Racing: Corridor Creeper favoured by high draw
It can be useful being as daft as a horse. The protagonists for Saturday's 228th St Leger can enjoy the next few days unaware that probably the most demanding few minutes of their lives lies shortly ahead.
It can be useful being as daft as a horse. The protagonists for Saturday's 228th St Leger can enjoy the next few days unaware that probably the most demanding few minutes of their lives lies shortly ahead. There is no such luxury for the contestants of the fillies' equivalent, the Park Hill Stakes, which takes place this afternoon on the opening day of Doncaster's most celebrated meeting.
If anyone had mentioned the Group Two race in conjunction with Astrocharm just two months ago, strange looks would have developed, yet with one mighty bound at Glorious Goodwood Mark Tompkins's filly has graduated into the Pattern league.
Now that she is established in Group company over a distance of ground, Astrocharm must be something of a player today. "She was marvellous when winning at Goodwood. She has just improved all year. She's a tremendous servant to us," Tompkins said yesterday. "Philip [Robinson] rides her and he knows her well. It's a step up in grade again, but there's nowhere to go with these fillies so you've just got to go there and hope for the best.
"If it had been soft I wouldn't have run her. Hopefully, the ground's going to keep drying out and she would have a bit of a chance - she stays and is 100 per cent right. The one thing is that the only time she has run at Doncaster she hated it, so what happened there I don't know. Sometimes horses don't like certain courses. But she'll run well."
The precise nature of Astrocharm's performance is known only to one person, her owner, Mystic Meg. When the mist swirls away it may be that Meg sees another filly just in front of her own.
Echoes In Eternity (next best 3.00) is proven at this level, if not the distance, and is a noticeably invigorated performer at this time of the year. The Godolphin filly has been bashing her head on the lead this season and, with more restraint expected this time, she can outclass her field.
Even Meg might have premonition problems with the Portland Handicap, featuring 22 tightly handicapped creatures belting across Town Moor. A high draw is apparently imperative here, which throws a shadow over one of the form horses in Texas Gold, who will join battle from the very far side and stall No1. "He's in fantastic shape, but everybody up here tells me it's not a good draw," William Muir, the Lambourn trainer, said yesterday. "The horse is crying out to win a big race. We keep getting poor draws but we'll have to live with that. We'll have to be able produce our goods from a poor draw - he's a hold-up horse so what difference does it make? He's in great form. I couldn't have him better." The draw has been much kinder to one of three runners from the Milton Bradley sprinter academy in CORRIDOR CREEPER (nap 2.25), who will emerge from box No19. He was second to Halmahera in this last year and goes into the Portland having compiled an admirable body of work this season.
The big money race, the St Leger Yearling Stakes, can go to a young horse who is really too good to be running in races of this nature. Caesar Beware (1.50) can go on from this to make his name in loftier company.
¿ Fred Winter and Johnny Henderson, two of jump racing's former leading lights, who both died last season, will be commemorated with races named in their honour at next year's Cheltenham Festival. Winter will be remembered by the new Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, while the Festival's penultimate event has been renamed the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup.
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