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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Value Pointers and Punts – St Leger Festival Days One + Two

GG’s latest recruit Matthew Sutcliffe guides us through his eyecatchers from last weeks racing, before giving us his tips for the first two days of Doncasters St Leger Festival.

His selections include an E/W pick in the May Hill Stakes on day one, plus one he’s keen on in the Flying Childers Stakes on the Friday card.

Published: 4.55pm 12th September (Odds correct at time of publication)

Updated: 2.49pm 13th September (Rhythmic Intent selection added)

Updated: 3.50pm 14th September (Wonderwall + Boardroom selections added)

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Ascot 14:35 – MOBASHR (5/14) Mshawish x Refreshing (Invincible Spirit) – Trainer: Michael Appleby.

Mobashr has been kept somewhat busy since April, making his 11th start this season when a staying on 5th at Ascot last Saturday. It certainly paid to be on the front end with the four in front of him described as “Made all, racing in second, prominent and midfield”. Mobashr was held up in rear and came down the far side rail, whereas it was favourable to finish up the centre. He kept on well enough there to suggest his current mark isn’t beyond him, and he’ll be of interest when dropping back down in class.

Haydock 15:00 – ENEMY (3/14) – Muhaarar x Prudenzia (Dansili) – Trainer: Ian Williams.

Enemy has been badly out of sorts in recent starts, but massively outran his 50/1 odds off top-weight in the Old Borough Handicap Cup with a staying on 3rd. He’s been a tricky horse to place since his Meydan success in the winter, struggling in Group company, so it was pleasing to see him fly home in good order at Haydock, particularly given the lack of pace on. He shaped as if a return to two mile handicaps would suit there so it is a tad surprising he doesn’t hold a Cesarewitch entry unlike Tritonic who finished on his heels. Regardless, he’s one to keep an eye on especially if his mark continues to drop.

Haydock 15:35 (Ayr Gold Cup Ante-post pointers) – ANNAF (7/16) Muhaarar x Shimah (Storm Cat) – Trainer: Michael Appleby + ROHAAN (10/17) Mayson x Vive Les Rouges (Acclamation) – Trainer: David Evans.

Not much got into the race from off the pace in the G1 Sprint Cup where short-priced favourite Shaquille evidently didn’t give his true running. I thought Shouldvebeenaring shaped well in 2nd, and looked as if a return to 7F will suit but I can’t imagine they’ll be many 7F races on quick ground for him this Autumn. The two horses I want to take out of the race are Annaf and Rohaan, who are both entered in the Ayr Gold Cup Handicap. Annaf caught the eye travelling strongest of all, though twice wasn’t granted a clear in the final two furlongs when asked for an effort, but still finished off well under hands and heels. Albeit winless on turf, he’s ran creditably in all starts this season, notably when 2nd to Bradsell in the G1 King’s Stand. The handicapper hasn’t done much relenting however he’s likely to be dropped at least a pound for his run at Haydock, and he’d be very interesting off a mark of 105 at Ayr.

Rohaan was given a similar ride to Annaf, finishing off with plenty of running having been without room two furlongs out. We know by now that Rohaan needs things to drop perfectly for him off a strong pace, but I’ve a strong sense he’s being targeted towards the Ayr Gold Cup as we know he’s capable of winning a big pot (Wokingham winner in ‘21+’22). His productive season last year saw him start this one rated 113, and given he’s now rated 102 (likely to be dropped a further pound), he’d be a massive player off a dwindling mark in the Ayr Gold Cup with that race likely to suit. His record in 6F handicaps reads 1121511, so it should come as no surprise if connections were to declare that entry. At 20/1, he’d be my better bet of the pair.

16:10 Haydock – Tees Spirit (2/12) Swiss Spirit x Mistress Twister (Pivotal) – Trainer: Adrian Nicholls. 

