Turf Talk: Jet Away to Donny for St Leger opener

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THE St Leger is the oldest of the five UK classics and this year’s renewal takes place at Doncaster on Saturday.

Sir Michael Stoute saddles the hot favourite Sea Moon who aims to give the trainer his second Leger win after Conduit broke his duck in 2008. The festival kicks off on Wednesday with a seven race card, and the cards get better through the week.

Wednesday starts off with an interesting card, focused on the older horses, including a listed race, a conditions races and a group two race for older fillies and mares.

The group two race, the Park Hill Stakes, looks a strong renewal, with recent listed winner Motrice making a quick turnaround and the consistent mare of Clive Cox Polly’s Mark providing stiff competition. That said, the best horse on ratings, and a proven stayer, is David Lanigan’s star filly MEEZNAH, who bounced back to form in a big way when winning the Lillie Langtry Stakes (Group 3) at the recent Goodwood Festival.

Meeznah had the beating of both Motrice and Polly’s Mark that day, and looked an out and out stayer, grinding out a win under Frankie Dettori, who keeps the ride here. Although she disappointed last time out when finishing seventh in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, she was giving a stone away to the three year olds and was never going well. This race looks easier than her recent test behind Brown Panther and Census and she can bounce back to form.

JET AWAY built on his three year old career when beating decent yardstick Sri Putra on his first start as a four year old. He was unlucky when finishing second behind Passion for Gold in a listed race at Goodwood, when finding little after arriving on the scene cruising. The drop down to 10 furlongs from 12 furlongs should suit, and given his pedigree, there could be bags of improvement to come. He looks to have some star quality in a fairly modest conditions race.

HAMISH McGONAGALL is one of the most resilient sprinters in training, and goes in the Scarborough Stakes on Wednesday where he looks to have a very strong chance. He took a while to get into the swing of things this year, after a promising conditions stakes victory, finishing down the field in two group two races, although not beaten that far on either occasion.

He then ran well in group races in Chantilly and at the Curragh, before a good second to Margot Did in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York just three weeks ago. That form was franked when Hoof It ran an excellent race in the Haydock Sprint Cup, finishing a head behind Dream Ahead and Bated Breath. His form is rock solid, and streets ahead of his rivals. The only threats appear to be Dinkum Diamond and Medicean Man, who will need to improve further to get anywhere near the impressive six year old.

3.00 Doncaster (Thursday) – Meeznah (Nap)

3.10 Doncaster (Wednesday) – Hamish McGonagall

4.20 Doncaster (Wednesday) – Jet Away