Doncaster Gears Up for Classic Finale


The Lir Jet will be in action at Doncaster on Friday | Scoop Dyga

With Saturday's G1 Pertemps St Leger attracting a dozen runners and Frankie Dettori booked for Ballydoyle's G1 Irish Derby hero Santiago (Ire) (Authorized {Ire}), Doncaster's action has its customary focus but before that is a card on Friday that features races at the extremes. In the G2 Bombardier Flying Childers S., 2-year-olds will be flying over five furlongs before the older stayers get their chance to shine in the G2 bet365 Doncaster Cup over almost two and a quarter miles. Such is the rich diversity of the meeting and although Wednesday's limited crowd has instantly again become a thing of the past due to changing COVID regulations there is much to relish as the fixture passes the halfway stage. The Doncaster Cup is the Town Moor venue's oldest surviving race and it plays host to last year's Jockey Club Derby Invitational winner Spanish Mission (Noble Mission {GB}) who enjoyed the perfect confidence boost when winning the Aug. 20 Listed Chester S. over an extended 14 furlongs last time.

Transferred to Andrew Balding from David Simcock prior to his win at Chester, Spanish Mission is so far executing connections' masterplan. “What we wanted to do was to give him a freshener and give him his best chance to win and feel good and it worked,” commented Barry Irwin, founder and chief executive of Team Valor. “He won off David Simcock's training and he was pointing him at this race, so he deserves the credit for that even though he didn't have the horse that day. Since then the horse has done well, according to Andrew. He phoned me on Saturday after he had worked the horse and he was very enthusiastic and very happy. Andrew and I had a long conversation and his idea was if the horse stays two and a quarter or two and a half miles, he could be an ideal horse for the Ascot Gold Cup next year. He does have a turn of foot, which most stayers don't. He goes to the Doncaster Cup in good form. If he can do it, next year we know what to do. If not, we'll go back to the drawing board. The long-term goal with this horse is the Melbourne Cup–not this year, but next year when he's five, and the year after when he's six and more mature. He was a light-bodied horse last year. This year he's got better, and I think next year he'll reach his maturity and we'll find out if can do it.”

Sir Mark Prescott's horses always carry a certain gravitas and one of his finest lines up in opposition in Revolver (Ire) (Slade Power {Ire}), a rapidly-progressing 3-year-old who has made a mockery of his opening handicap mark of 57 since enjoying the first of six handicap wins at Pontefract June 15. “He's a very tall, leggy, narrow horse, but athletic and keeps winning,” the master of Heath House said. “He's won over two miles and one at Pontefract, so we know he stays, and the big, galloping track at Doncaster suits him. It's a question of whether he's good enough. Other horses in there would have a bit more class and have done it time and time again. He's by a sprinter and when we started him we were thinking he would be a seven-furlong or mile horse, but he didn't work particularly well. As he went up in distance he stayed and stayed, which you wouldn't have expected. He works well now that he's with the stayers. As long as you get it right in the end, as we have with him, then it's okay, but we don't always.”

In the Flying Childers, Cieren Fallon gets the chance to shine in his new role as deputy to the suspended Oisin Murphy for Qatar Racing on The Lir Jet (Ire) (Prince of Lir {Ire}). The June 19 G2 Norfolk S. winner is back in trip after finishing second in the G2 Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly July 19 and the G1 Phoenix S. at The Curragh Aug. 9 and trainer Michael Bell is expecting a bold show. “The horse worked nicely last week and is in good form,” he said. “We're keen to let him take his chance. I'm just hoping the ground doesn't dry out too much. I'm a big fan of Cieren's. He rode the Qatar Racing winner for us at Catterick earlier in the week and has ridden plenty for us this year. I couldn't say for sure, but I would guess he's ridden half a dozen winners for us. His father rode a lot for us back in the day, and the one that sticks out is Motivator in the Racing Post Trophy. He would have kept the ride as a 3-year-old, but he took the Ballydoyle job that year.”

Cheveley Park Stud's Sacred (GB) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) is also back to the trip over which she ran with credit at Royal Ascot when second in the June 20 G2 Queen Mary S. In that same position in the six-furlong G2 Lowther S. at York Aug. 20, the homebred holds strong claims and trainer William Haggas is hopeful that the faster conditions will suit. “Sacred is in good order, and the more the ground dries out the better for her,” he commented. “She's very well and I think coming back from six to five furlongs will suit.”

Adding spice from Ireland are Chantal Regalado-Gonzalez's July 29 G3 Molecomb S. winner Steel Bull (Ire) (Clodovil {Ire}) and SBA Racing's June 27 Listed First Flier S. and Aug. 14 Listed Curragh S. scorer Frenetic (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), while Middleham Park Racing's Robert Papin winner Ventura Tormenta (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) is another high-profile juvenile adding ballast.

At Baden-Baden, the G2 Kronimus Oettingen Rennen has attracted Godolphin's July 12 G3 Hamburger Stutenmeile winner and Aug. 2 G1 Prix Rothschild runner-up Half Light (Ire) (Shamardal), who meets Darius Racing's triple group-winning G2 Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen (German 2000 Guineas) runner-up Rubaiyat (Fr) (Areion {Ger}).

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