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Thursday, September 1, 2011





The 2011 Ladbrokes St Leger Festival at Doncaster is now less than a week away and  the countdown steps up a gear today with the unveiling of the entries for the opening day, Welcome To Yorkshire Day, Wednesday, September 7.


Highly-competitive action looks guaranteed, with a total of 198 entries for the seven-race card.


The richest race of the day is the £40,000 Listed Scarbrough Stakes (3.10pm, 22 entries) over five furlongs for two-year-olds and upwards. Last year’s renewal fell to Prohibit, who subsequently landed the Group One King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot this year.


Trainer Jeremy Gask hopes that Medicean Man and possibly Anne Of Kiev will head to the Scarbrough Stakes. The talented speedsters are among the entries revealed today for the prestigious contest, which is the feature race on day one of the fantastic four-day Ladbrokes St Leger Festival.


The Warminster-based trainer saddled Medicean Man to clinch the runner-up berth in the Shergar Cup Dash at Ascot last month, a race in which the five-year-old held the John Quinn-trained Duchess Dora in third and had the Kevin Ryan-trained Shoshoni Wind further back in fourth.


Three of Medicean Man’s seven career wins have come at Ascot but the five-year-old broke his maiden at Doncaster when successful over six furlongs there in June, 2009.


Gask’s six-year-old mare Anne Of Kiev, winner of the Listed Cecil Frail Stakes at Haydock in May, may yet head to the Ladbrokes Portland Handicap over an extended five furlongs at Doncaster on Ladbrokes St Leger Day, Saturday, September 10.  


Gask revealed today: “I would say at this stage the plan is certainly for Medicean Man to go to Doncaster for the Scarbrough Stakes if the ground is okay - I wouldn’t want it too firm there.



“He is more likely to go because Anne Of Kiev will possibly be entered in the Portland Handicap too, we will keep our options open with her. She may have the one run before the Ayr Gold Cup or she might go straight to that race, we will see how she is when she gallops this weekend.


“I’m delighted with Medicean Man. We have given him a few weeks just to freshen up. I think from here, we hold some desire that he might end up going to France or perhaps back to Ascot on Champions Day. We will wait and see how he goes at Doncaster but he is in great form.


“He loves it at Ascot. I’m hoping he’s not just an Ascot horse and I don’t necessarily think that he is. I’m sure he’s more adaptable than that.”


Tim Easterby has engaged a trio of smart contenders headed by Hamish McGonagall, runner-up to Margot Did in the Group One Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes over the distance at York on August 19. Stablemate Captain Dunne, winner of the Investec Dash at Epsom on Derby day, was seventh in that Knavesmire contest, while Confessional is the third Easterby entrant.


Group Therapy was third in the 2010 contest on Town Moor and has been in good form this season for his new handler David Barron, his best effort being when third to Masamah in the Group Two Audi King George Stakes at Goodwood in July.


The Henry Candy-trained Dinkum Diamond was runner-up over the course and distance at last year’s Ladbrokes St Leger Festival when a neck behind Zebedee in the Group Two Polypipe Flying Childers Stakes. 


Swiss Dream, trained by David Elsworth, has enjoyed a fine season and scored in the Listed Hopeful Stakes over six furlongs at Newmarket on August 27, having defeated the Ralph Beckett-trained Pabusar in a handicap there back in July.


Humidor, trained by George Baker, was fifth behind Masamah in the Group Two Audi King George Stakes over the distance at Glorious Goodwood on July 28, and also finished third to Night Carnation in the Group Three Coral Charge over the distance at Sandown on July 2.


Among the 22 entries are four from the juvenile ranks, headed by the Ed Dunlop-trained Burwaaz, who was third to Caspar Netscher in the Group Two Gimcrack Stakes over six furlongs at York on August 19.


Tom Dascombe could saddle the smart two-year-old pair of Pyman’s Theory, Group Three-placed at Chantilly in July, and Bear Behind, recently runner-up in a Deauville Listed contest. The other juvenile holding an entry is the Mark Johnston-trained Vocational.


The entries also include Stone Of Folca, Beyond Desire, Breathless Kiss, Golden Destiny, Aneedah and The Thrill Is Gone.




Welcome To Yorkshire Day kicks off with the Arena Structures Nursery (2.00pm) over seven furlongs for two-year-olds, which has attracted 32 entries including the hat-trick seeking Pride And Joy and Jessie’s Dream, who has won both her starts for Yorkshire handler Ann Duffield.


The Napoleons Sheffield Conditions Stakes (2.35pm), run over six furlongs for two-year-olds, often proves to be an informative guide for the future and was won by subsequent Pattern race performer Barefoot Lady in 2010. Among the 14 entries this year is the Richard Hannon-trained Eureka, who was a staying-on sixth last time out in the Group Two Richmond Stakes at Goodwood and Godolphin’s Gold City, who was second in the ultra-competitive Ripon Champion Two Years Old Trophy on August 29.


Some of the most popular and successful jockeys from both codes of racing will don the silks one more time in the second running of the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes (3.45pm, 43 entries) over the straight mile. The race is in aid of two Yorkshire-based charity projects - the IJF House That Jack Built in Malton, the Injured Jockeys Fund project inspired by former trainer Jack Berry to build a rehabilitation centre in Malton and the redevelopment at the Northern Racing College.


In a star-studded line-up, St Leger-winning riders George Duffield, John Reid and Kevin Darley will be joined by American legend Julie Krone, the world’s most successful female jockey, Ernie Johnson, Norman Williamson, Thierry Gillet, Dale Gibson, Luke Harvey, Ray Cochrane, Jamie Osborne, Steve Smith Eccles, Graham Bradley, Gay Kelleway, Tom O'Ryan and Charlie Swan, who took the spoils last year. Gary Bardwell and John Francome are on standby as reserves.


The Coopers Marquees Conditions Stakes (4.20pm), run over 10 furlongs and 60 yards, boasts an impressive roll of honour with the likes of Twice Over, Echo Of Light and Big Bad Bob all having landed the contest in recent years. Among the 22 entries for the 2011 renewal are Elusive Pimpernel, runner-up in the 2009 Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and Godolphin’s Zeitoper, who was unbeaten in three races as a two-year-old in 2009. An intriguing entry is the Chilean-bred Sahara Sun, who was last seen out when second in a Grade One event at Valparaiso in his homeland on February 6 but is now in the care of Newmarket handler Luca Cumani.


The final two races on the card are the seven-furlong Quattrovalli Luxury Wine Champions Handicap (4.50pm, 21 entries) and the five-furlong ladbrokes.com Handicap (5.20pm, 44 entries).




Jon Pullin, Doncaster’s Clerk of the Course, reported today: “The going at Doncaster is currently good to firm.


“It was dry between our last raceday on August 13 up until last Thursday and Friday (August 25 and 26), when we had just over 30 millimetres of rain. This resulted in the current going description of good to firm and we are watering today and tomorrow to maintain conditions.



“The forecast is for warmer weather as this week goes on with temperatures reaching 22/23 degrees Celsius on Saturday. There might be a little drop of rain around on Sunday, but it shouldn’t be significant.


“We will keep an eye on the forecast over the weekend and then make any further decisions about watering.


“The track is looking in very good shape ahead of the four days next week.”


The four-day Ladbrokes St Leger Festival runs from Wednesday, September 7, through to Saturday, September 10, inclusive.


For further information and to book tickets, please go to www.doncaster-racecourse.co.uk

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