St Leger Festival Day 1 Tips: Jedi a huge price to Master sales race rivals

I’m not quite sure how a £40k nursery on a terrestrial card only attracts six runners – the most likely reason is soft ground, obviously – but it has and the 6f110yd handicap at 13:50 opens the batting for ITV’s Doncaster St Leger meeting coverage.

If I were the broadcasters I would have tried to change the running order and swapped it with the Silk Series Lady Riders’ Handicap – all the top female talent are present – but we are where we are and there is no doubt that the nursery is a trappy little contest.

I don’t have any beef with Clubbable and Newbury winner The Mums (whose Newbury win was franked by the third winning at Leicester on Tuesday) heading the market, and I don’t think any of the other four fillies are particularly overpriced – Silver Starlight and Poetic Steps are the possible front-runners if you are interested – so we will quickly move on.

May Hill a difficult puzzle to solve

We will stay with previewing the card in chronological order and next up is the May Hill Stakes at 14:25 for which Nyaleti is the obvious favourite.

I say obvious in the respect that she is the clear form, and time, choice on her runaway Princess Margaret Stakes win over 6f at Ascot – and her earlier Chesham second, splitting September and subsequent Solario winner Masar, over 7f at the same course wasn’t too shoddy – but there are doubts about her, even if that is factored into her being available at 3/1+.

Namely, the mile trip, and the soft ground, and especially a combination of both. I think it is worth looking elsewhere for the winner.

Unfortunately, it is not easy to narrow the field down. I think Laurens probably bumped into a very smart juvenile in Polydream at Deauville, having impressed when winning a 16-runner maiden here on her debut.

But dangers are easy to identify. Billesdon Brook is progressing fast and should have no problems with the step up to a mile and Sweet Solera winner Tajaanus looks a similar smart, improving prospect, and I wouldn’t be in a rush to dismiss Sizzling either, given the wealth of the stable’s talent in this area.

In short, the race is a pass from me, as is often the case in 2yo races.

Soft ground course winner can go well for Sir Michael

Dubka was available at 6/1 in a place for the Park Hill at 15:00 on Monday afternoon but unfortunately 5/1 is the best you can get in the marketplace now.

She probably had a hard enough race when in midfield in the Ebor last time – the drying conditions didn’t suit her there – but she has had a 19-day break since and hopefully that would have been enough for her trainer to have freshened her up (her races have generally been well spaced out).

If she comes here in A1 form, she has to go close.

She could well get an easy lead here – main potential pace rival Alyssa was withdrawn due to soft ground at Goodwood last month, so she may not line up – and her Group efforts in this ground, notably her second to Vermeille winner Bateel at Haydock, where subsequent Group 1 winner Ajman Princess was well beaten off in third, make her the one to beat.

The official ratings actually disagree and have her only third joint top-rated in here, some 5lb behind Ebor third Natural Scenery, but I favour the Stoute filly, a course winner in the soft, in these conditions.

On a day when bets are hard to come by on the ITV races, she rates a small-stakes interest at [5.5] or bigger. I’ll certainly be backing her but I won’t be going mad.

Fahey can strike again with big outsider

The sales race at York won by Tangled, from Great Prospector in second and Alba Power in fourth, is likely to hold the key in the 15:35 but the market knows that and I have to look elsewhere.

Neola is an obvious one as I liked the way she won in the soft at Goodwood last time – the 9/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook is very fair – but I have to chuck another few quid at Jedi Master at a massive price as my main bet. Back him at [40.0] win and [8.0] place, or bigger if the opportunity presents itself. He is also 40/1 with the Sportsbook.

I punted him at similarly big odds when he ran a blinder when fourth to the progressive Billesdon Brook in a Goodwood nursery but he let me down badly at Sandown last time.

To be fair, he didn’t get the run of the race there and wasn’t persevered with once beaten, and I suspect he may also be more at home on this softer ground, too.

That is what his runs to date tell you – it was soft at Goodwood and when he won at Wetherby in a good time, his two best efforts – and it was also testing when he was second here over 5f earlier in the season.

He clearly has to improve around a stone to get competitive here but he has course form, the trip will suit, as will the ground, and I think he will run a career-best if Paddy Mathers can get him rolling soon enough from a midfield draw that gives him options.

He takes a while to hit top gear, so he needs grabbing hold of early, but it wouldn’t be the first time Richard Fahey has taken one of these sales races with an outsider.

Hang on, I have just seen that the Betfair Sportsbook are going five places a fifth the odds in this race, and that makes Neola a bet. Back her at 9/1 each-way to small stakes. I thought she was a pure speedster earlier in the season but she saw out the 6f well in soft ground at Goodwood last time.

In the ATR-only races, Chester winner What A Home looks ridiculously well treated in the final race, while Case Key and Seamster would be my two against the field in the opener, but just the three bets today.

Recommended Bets

Back Dubka at [5.5] or bigger in 15:00 at Doncaster
Back Jedi Master at [40.0] win and [8.0] place in 15:35 at Doncaster
Back Neola at 9/1 each way with Betfair Sportsbook (1/5 odds 1,2,3,4,5) in 15:35 at Doncaster

Source:: Betfair UK Horse Racing News