the first woman to train a St Leger winner, while Harbour Law was the first horse trained in Epsom to win a Classic since Right Tack in 1969.
It wasn't, though, a classic Classic in terms of quality.
Talk about ruining the party. The Mongan clan won't care, but Harbour Law's post-race rating of 114 is the worst in at least the last 20 renewals of the race, with Lucarno's 2007 win (115) and Simple Verse's victory last year (also 115) the next worst, for want of a better phrase.
Cup duo chucked in for the Ces
St Michel >>>> Up 13lb to 112
Sweet Selection >>>> Up 17lb to 104
Quick Jack >>>> Up 7lb to 112
Pyromaniac >>>> Up 5lb to 92
I wonder where Sir Mark Prescott's St Michel would've finished in the Leger?
His improvement has come over two miles and more, granted, but his stamina would've been an asset and he's rated just 2lb off Harbour Law following his third place finish in the 250th Doncaster Cup.
Held up by Luke Morris, he made his move just before the two-furlong marker but couldn't quite get to the well-positioned pair that fought out the finish, Sheikhzayedroad and Quest For More.
Eased close home when his winning chance had gone, the son of Sea The Stars is bumped up from a 99-rated handicapper to a 112 Group-class stayer – and he could race in the Cesarewitch off a mark of 97.
Rated 93 when the Ces weights came out, he picked up a 4lb penalty for his Goodwood win so will be 15lb well-in for the second leg of the autumn double.
He is number 83 on the list at the moment, so a lot will have to come out before October 8 (field size of 34), but history says he'll make the cut.
It's a strange thing to say, but no wonder he's the 7/1 favourite for a 34-runner handicap three-and-a-half weeks before the race.
He's very much in the same mould of the last three-year-old winner of the Ces, Darley Sun, David Simcock's breakthrough horse from seven years ago.
He finished second in the Doncaster Cup, was 12lb well-in for the Cesarewitch and was sent off the 9/2 favourite. He won the race by five lengths doing cartwheels.
St Michel is not, however, the only one that is chucked in.
Step forward Hughie Morrison's Sweet Selection, who finished two places and five-and-a-half lengths behind St Michel on Town Moor.
She ran a cracker too, and was impeded by St Michel as he made his forward move, a 17lb hike to 104 coming her way following reassessment.
That means she's 17lb well-in in the Cesarewitch and as she gave St Michel 11lb at Doncaster she'll have a 9lb pull in the big handicap. She's more than twice his price at 16/1.
Meanwhile, over in Ireland, Tony Martin was at it again with a one-two in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Petingo Handicap on the Irish Champion Stakes card at Leopardstown.
Quick Jack swooped late to deny Pyromaniac and the pair of them could head to Newmarket ahead of the handicapper.
The former is up 7lb to 112, so he'll be 3lb well-in under a 4lb penalty, while Pyromaniac could be 5lb to the good after going up that weight to a mark of 92.
Both are a similar price in the ante-post Ces lists, at around the 14/1 and 16/1 mark, to stablemate Heartbreak City, who surely showed his hand when breezing clear in the Ebor (will have to carry top weight off his new mark of 113).
Perhaps, this year, it will be a case of choosing between the ones that are thrown in when it comes to trying to solve the Cesarewitch puzzle.
Spence sprinters are Priceless
Priceless >>>> Up 3lb to 105
Double Up >>>> Remains on 105
It's been a cracking year for owner Alan Spence's horses with Profitable flying the flag in his red, white and blue silks, but he's not the only crackerjack speedster amongst his string.
Two sprinters ran in his colours at Doncaster last week and both, arguably, ran career-best races.
First up was Priceless who is, like Profitable, trained by Clive Cox and who is, like Profitable, thriving now she's racing over five furlongs.
This was her first go at the minimum trip but after racing a bit free over six she clearly relished it, running on well to deny the game Thesme.
She's nudged up 3lb to a mark of 105 and perhaps she can prove herself even better than a Listed sprinter now she's shown her effectiveness over five furlongs.
In contrast to Priceless, the same owner's Double Up has done most of his racing over five furlongs over the last year or so.
Yet the way he ran on in the Ladbrokes Portland, off a mark of 105, which he stays on, suggests a step back up to six could suit him in the weeks and months ahead.
He did best of the hold-up horses over the five furlongs and 140 yards at Doncaster and he, like Priceless, looks to be in the best form of his life.
While we're on the Portland, impressive winner Captain Colby went up 6lb to 101 for what was a relatively authoritative win.
That might not stop him, so taking was this success, and he's another one that will appreciate the slight extra yardage in a six-furlong contest.
Newmarket Wars Episode I: Varian – The Spangled Menace
Spangled >>>> Up 6lb to 107
Central Square >>>> Up 8lb to 104
Mount Logan >>>> Up 2lb to 109
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Roger Varian wasn't sending out many runners. Just 21 in August, as opposed to 68 for the same month last year, showed that the infections and mystery viruses that have blighted many a Newmarket trainer this season had also affected Kremlin House.
But ever since Postponed proved he was in rude health when landing the Juddmonte International at York, Varian can't stop sending out winners.
