Racing fans have an excellent day of action to enjoy on Saturday with high class and valuable contests taking place on both sides of the Irish Sea. In Britain, the pick of the action comes at Chester and, of course, at Doncaster where the St Leger brings down the curtain on 2020’s Classics.
In Ireland it’s Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown with the Irish Champion Stakes the feature race. ITV Racing will be covering the pick of the racing from all three tracks and we’ve picked through the eight live races in our Saturday racing tips below.
1:50 bet365 Champagne Stakes
Chindit to win – 9/4
Saturday’s ITV Racing action begins with a classy race for two year olds held over a distance of seven furlongs. The Group 2 Champagne Stakes has been won by horses who have gone on to claim success at the very top level and connections of Albasheer are hopeful he will follow that same path. The Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt is already entered in the Dewhurst Stakes and the Derby on the back of just one appearance which tells you just how highly rated he is.
Albasheer is the narrow favourite for the Champagne Stakes, closely followed by Chindit. Some bookies can’t separate the pair and it’s easy to see why. Chindit may not have the out and out class of his rival but he does have one more race under his belt, coming on from winning his maiden to beating some good horses in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes. Whilst Albasheer should go on to have the more successful career, Chindit is in a slightly better position to win this so he is the selection for us at odds of 9/4.
2:05 #ChesterRaces Supports The Injured Jockeys Fund Stand Cup Stakes
Universal Order to win – 3/1
The first of two races from Chester is up next. You might expect the quality of racing to take a drop away from the main meeting of the day but we have an excellent renewal of this 1m4½f Listed race ahead of us.
Morando sits at the top of the betting and although he has bags of experience at this level and higher, the seven year old has not been in good form and may just be showing signs of decline so it’s tough to get excited about his billing as the favourite. Next comes Alignak who drops back in class and trip from contesting the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes last time but may just lack the pace to win this competitive renewal.
Preference, therefore, goes to the progressive Universal Order at 3/1. His win the Fred Archer Stakes over 1m4f at Newmarket suggested that David Simcock’s four year old should be given a crack against Group level opponents. That came in the Silver Cup Stakes in which he ran with great credit over a trip that was probably just too long. This is a race that should suit him much better and suggests that Universal Order is well priced.
2:25 bet365 Portland Handicap
Mountain Peak each way – 14/1
The St Leger Festival is home to some excellent handicaps including the Portland Handicap which takes place over a distance of five and a half furlongs. The chance to win a good prize has attracted a full field of 22 horses which only makes life tougher for punters in a race which has gone to a horse priced 12/1 or greater in seven of the last 10 renewals.
This is an inherently unpredictable race but one thing you can be sure of is that Mountain Peak will give a good account of himself on Saturday. Ed Walker’s five year old has been in consistently good form this season. The handicapper has had a say for Moutain Peak’s win at Haydock last month but he still has enough about him to be very competitive off a mark of 99. Even if the win proves to be just beyond him, a place is certainly not; so take the 14/1 available on Mountain Peak each way.
2:40 Racing Together How Sport Helps Others Handicap
Maydanny to win – 4/1
When Maydanny won a Class 4 handicap at Yarmouth with relative ease upon the restart of British horse racing, connections were hopeful that he would fly up the handicap ratings and potentially even move into competing at a higher level. Unfortunately, he followed that win up with disappointing runs at both Ascot and Newmarket which left his trainer, Mark Johnston, scratching his head and Hamdan Al Maktoum wondering why he paid 1.35 million guineas for him as a yearling.
Maydanny got back to winning ways in a big field handicap at Glorious Goodwood when stepped up to 1m2f and has every chance of earning another win at just half a furlong further at Chester on Saturday. There is no need to read too much into his recent disappointing run at York as the soft ground on the Knavesmire simply didn’t suit. He’ll be back on much more suitable ground on Saturday and should earn the win at a price of 4/1.
3:00 bet365 Park Stakes
Limato to win – 5/2
We return to Doncaster next for the Group 2 Park Stakes. On paper, we should be in for an exciting renewal of this seven furlong contest with a couple of highly experienced horses taking on some progressive three and four year olds. That is one interesting element of the race but the defining factor is likely to be the tactics employed by Frankie Dettori on board Wichita.
Aidan O’Brien’s three year old hasn’t been able to grab the big Group level win that connections were hopeful of after a good juvenile campaign but he remains a likeable character who is likely to try and dominate proceedings on Saturday. If Wichita can set a fairly sedate pace his finishing speed may be enough to win this but it only takes one horse to take him on out in front for the Park Stakes to pan out perfectly for Limato.
Henry Candy’s eight year old is right at home in strongly run seven furlong races on firmer ground. Things panned out perfectly for him last time out when winning the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket back in June and it could be more of the same at Doncaster.
3:10 Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes
Fancy Blue to win – 7/4
The Matron Stakes is one of two Group 1 races taking place at Leopardstown which are being shown live by ITV Racing on Saturday. Some of the best fillies and mares in racing have taken this race in over the years with wins for big name trainers including Aidan O’Brien and Joseph O’Brien.
It’s another O’Brien who is in the driving seat this time with Fancy Blue the bookies’ favourite for Donnacha O’Brien at 7/4. The young trainer will always hold Fancy Blue in strong regard as she was the first horse to land a Group 1 success for Donnacha. The three year old followed that win in Chantilly up with another battling win in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and she is ready to win again on her return to racing in Ireland.
3:35 Pertemps St Leger
Santiago to win – 11/4
The St Leger is the oldest Classic in all of horse racing. Racing fans have been treated to some incredible battles over the years and the 2020 running looks as though it is going to live up to the billing. The betting market shows that this is a hugely competitive renewal with Pyledriver and Santiago locked at the top of the betting and Galileo Chrome being the subject of a serious game in the days leading up to the race.
Pyledriver is the horse narrowly getting the most support in the betting after he put a disappointing run in the Derby behind him with an impressive victory in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York. Martin Dwyer’s colt has is already an excellent competitor over a mile and a half but will have to go an extra two and a half furlongs in the St Leger and is by no means assured of getting the trip.
That opens the door for the long time ante post favourite for the St Leger, Santiago. Not only has he already been tried out over two miles, he did so against Stradivarius and Nayef Road in the Goodwood Cup. Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore were confident enough to really try to serve it up to those two top class stayers and Santiago’s third place finish a very credible result. Frankie Dettori gets the ride on Saturday with Ryan Moore over at Leopardstown and he can partner Santiago to Classic success at odds of 11/4.
4:10 Irish Champion Stakes
Ghaiyyath to win – 8/13
The Irish Champion Stakes is a hugely important race for a couple of reasons. Not only is it a prestigious Group 1 which includes a prize fund of €750,000, but it is so highly regarded that it adds a significant amount to a horse’s fee at stud.
Ghaiyyath is already going to command a huge fee should his stud career go to plan and it should increase after Saturday’s race as he is the clear 8/13 favourite. For many racing fans William Buick’s five year old has been the best horse in training this year. He has gone from a talented but precocious young horse to a supremely talented and reliable performer at the very top level and it is difficult to see any of his opponents getting in his way at Leopardstown.
If there is a rival to the favourite who represents value in the betting it’s Sottsass for Jean-Claude Rouget. The four year old is widely regarded as one of the best horses in France and will not be easy to shake off at Leopardstown. Beating Ghaiyyath is a big ask but Sottsass is tempting for those looking for an each way bet or who fancy backing the forecast.