The highlight on day two of the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival, DFS Ladies Day,Thursday, September 13, is the £80,000 Group Two DFS Park Hill Stakes ) over an extended mile and six furlongs.
The contest, sometimes referred to as the ‘fillies’ St Leger’, will see nine runners go to post headed by Sir Henry Cecil’s impressive Group Three iShares Fillies’ Stakes scorer Wild Coco. The four-year-old will clash again with The Queen’s Royal Ascot heroine Estimate and Hazel Lavery, trained by Charlie Hills, who were third and ninth respectively at Goodwood.
Roger Varian will saddle progressive three-year-old Ambivalent, who was last seen winning the Listed Chalice Stakes by a length and a half over 12 furlongs at Newbury on August 5. Prior to that, she had taken third behind Hazel Lavery in a Listed race at Newmarket on July 21, beaten four lengths.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to Ambivalent’s owner Abdullah Saeed Belhab, said: “I saw Ambivalent this morning and she is in top form so we are hopeful. She is an improving filly and it’s a big step up for her but we think she is improving enough to put up a good show.
“She won nicely at Newbury last time. She is improving all the time and she enjoyed the faster ground because she didn’t like it soft at Newmarket the time before that.
“We are confident she will stay the trip.”
The Clive Brittain-trained Alsindi is among 18 runners in the £55,000 Group Three Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes (1.50pm) and Raymond added: “Alsindi has not run since the Italian 1,000 Guineas because she came back a bit sore and jarred up. We have given her a good rest and she is working very nicely now.
“I’m hopeful rather than confident because it’s a Group Three and she is up against it. I think she is back to her best now, which she will need to be, but there could be some improvement to come.
“She had good form as a two-year-old and I think the seven furlongs at Doncaster is a good starting point for her.”
The runners for the seven-furlong contest for fillies and mares include UAE Classic scorer Gamilati, dual Group Three winner Regal Realm and the highly-regardedSentaril.
The action on DFS Ladies Day gets underway at 1.15pm with the £30,000 European Breeders’ Fund Carrie Red Fillies’ Nursery (20 runners) over an extended six furlongs, while the most valuable race on the card is the Weatherbys Insurance £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes (2.20pm, 22 runners) over the same distance.
The third race of the day for two-year-olds is the competitive £11,500 crownhotel-bawtry.com Irish EBF Maiden (3.30pm, 15 runners) over a mile.
The penultimate race on a seven-race card is the £15,000 Ladbrokes Bingo Handicap (4.05pm, 22 runners) over six furlongs and the action is concluded with the £25,000 DFS Handicap (4.35pm, six runners) over a mile and a quarter.
Along with the Group One Ladbrokes St Leger, Saturday’s card also features a pair of Group Two contests headed by the £100,000 OLBG Park Stakes (4.15pm) over seven furlongs.
Among the 14 confirmations is Lethal Force, who responded to a change of headgear and front-running tactics when winning the Group Two Hungerford Stakes by a neck from Strong Suit on August 18.
The three-year-old, trained by Clive Cox, was beaten into second place in a conditions race at Haydock in July, having run an excellent race at Royal Ascot when fourth in the Group Three Jersey Stakes.
Cox, who trains in Lambourn, said: “Lethal Force is likely to run in the OLBG Park Stakes. I have been very happy with him since his win at Newbury and he has been in great nick.
“I wasn’t surprised by his win at Newbury. The first-time blinkers helped him concentrate but he had never been beaten further than three lengths in his life and he had run in Group Two races before.
“Admittedly, he was beaten in a small field conditions race at Haydock the time before but that was a tactical affair and didn’t play to our strengths, so we decided to make the running at Newbury.
“I would be hoping for some nice, fast ground at Doncaster.”
Other notable entries in the OLBG Park Stakes include multiple Group One winnerStarspangledbanner, Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up Foxtrot Romeo, Richard Hannon’s Strong Suit and Pastoral Player, trained by Hughie Morrison.
The other Group Two on Saturday’s card is the £82,100 One Call Insurance Champagne Stakes (2.25pm, 15 entries) which could see the return of unbeaten Group Three Acomb Stakes winner Dundonnell, the highly regarded Toronado, and Godolphin’s Royal Ascot hero Tha’ir, who has been supplemented.