Simple Verse (far side) was involved in the controversial St Leger finish
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Baxter 2:00PM 6 SEP 2016
CONNECTIONS of Simple Verse will be hoping for a stress-free afternoon on Town Moor this year, as last season’s Ladbrokes St Leger winner returns to the scene of her infamous triumph on Thursday.
The Ralph Beckett-trained filly’s dramatic victory over Bondi Beach, which went to BHA headquarters on appeal after the raceday stewards reversed the placings in favour of Aidan O’Brien’s runner, was one of the most sensational finishes in the race’s 240-year history.
Simple Verse has failed to win in three starts this year, most recently at Royal Ascot when seventh in the Hardwicke Stakes, and faces 13 rivals on her Doncaster return in the Group 2 DFS Park Hill Stakes.
She is well clear on official ratings, but is second-favourite behind the progressive Abingdon, who has won three of her four starts this campaign.
Her rivals include the Hughie Morrison-trained Star Rider, a handicap winner at Glorious Goodwood last time.
“Star Rider has been absolutely fine since Goodwood. We just thought we would take our time and have a go at a Group race,” Morrison said.
“I would obviously prefer if the race was over two and a half miles but there are very few races over two miles or further for fillies.”
Also on Thursday
Kilmah will attempt to follow up her recent Group 3 win at Goodwood in the Group 2 Clugston Construction May Hill Stakes. Chief dangers to Mark Johnston’s filly include Blending and Rich Legacy, who was two-and-a-lengths behind Kilmah at Goodwood.
Richard Fahey is bidding for a third-straight success in the valuable Weatherbys Hamilton £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes, and has two of the 22-strong field.
Marie Of Lyon has performed well in Pattern company on her last two starts, while Scofflaw was down the field in a Goodwood nursery last time out.
The opposition includes Gimcrack fourth Global Applause and Stormy Clouds, winner of similar race at York on her last start.
Conditions at Doncaster were changed to good to soft (from good to soft, soft in places) on Tuesday, by clerk of the course Roderick Duncan, who said: “The forecast is for a dry and warm day today – it should be the warmest day of the week with temperatures of 24C.
“I would therefore expect some movement in the ground today. It didn’t do much yesterday as the weather was cool and overcast. We are expecting the ground to dry out and we hope to start the St Leger festival tomorrow on good ground, perhaps just a bit on the easy side of good.
“The forecast is pretty good all the way through the week. There could now be a chance of rain Friday night into Saturday, which could be helpful. We will just have to keep an eye on how that shapes up.
“We have got the track railed out from the mile-and-a-quarter start up to where the round course meets the straight. That rail will come down after Thursday’s racing to provide fresh ground for the Doncaster Cup on Friday.”