Tees Spirit was a handicapping revelation last season, winning five of his eight races beginning off a mark of 71, finishing with a listed win at Tipperary climbing to a mark of 104. He subsequently finished 18/18 in the G1 Prix de l’Abbaye on heavy ground in October which blotted his progress, and unfortunately picked up where he left off in May at Naas with a 6L 6/10. He once again came home last this time in Chantilly, before a 9/10 in the Shergar Cup and a 15/16 in the Nunthorpe. A form reader would say he’s not been good enough, though a cynic would suggest he’s been campaigned to lower his mark for a nice handicap pot. Taking the view of a cynic, he’s mysteriously been granted an entry in the Portland Cup at Doncaster on Saturday. He’s of major interest in that now after his close 2nd to Raasel at Haydock, where he was badly hampered at the start and unfavored by his high draw. Had he not been butchered at the start, I think he may have won, so it’s wise to upgrade that performance and now he’s somewhat shown to be in form, if he takes up the Portland entry he’s certainly worth a look given his track record that reads 2321.

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St Leger Festival Punts


1.15 Doncaster – Meriel Tufnell Apprentice Handicap (Class 4) (3yo+ 0-85)

JUMP THE GUN (20/1 William Hill, awaiting further odds – 1pt E/W)

Willie Pyle and Ian Jardine have become a profitable pair to follow this season, with their record reading 16-6-3 with a profit margin of £18.00+ to a £1 stake. They team up with Jump The Gun who wouldn’t be an immediately obvious candidate on the balance of his form this season, and his dwindling mark mirrors that assertion. However, he began the season off a mark of 96 after a productive campaign last year, with handicap successes off 76 and 82, before placing off 90 and then beaten 3L in listed company. He’s struggled off higher marks since, but there was positives to draw out from his 9L 9th at Musselburgh last time out. Firstly, the winner won by five lengths, suited by making all from an easy lead. Jump The Gun did too much too soon from his wide draw to grab a prominent position but was still travelling well three out, but inevitably weakened. He was only beaten 4L by the 2nd and that was after being eased down. The handicapper has dropped him a very kind 5lbs fr that run, which was easily his best this season, now he’s 2lbs below his last winning mark and 4lbs higher than his cosy enough win here last season. Willie Pyle takes a valuable 5lbs off so he’s effectively running off 75, and given he’s won off 75, 76, and 82, he’s weighted to go in once more. The ground is likely to be soft come raining given the deluge around Doncaster, and while his wins have only come on good ground, he was only beaten 3/4L here over 7F on heavy ground and his top two RPR’s came with soft in the description. He’s not won over 6F since dotting up at Southwell as a 2yo, but the pace looks to be strong and his extra stamina reserves will likely come in to play, and he could pick them off if returning to hold up tactics.

Meriel Tufnell Apprentice Handicap

3.00 Doncaster – Betfred May Hill Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (2yo)

LES BLUES (14/1 Bet365, 11/1 generally – 0.5pt E/W three places)

It often pays dividends to follow the (SP) head of the betting in the May Hill Stakes, with 9/12 winners having been the 1st/2nd favourite. However there has been the odd larger priced winner, with Polly Pott winning at 40/1 last year, Fleeting at 12s in 2018 and Lyric Of Light winning at 9/1 in 2011. Les Bleus will likely be overlooked in the market, but that shouldn’t put anyone off her chances as she arguably has the best collateral form in the contest. She overcame greenness and a pace bias when winning a shade cosily on her 2nd race-course start at Newmarket, and wasn’t disgraced upped to 7F when a staying on 4L 3rd in the Sweet Solera stakes over C&D next time out, a race which has thrown up two winners of the May Hill in recent years. That form has worked out nicely with the 5th taking a German G3 next time out, the 2nd (Soprano) running a massive race in the Dick Poole after completely blowing the start, and the winner taking the coveted G1 Moyglare on at the Curragh last weekend. Being a daughter of Blue Point, the step up to a mile isn’t an obvious one for Les Bleus, however she was once again outpaced in the middle part of the race next time out in a G2 at Deauville on heavy ground, before coming home well in the final furlong shaping like she wants further. The trip will be unknown, but Blue Points progeny have at least already won over 7F despite his speedy career, and there’s miler’s in her pedigree. She’s the most experienced filly in the contest with four runs and given her promise on soft ground, she may well handle the conditions more than most, with the booking of Ryan Moore certainly a positive.

