ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Doncaster St Leger Festival Thursday Tips: Romanova catches Tony Calvin's eye at 7/1

Betfair racing tipster Tony Calvin
Just the one tip for TC on day one at Doncaster

Soft ground is a gamechanger for Thursday at Doncaster says Tony Calvin as he previews the first of four days of the St Leger meeting and recommends a bet in the May Hill Stakes...

  • Soft ground on day one of St Leger meeting

  • Four ITV races are tough for punters to crack

  • But TC finds one to back in the 15:00


The complexion for racing at Doncaster this week - on Thursday at least - changed dramatically when they got 21mm of rain in the 24 hours from Monday night onwards, and the ground is now soft.

That prompted a punt on Arrest for the St Leger on Saturday but the bad news for his supporters is that the forecast (which looked atrocious for the rest of the week) has improved appreciably again.

Anyway, we at least pretty much know the score for Thursday's ground, though it is likely to have stayed dry for 36 hours by the time racing starts.

The problem for me is that ITV's four races consist of a nursery, a 2yo sales race and two fillies' Group races.

My idea of punting hell.

Doncaster - 13:50: No bet

At least the opening ITV race is a handicap of sorts, though unfortunately a 2yo one in the shape of the fillies' 6f111yd nursery at 13:50. But I'll stop whinging and crack on.

The other starting point here is that two horses are 3lb well-in under their 6lb penalties, the 5/23.50 favourite Chic Colombine and the 11/26.50 poke Bellarchi, though the former has never raced on soft.

I suppose the other thing immediately of note when you look at the race is the presence of a William Haggas handicap debutante in first-time cheekpieces in the shape of Summit, available at 6/17.00 with the Sportsbook.

Now, Haggas is surprisingly moderate when it comes to the use of all headgear (for example, he is only 26 from 160 with initial pieces since 2016) but an opening mark of 76 for a 320,00gns sister to this year's Craven winner Indestructible clearly is of some interest.

I won't be betting in the race but I did think the busy Bellarchi is a fair price at 11/26.50, with her form claims backed up by the clock.

Doncaster - 14:25: No bet

The betting has it as a straight fight between 7/42.75 Johannes Brahms and 2/13.00 Dragon Leader in the 18-runner £300,000 sales race at 14:25, and it is hard to argue with that assessment.

The former clearly has the best form, a Gimcrack second, but he has to give 10lb to impressive York winner, so that levels their playing field.

However, both are unproven on soft - Johannes Brahms won on good to yielding on his debut at Naas in May - so that gives a chink of light to their 16 rivals.

The obvious alternative is the 95-rated filly Komat, with winning soft ground form and getting weight from all of the field, who is a 9/110.00 chance on the Betfair Sportsbook but available at 13.012/1 on the Betfair Exchange.

I actually really hope the Amo Racing Limited filly wins. Not because I like the owner, far from it, but because I hope he is present and I want to see how ITV and Sky Sports Racing handles the winning interview with him.

Doncaster - 15:00: Back Romanova

If I thought the opening two ITV races were nasty, then the 1m Group 2 fillies' May Hill Stakes at 15:00 initially had me scrambling behind the sofa.

A juvenile race, with every runner a winner and none having raced more than four times, it is clearly a contest full of unknowns.

Karl Burke has a great set of 2yos this season and his Goodwood Group 3, soft ground winner Darnation is the obvious one to beat here but the Sportsbook's 6/17.00 second favourite Romanova caught my eye the most, as her all-the-way 7f Salisbury win on the fair rail on good ground really was very taking.

It came in a very good time too, and St Albans Bloodstock were obviously equally impressed as it appears they have bought her privately from the Sangster partnership afterwards.

The potential negatives are that she is highly unlikely to get an uncontested lead here and the ground will be softer (it was soft when she was a 80/181.00 poke on her Sandown debut in a Listed race). But the striking aspect of that win was how this Golden Horn filly opened up in the final furlong at Salisbury, strongly hinting that a mile will suit.

The ground is a slight question mark, too. Her trainer, Ollie Sangster, who has done very well with his 2yos in his first season of training (6 from 26), reckons she will be versatile as regards the ground, but I guess he would say that, wouldn't he?

However, on a day where I found selections very hard to come by (and I would have been happy to file a no-bet column, especially as the non-ITV races will not be priced up until much later on Wednesday afternoon, so this isn't a loose tip), I am going to make her a small-stakes bet at 8.07/1 or bigger.

The clock suggests she has a better chance than that going into the race.

The Sportsbook's 6/17.00 is acceptable, but she currently trades at 8.07/1 on the Betfair Exchange. I'll settle at Betfair SP as usual, as with all Exchange bets.

Back Romanova @ 8.07/1 on Betfair Exchange

Bet now

Doncaster - 15:35: No bet

Good luck if you are betting in the 1m6f115yd Group 2 Park Hill Fillies' Stakes at 15:35, as you are on your own there.

It is an exceptionally tight-knit race and none of the current prices on offer tempted me in.

Shamwari is probably a fair price at around 12/113.00 on the Betfair Exchange as she has shaped as though this longer trip would suit and the new headgear may help as well (her stablemate Lumiere Rock won in first-time cheekpieces at the weekend) .

Against that, she got pulled out of Galway due to the soft ground on Tuesday, so this is presumably something of an afterthought.

I'll leave it there. Go well.


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