If Hurricane Lane runs to within half a stone of his Grand Prix de Paris-winning form in the Cazoo St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday, he should win the season’s final Classic with something to spare.
While Charlie Appleby’s Irish Derby winner is a worthy favourite, whether he is a worthy odds-on favourite is more debatable. The extra two and a half furlongs on Saturday is an unknown, while on their Derby form at Epsom, Hurricane Lane has something to find with Mojo Star.
The obvious ploy is to find an each-way alternative and Interpretation (3.35) could easily be good enough to make the frame at least. He looks like a Ballydoyle second-string but plenty of those have won Classics in the past, and he has improved with every start this season, winning all three while only doing just enough.
The time of his latest win over today’s trip was impressive and at around 14-1, he looks an excellent each-way bet to give Hollie Doyle a memorable first outing in the Leger.
Doncaster 1.45 Hurricane Ivor and Jawwaal were third and fourth respectively behind Copper Knight at York three weeks ago and run off the same marks here. It is 11 years since the Portland Handicap winner came from a single-figure stall, however, and Hurricane Lane is in five, so Jawwaal (in 21) is narrowly preferred as he goes in search of a fourth success on Town Moor.
Chester 2.00 The six-year-old Alounak has 26 races under his belt but still came up with a career-best to finish third in the Ebor off 108. A repeat of that here would probably be enough.
Doncaster 2.20 The prospect of Reach For The Moon lining up as a contender for the Platinum Jubilee Derby next June is no more than a daydream at present, but it will be less of a longshot if the most exciting juvenile colt to carry the Royal colours can maintain his recent progress and see off three rivals here.
Chester 2.35 A change from the usual frontrunning tactics did not suit Hochfeld at Haydock last weekend, but Mark Johnston’s gelding has won twice in five starts at Chester and made the frame – including in the Chester Cup in May – in the other three.
Leopardstown 2.45 St Mark’s Basilica, the world’s top-rated horse at present, was a ready winner of a four-runner Eclipse last time, while Poetic Flare, the season’s best three-year-old miler, is bred to get this trip. At the prices, though, and with a 3lb allowance, Tarnawa could be the one to back. Dermot Weld’s mare had enough speed to win a 10-furlong Group One last season and looked better than ever on her return to action in August.
Doncaster 3.00 Danyah put up a career-best to win the International Handicap at Ascot in July and can take the step up to a weakish Group Two in his stride.
Stradivarius extended his winning streak in Yorkshire to seven races with a brisk dismissal of inferior rivals in the Group Two Doncaster Cup.
Had the heavy rain which started moments after the race arrived earlier, Trueshan, the only other Group One winner in the original field, might have taken his chance and given the favourite a race. In his absence, Stradivarius cruised to victory by two and a half lengths, leaving no one in any doubt as he did so that they had seen one of the all-time greats in the staying division.
Stradivarius finished less than a length behind the winner in third place in the 2017 St Leger and that is still his only defeat after nine starts in Yorkshire, where he launched his three-year-old season with victory in a Beverley handicap off a mark of 78.
Friday’s race was also his 14th Group-race win with Frankie Dettori holding the reins, which is one more than Dettori picked up aboard the brilliant Enable during her own exceptional career. “He’s a phenomenon,” John Gosden, Stradivarius’s trainer, said. “I’m sorry the other horse [Trueshan] didn’t run but maybe we’ll meet one day.”
“He’s had a great season and won three out of four,” Gosden added. “Frankie’s ride in the Gold Cup wasn’t his greatest [but] the winner [Subjectivist] was mighty impressive and the sad thing for me in the year is that we couldn’t run at Goodwood [due to heavy ground].”
Stradivarius’s late withdrawal from the Goodwood Cup left Trueshan to produce a dominant display on ground that plays to his strengths, as he also showed on Champions Day at Ascot last year when Stradivarius finished well down the field.
That was the only meeting between the two horses to date, and there is such a contrast in their going requirements that it could stay that way.