Betfred May Hill Stakes (Group 2)

4.10 Doncaster – Hippo Bamboo Wipes Handicap (Class 2) (3yo 0-105)

BURGLAR – (8/1 generally – 1pt win)

John & Thady Gosden have a respectable record in handicaps at Doncaster in the last five seasons, with their record reading 29-8-15 (£12.72+) (4-11 overall this season). Robert Havlin is also the course’s leading rider this season with five wins and nine places from fourteen rides. They team up with Burglar in this trappy handicap, a horse who I believe will prove to be much better than what his bare form suggests this season. By Cracksman out. Of the excellent (brood)mare Hidden Hope, Burglar was already given a Derby entry prior to his impressive debut at Lingfield. He was a beaten favourite next time out when too keen to do himself justice, but got himself back in the winners enclosure with another comfortable success under Havlin at Redcar defying a penalty in the process. He wasn’t disgraced when midfield in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot, but took a backwards step at Newmarket thereafter when again failing to settle. He improved on RPR’s on a first time hood when 2nd to an unbeaten Godolphin colt over the same C&D, and I don’t think the small field suited, nor do I think he’s suited by the July course. He’s clearly suited going left handed as he has tended to hang that way, and a flat/galloping track appears to be his preference too. With those three requirements in mind, he should be more at home around a track like Doncaster. In terms of the ground, Cracksman’s progeny have shown a likeness for the mud, so the softer conditions may also play to his strengths and I’m expecting him to take a big step forward.

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2.25 Doncaster – Carlsberg Danish Pilsner Flying Childers Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (2yo)

DAWN CHARGER (9/1 Bet365, 8/1 generally – 0.5pt win) *NOT DECLARED*

First season sire Soldier’s Call took this race in 2018 after his success in the G3 Prix d’Arenberg and while Dawn Charger was beaten a neck 2nd in that contest at the end of last month, I fancy her to emulate his sire’s success in this race five years ago. The drop back to 5F suited Karl Burke’s mount, who didn’t stay the 6F in the Albany at Ascot who weakened inside the final furlong having raced keenly and making all. While I do think she’ll win races over six, the galloping straight at Doncaster will suit her especially on the soft ground that she’s proven to enjoy so far in her five race career. I’d have doubts regarding several of these on softer going, including the current favourite (Inquisitively) on softer going with him racing exclusively on GF so far. Big Evs will likely prove popular once more, but he had a tough race in the Nunthorpe after his gruelling Molecomb win on soft ground, and I’d be worried whether those races have left their mark. Dawn Charger is one of a few pace angles in the contest and if the draw is kind, hopefully he can return to prominent tactics and attempt to make all under Clifford Lee.

3.20 Chester – Envirosips Handicap (Class 4) (4yo+ 0-80)

WONDERWALL (5/2 Bet365 – 2pt win)

Having won a bumper, a hurdle and a chase, Wonderwall is a swiss-army knife in the form of a thoroughbred, and he looks to add a flat win to his collection of tools. He went straight in my tracker when 2nd over an inadequate 1m2f on his flat debut at Pontefract, where showed an excellent aptitude for racing on the level beaten just a neck giving 8lbs to the 1st and 3rd. The latter reversed that form next time out at Doncaster, gaining a rating of 84 for his 3L win. The form in behind has worked out too with the 3rd (who was in receipt of a stone) winning off a mark of 72 next time out, then following up off a mark of 76 at York. The 4th, Jeff Koons, was also beaten a neck off a mark of 86 last time out. With those pieces of collateral form in mind, it seems the handicapper has let his guard down allotting Wonderwall a lenient mark of 79. We can possibly forgive his 5L 7th at Chelmsford next time out as he broke slowly and did too much when usher to the front, and it may be that he didn’t handle the surface. Given he’s a well built horse who’s won over 2m5f over fences, the fact he’s ran to a solid level of form over 1m2f in flat maidens is a testament to his ability, and he’s surely going to improve upon those now upped to two miles for his flat handicap debut. Interestingly, he’s recently been given an entry in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket next month and he’ll want to be a bit better than a mark of 79 should he take up that entry, and a facile win here off top-weight would be a step closer to ensuring that is the case. The cheek-pieces are back on this time, and they seemed to work well enough when midfield in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

