Jamie Lynch's Monthly High-Fives: September 2018

Will Aidan O'Brien be celebrating more St Leger success in September?
Will Aidan O'Brien be celebrating more St Leger success in September?

Timeform chief correspondent Jamie Lynch picks out five important dates coming up in September including the St Leger at Doncaster...

"As good as Sea of Class and Lah Ti Dar were in the Yorkshire Oaks and Galtres respectively, neither are near where Enable was at the same stage of her three-year-old career..."

Jamie Lynch on Enable

English philosopher Bernard Williams said that September tries its best to have us forget summer. In racing, it's more a case that September tries its best to have us understand summer, clarifying and contextualising what went on by means of the various features and festivals through the month that mark the beginning of the end of the season. But for some it is just getting started...

1. SEPTEMBER STAKES, Kempton - Sept 8

Queen Elizabeth I had Mary Stuart beheaded for conspiring to usurp her.

Take note Sea of Class and Lah Ti Dar, the pair of plotters who both made their dethroning designs crystal clear at York, because the Queen of European racing is about to return from her enforced exile: willing, ready and Enable.

As good as Sea of Class and Lah Ti Dar were in the Yorkshire Oaks and Galtres respectively, neither are near where Enable was at the same stage of her three-year-old career, food for thought ahead of her regal return in the September Stakes, in which nothing less than a wide-margin win will do, considering the Arc is the race on the line and a race against time.

Same objective, different approach, the pre-Arc question flipping from too much racing in 2017 to too little this year. Only time will tell, but Kempton will tell us a lot. Enable has the capacity to change the face of the autumn, making September 8th a most important date for the season because it's such an important date for Enable.

2. SPRINT CUP, Haydock - Sept 8

Hot - or, more to the point, cold - on the heels of Enable as a defending champion making a cooler approach to the race that defined them, we have Harry Angel in the Sprint Cup. It's been eleven weeks - and a sprint statement by U S Navy Flag and a flash and burn by Battaash - since Harry's hardship at the stalls at Royal Ascot, meaning that, while not back to the drawing board, the original sketches have resurfaced for a blitzing blueprint.

Let's not forget that the reappearing Harry Angel looked as good as new in the Duke of York when giving weight and a thrashing to July Cup runner-up Brando and triple Group-winner Sir Dancealot. On that form, as well as last year's Sprint Cup, he should be odds-on, and the reason he's around 2/1 reflects the worry over his well-being, tied in with his in-built exuberance that's liable to manifest all the more after his absence.

The second, third and fourth from the 2017 renewal - Tasleet, The Tin Man and Blue Point - are locked and loaded to re-oppose, while Limato is suddenly back on the radar following his welcome return from the wilderness, and the 3-y-os should be well represented by the Commonwealth Cup principals. In short, this is a proper Group 1, though it's Harry's to lose.

3. ST LEGER FESTIVAL, Doncaster - Sept 12-15

Time flies because Doncaster has fun, a four-day meeting that hardly feels like a four-day meeting, not taking itself too seriously and building to the Saturday crescendo, the St Leger, a classic won by either Aidan O'Brien or John Gosden in nine of the last 22 years. And at the top of the market this year are horses trained by O'Brien and Gosden, though one is 13/8 with the Betfair Sportsbook and the other is reportedly likelier to plot a path to the Arc.

It's a shame for the St Leger but an endorsement in Lah Ti Dar that she's leaning towards Longchamp, leaving the Doncaster classic at the mercy of Kew Gardens, so the odds say. On form, though, he's not ahead of the pack, with only 10 lb between 10 of them on Timeform ratings, and two beat him in his trial, albeit giving them weight and a head start. Kew Gardens is the one to beat, but by no means unbeatable.

The Leger has several Group 2s on which to lean, namely the Doncaster Cup on the Friday, in which every British-trained stayer can breathe a sigh of relief that Stradivarius won't be there, and for two-year-olds there's the Flying Childers for the sprinters and the Champagne Stakes for the 2019 classic aspirants, the unbeaten Boitron chief amongst them.

4. IRISH CHAMPIONS WEEKEND DAY 1, Leopardstown - Sept 15

It wasn't so many weeks ago that some people (and by some people I mean me) were bemoaning the shortage of stars amongst the three-year-olds, before the ascendency of the aforementioned Sea of Class and Lah Ti Dar at York, the day after Roaring Lion raised the bar for the whole generation - across the world - with a power-packed 130 performance in the Juddmonte International. That's why he's 5/4 for the Irish Champion Stakes, because bit by bit, battle by battle, Roaring Lion has established himself as the Alpha Male. And on the same day, on the same stage, an hour earlier, we'll be treated to the Alpha Female, Alpha Centauri.

What price would Alpha Centauri be against Roaring Lion in the Irish Champion? My guess would be 11/10 - and a tempting 11/10 - in a match bet, but that's maybe for next year, and the next checkpoint in the relentless rise of Alpha Centauri is gobbling up her fifth Group 1 in a row in the Matron. So the Saturday goes Champagne then Leger at Doncaster, followed by the King and Queen of the three-year-olds at Leopardstown, and if you can't get excited about that then you're in the wrong game.

5. IRISH CHAMPIONS WEEKEND DAY 2, the Curragh - Sept 16

There's the Moyglare, the Irish St Leger and the newly-upgraded Flying Five, but the best race of the day, and the best two-year-old race of the season, is the National Stakes, a collision course for four of the top five active juvenile colts.

Advertise has already bagged a Group 1 in Ireland (Phoenix Stakes), Dark Vision worked wonders to win the Vintage, and Anthony Van Dyck increasingly looks the one amongst the Ballydoyle crop. But it's Quorto who's currently rated above all of them, marginally but meaningfully so, after looking a direct chip off the old block when running to a bigger figure than his sire had in winning the Superlative. Dubawi subsequently smashed the National Stakes, showing the way for his sensational-looking son.

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