Kevin Blake

Doncaster St Leger Festival Saturday Tips: Kevin Blake expects Spycatcher to win

Horse racing expert Kevin Blake
Kevin is backing two at Doncaster on St Leger Saturday

It's St Leger day at Doncaster on Saturday and Kevin Blake makes strong cases for two tips that run in the races prior to the big one...

  • Kevin expects good-to-soft at Doncaster

  • Hurricane Ivor looks a big price if he's back to best

  • Disappointment if Spycatcher doesn't win

The ITV Racing cameras will be based at Doncaster for the coming days, with the final Classic of the season the St Leger taking centre stage on Saturday.

Rain has arrived at Doncaster, but there is some scope for the ground to dry out between now and Saturday's action. I'm proceeding on the basis of good-to-soft ground.

Doncaster 14:25 - Back Hurricane Ivor

The Betfred Portland Heritage Handicap (14:25) is a historic sprint handicap that is always one of the most hotly-contested handicaps of the season. While there is usually a lot of focus on the draw in these big-field sprints, this race isn't one that has been overly impacted by it in the recent past.

More often than not, the field have come up the middle and the position of pace has seemed to have a bigger impact than track position. On paper, there would seem to be more pace on the high side of the draws and it is that side that my fancy will start from.

The Jessica Harrington-trained Hurricane Ivor won this race off a mark of 102 for William Haggas in 2021 and went on to win a Group 3 on his next start, rising to a rating of 110. He switched to Harrington this year and won a handicap at the Curragh back in April off a mark of 96.

He subsequently finished a close third off a rating of 101 in a premier handicap back at the Curragh in May, underlining just how much ability he retains.

While he has been less competitive in recent starts, he has been aggressively dropped by the handicapper back to a mark of 92 which looks very attractive. The return to this softer ground at a course and distance that plays to his strengths might well help rejuvenate him.

If he is back to form, he will look very well handicapped and could well run a big race from what seems a good draw relative to the pace in the race. He looks to be a big price and will hopefully outrun it.

Doncaster 15:00 - Back Spycatcher

The Betfred Park Stakes (15:00) has attracted a small, but high-quality field. Cases can be made for most of the field, but none of them have a more appealing profile than the Karl Burke-trained Spycatcher.

The five-year-old has bloomed this year, starting the campaign rated 106 before booming up the ranks with a Group 3 victory at Deauville prior to just being touched off by King Gold in the Prix Maurice de Gheest back at that track. Now, that contest wasn't a vintage Group 1 in quality terms, but it was still a high-class performance that reads well in the context of this race.

He looks ready for the return to seven furlongs and the ease in the ground will hold no fears for him. The race should set up well for him with a solid pace looking likely despite the small field. It will be disappointing if he doesn't get the job done.

Back Spycatcher @ 6/42.50

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