3.35 Doncaster – Betfred Mallard Handicap (Class 2) (3yo+ 0-105)

BAGUE D’OR (7/1 generally – 1pt win) + RHYTHMIC INTENT (14/1 Bet365, 12/1 generally – 1pt E/W three places)

Before I begin with Bague D’Or, there’s one I fancy in here at larger odds which is the 2021 winner Rhythmic Intent, however given he raced last week and isn’t jocked up, I won’t risk advising him as an official selection just yet, but will likely add in if declared.

There’s a few familiar faces in here that have been nice to us this season, Aimeric was a winner for the weekend watch at Beverley, Marhaba The Champ was a 20/1 winner for us earlier on in the season, and Legendary Day was 3rd behind Marhaba The Champ recently at York, where he was an EW NAP at a nice price. Bague D’Or was a pointer for the column after his excellent reappearance when splitting the last two mentioned horses, after a monster 391 day layoff. The bounce factor is always in the back of your mind after a performance like that, however he was 2nd in last years reappearance from a 213 day layoff before following up at Newmarket. He backed up that performance at Ascot beating two dual subsequent winners, before bumping into Trawlerman. He was beaten a length there at Goodwood, and Trawlerman subsequently won the Ebor off 101, now rated 112. Bague D’Or was put up 3lbs to 91 off the back of that 2nd last time out, but if he comes on for that run, then he’s very well handicapped on that Trawlerman form. That was over an inadequate 1m4f, as his form excelled when upped to 1m6f (1st,1st,2nd) so stepping back up to the Mallard trip will suit. Eight of the last twenty winners of the Mallard raced at York last time out, and 8/20 had also had previously one run at Doncaster, so Bague D’Or ticks a couple of the key trends.

Betfred Mallard Handicap

Hippo Clean Edge Masking Tape Confined Nursery Handicap (For horses With No More Than One Win) (Class 4) (2yo 0-85)

BOARDROOM (13/2 Bet365, 6/1 William Hill – 1pt win)

Boardroom is a horse that evidently possesses bundles of ability, but his racecourse inexperience was more than apparent on debut. It was a miracle she got as close as she did to the now 100 rated winner, who coincidentally lines up in the Flying Childers earlier on in the card. She was outpaced in rear and could barely coordinate her legs, but showed a terrific engine to power home for 2nd, unsurprisingly clocking the quickest final two furlongs. She was more professional next time out but still showed greenness, with Harry Russell earning his riding feet, again giving everything he has from two out. She won very cosily at Thirsk there, again in soft ground, and the 3rd is now rated 83. We can forgive her 11L 10th in a listed contest at the Ebor meeting, as she was in rear throughout and never put into it on the quick ground. That run has qualified her for a mark and off a rating of 79 she could be well in on nursery debut especially with that Grace Thunder form. The long, galloping straight at Doncaster will aid her cause as Harry Russell will be able to wind her up early if she is still somewhat lazy, with the soft ground in her favour.

Hippo Clean Edge Masking Tape Confined Nursery Handicap (For horses With No More Than One Win)

Matt Sutcliffe’s St Leger Days One + Two Bets


1.15 Doncaster – JUMP THE GUN (1pt E/W – 20/1 William Hill)

3.00 Doncaster – LES BLUES (0.5pt E/W three places – 14/1 Bet365, 11/1 generally)

4.10 Doncaster – BURGLAR (1pt win – 8/1 William Hill)


2.25 Doncaster – DAWN CHARGER (0.5pt win – 9/1 Bet365, 8/1 generally)

3.20 Chester – WONDERWALL (2pt win – 5/2 Bet365)

3.35 Doncaster – BAGUE D’OR (1pt win – 7/1 generally) + RHYTHMIC INTENT (1pt E/W three places – 14/1 Bet365, 12/1 generally)

5.20 Doncaster – BOARDROOM (1pt win – 13/2 Bet365, 6/1 William Hill)

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