A top-quality entry of 52 has been received for the £100,000 Group Two Saint Gobain Weber Park Stakes on the fourth and final day of the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival at Doncaster, Saturday, September 10.
Aidan O’Brien has yet to win the seven-furlong contest but Ireland’s champion Flat trainer has eight contenders this year including last season’s champion two-year-old Air Force Blue and Hit It A Bomb, successful in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland in October.
Other notable three-year-old entries in the 2016 Saint Gobain Weber Park Stakes include G1 Coronation Stakes runner-up Nemoralia (Jeremy Noseda) and recent impressive Newmarket Listed winner Lumiere (Mark Johnston), who also took the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes last season.
First Selection (Simon Crisford) was second in the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains, the French 2000 Guineas, at Deauville in May, while Nathra (John Gosden) filled the same position in the fillies’ equivalent, the G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.
Sir Michael Stoute has entered a pair of lightly-raced three-year-olds in Thikriyaat and Forge, who were second and third respectively in the G3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
The older generation includes the five-year-old Suedois (David O’Meara), who chased home last year’s Saint Gobain Weber Park Stakes victor Limato in the G1 July Cup at Newmarket earlier this month.
Toormore (Richard Hannon) has gained four victories at G2 level and went down by a neck in last season’s G1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, while fellow Godolphin contenders Dutch Connection (Charlie Hills) and Home Of The Brave (Hugo Palmer) have both scored in G3 company.
Donjuan Triumphant captured the six-furlong G2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte on soft ground in France in October, 2015, and the Richard Fahey-trained three-year-old could step up in trip following two appearances over the same distance this season.
The Dream Ahead colt stayed on well to take second behind Quiet Reflection in the G2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock Park on May 28 but could only finish ninth behind the same horse in the G1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on June 17.
His owner, Middleham Park Racing, has another Saint Gobain Weber Park Stakes entry to the Marco Botti-trained Naadirr, who finished fourth in last year’s race and was recently purchased by the syndicate manager alongside reigning All-Weather Champion Grendisar.
Five-year-old Naadirr ended his 2015 campaign with a creditable fifth behind Muhaarar in the G1 British Champions Sprint and has continued to race over shorter trips this season, most recently when coming home sixth behind Markaz (Owen Burrows) in the six-furlong G3 Chipchase Stakes on Tapeta at Newcastle on June 25.
Tom Palin of Middleham Park Racing commented: “Donjuan Triumphant has matured a bit in his races and has been looking like he would appreciate the step up to seven furlongs this season.”
“He has come out of Royal Ascot OK and it might be the case that he bounced a touch after running well in the Sandy Lane Stakes. He is fighting fit and we have also given him an entry in the Prix Maurice de Gheest over six and a half furlongs (G1, Deauville, August 7).”
“Soft ground is not the key to him, but he certainly seems to act on it better than most.”
“Naadirr is a new recruit to us – Marco Botti wanted to enter the horse in this race before we purchased him and we were more than happy to go along with him.”
“He was fourth in the race last year and also won the Cammidge Stakes at Doncaster at the start of last season, so we know that he goes well there. We might look at running him somewhere in the meantime, but we will leave it up to Marco.”
“We were down at Newmarket and one of our owners, Pete Barker, who has a horse with Marco, heard that both Naadirr and Grendisar were for sale. They both passed the vet with flying colours and will now race for us.”
The feature race on Saturday, September 10 is the final British Classic of the year, the Ladbrokes St Leger, which has record prize money of £700,000.
As well as the Saint Gobain Weber Park Stakes, there is another G2 race on the Ladbrokes St Leger Day card – the At The Races Champagne Stakes and entries for the seven-furlong race for two-year-olds close on Tuesday, July 26 and will be announced the following day.
At Goodwood on Saturday Minding looks a good thing in the Nassau Stakes and Brando is worth an e/w at 12/1 for the stewards cup on the card.
Yours In Sport!