Three more went in at Doncaster last week, with Spangled emerging from the shadows to land the Group Three Sceptre Stakes at 14/1.
She looked a filly of some potential as a three-year-old, but had largely disappointed since being beaten at York at last year's Ebor meeting.
A confidence-boosting win in a handicap at Newmarket in July looks to have done her the world of good, though, and she bounced out of that race to knuckle down and beat Mise En Rose by a neck.
Varian mentioned how big she was afterwards and patience has clearly been the key with her. Up to 107 after this, she could be tried at an even higher level now winning black type is in the bag.
Talking of black type, that will likely be the mission for stablemate Central Square now after his impressive success from Poet's Word in the crownhotel-bawtry.com Handicap.
The son of Azamour responded well to the first-time blinkers dropping back to 10 furlongs and he's up 8lb to 104 after this, possibly forcing him away from handicaps for the time being.
Ditto Mount Logan, who won a Conditions Stakes by six lengths. He was dropping down the weights a touch following a few defeats and might've been a tempter for a big handicap pot if he'd gone down a couple more pounds to 105.
Back up to 109 after this, he's more likely to step back up in class and he could do just that in the Group Three Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
Newmarket Wars Episode II: Simcock – Attack of the 'Road
Sheikhzayedroad >>>> Up 2lb to 115
Breton Rock >>>> Up 1lb to 113
Can't Change It >>>> Up 3lb to 97
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… David Simcock wasn't having many winners. Well, just four victories from 50 runners in July was a poor strike-rate by his standards. Maybe it's something about July – he had just one winner from 42 runners in the same month last year.
Anyway, Simcock's on fire now and, like his neighbour Roger Varian, he also had a Town Moor treble to celebrate.
Sheikhzayedroad's success was the most high-profile, his nose win in the Doncaster Cup earning him a 2lb nudge up the ratings to a career-high 115.
This was just his second win in his last 14 starts, but he's a consistent horse and this effort suggests he's better than ever at the age of seven.
Stablemate Breton Rock is a year younger, but he looks at least as good as ever as well.
Up 1lb to 113 following his narrow success in the Group Two Saint Gobain Weber Park Stakes, he might've earned a career-high rating had the forecast rain actually fallen.
His preference for softer ground is probably overstated and he showed on Saturday it's not an absolute prerequisite with him, but there's no doubting he's very good in the mud and he handles it better than most.
With that in mind the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket in October, a race he has been placed in the last two years, looks a natural target once again given he excels over seven furlongs.
Can't Change It could be one to follow this autumn too. He did well to overhaul Banksea on just his second go at a mile and he goes well with cut in the ground as well.
He's up just 3lb to a mark of 97.
Newmarket Wars Episode III: Godolphin – The Force Awakens?
Gold Trail >>>> Up 5lb to 107
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Godolphin's Newmarket trainers were struggling a bit.
Okay, they still are to an extent, but when Gold Trail hacked up by five lengths at Doncaster it got me thinking – could Godolphin have a raft of well-handicapped horses on their hands heading into the last few months of the season?
It's been a tough time for Charlie Appleby and especially Saeed bin Suroor over the last few months, but the green shoots of recovery have been sprouting in recent weeks, including Gold Trail's romp.
He kicked on from his good reappearance in the John Smith's Cup at York to win as he liked stepped back up to a mile-and-a-half, and he could turn out quickly at Newbury on Friday.
Here are five more Godolphin horses it could pay to follow between now and the end of the campaign:
Penglai Pavilion (C Appleby) – If the stable was under a cloud in July, Penglai Pavilion ran okay when fifth in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock. Ridiculously well-handicapped on his old form (was fifth in the 2013 Arc) off a mark of 93, he's one to keep an eye on in staying contests on softer ground.
Entries: Betfred Cesarewitch Trial Stakes, Newmarket, September 17
Second Wave (C Appleby) – Second Wave was another one to run well in June and July without winning, and even though his handicap mark crept up on the back of defeats at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood he's interesting in the Cambridgeshire. A breakneck gallop over nine furlongs looks ideal, as he's been a tad keen over 10.
Entries: Betfred Cambridgeshire, Newmarket, September 24
Huge Future (S bin Suroor) – Judging by his entries Huge Future is going to be out soon and he's one that's been kept away from the track during July and August. He looked highly progressive when winning a Newbury handicap on soft ground in June, though, and a 10lb higher mark may not be enough to stop him following up.
Entries: Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Handicap, Newbury, September 16, CMSeven.com Handicap, Newmarket, September 17, Kilkerran Cup, Ayr, September 17.
Strong Challenge (S bin Suroor) – I just can't forget the impression Strong Challenge made as a juvenile and though he let himself down in some hot Newmarket handicap sprints in July he could be worth another chance. He's dropped 7lb to 85 on the back of those two runs and is dangerously well-handicapped if he can rediscover his mojo.
Next Stage (S bin Suroor) – Next Stage is another without any entries, but he's worth keeping an eye out for in the declarations in the coming weeks. Badly hampered when second to subsequent Britannia winner Defrocked at Doncaster in early June, he ran a shocker at Salisbury later that month without the hood on soft ground. He'd be given another chance, if and when he reappears…
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