A total 107 entries have been received for the £75,000 One Call Insurance Champagne Stakes, the very prestigious Group Two contest for two-year-old colts and geldings run on the final day of the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival, Saturday, 15 September.
The entries for the seven-furlong race include David Simcock’s Birdman, who was beaten a head by Olympic Glory in the Group Two 32Red.com Superlative Stakes on his most recent start at Newmarket on 13 July.
Prior to that, the son of Danehill Dancer had won by two and a half lengths at Brighton on 1 June, before an eye-catching success in novice event at Chepstow on 15 June, that saw him win going away by three and a quarter lengths.
David Simcock, who trains at Trillium Place in Newmarket, said: “The One Call Insurance Champagne Stakes fits very nicely into Birdman’s schedule and we will probably go to Glorious Goodwood for the Vintage Stakes and then on to Doncaster.
“He has been in good form since his run at Newmarket. He is very straightforward and considering the race was a bit of slog, I couldn’t be happier with him.
“He got his run checked at the wrong time at Newmarket – just before the two mark – and then had to pull and come round, but the further he went the better he went. We will be racing on different ground at Goodwood next week, but I don’t think that will be a problem to him.
“I think the form stacks up very well as the winner confirmed the form with the fourth horse (Artigiano), who was fifth in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, so the form looks solid.
“He hasn’t surprised us with his progress. We kept him low-key early on, but he has always shown plenty of ability and has always been a little bit green which is why we avoided Royal Ascot because mentally we didn’t think he was ready. As he has raced, he has improved.
“I think the fact he handles very fast ground and very soft ground is an added bonus.
“I think everybody hopes horses like him make nice three-year-olds, but you never know and reserve judgement until the time.
“He will get a mile this year.”
Other notable entries for the two-year-old contest include Mars, who is one of 28 entries for trainer Aidan O’Brien after winning by five lengths on his racecourse debut at Dundalk on 16 July. He could be joined by stablemates Cristoforo Columbo, who finished third in the Group Two Coventry Stakes, and promising maiden victors Nevisand The United States.
David Wachman, who also trains in Ireland, could saddle Group Three winnerProbably, while the home challenge may include John Gosden’s striking Newmarket scorer Ghurair and Azrur, who triumphed over the course and distance for Michael Bell on 30 June.
Richard Hannon won last year’s renewal with Trumpet Major and has six entries including Olympic Glory and the highly regarded Toronado, who bolstered his reputation with a taking display in the Listed Winkfield Stakes at Ascot on 21 July.
PENITENT COULD AIM FOR ANOTHER TOWN MOOR SUCCESS IN OLBG PARK STAKES
Penitent is among 41 entries for the £100,000 Group Two OLBG Park Stakes, run at Doncaster over seven furlongs on the final day of the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival, Saturday, 15 September, 2012.
The six-year-old moved from William Haggas’ yard to David O’Meara after he was sold to Middleham Park Racing and has made great strides this season. He immediately rewarded connections when making a winning return to action in the Listed Doncaster Mile in early April, and added the Group Two Sandown Mile to his CV on 27 April.
On his latest start at Longchamp on 27 May, he finished last of the eight runners in the Group One Prix d’Ispahan.
O’Meara, based at Arthington Barn Stables in Nawton, North Yorkshire, said: “Penitent is going to run in the Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown (August 16) and then it’s possible he could go on to the OLBG Park Stakes after that.
“He has had a little break after his run in France just to freshen him up.
“It was firm ground at Longhchamp. We went over there for soft ground and we declared him on soft to heavy ground, but by the time we got there, it had dried out to fast ground which wasn’t really his thing. Soft ground is crucial to him.
“We were very pleased with his progress before that and he is two from two for us in this country which is great. He surprised us a bit that he was able to win at Group Two level at Sandown.
“Dropping back to seven furlongs could be a negative as it will be his first run at the trip for a long time, but looking at his form, every time he steps beyond a mile he gets beaten.
“We thought that it would be worth experimenting below a mile. The horse has a good record at Doncaster and hopefully we will get a bit of rain and he can run there.”
Other leading entries for the OLBG Park Stakes include Group One winning milerExcelebration,who is one of nine possibles for Aidan O’Brien, including Europe’s leading sprinter in 2010 Starspangledbanner, who is back in training after fertility problems at stud.
The Group Two OLBG Park Stakes is run with Group One conditions, meaning there are no penalties for previous Group Two or Group One winners.
Alan McCabe has entered Caspar Netscher, who triumphed in the German 2,000 Guineas in May, while Bryan Smart could be represented by Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up Foxtrot Romeo.
Richard Hannon has entered the highly-touted Harbour Watch, who hasn’t raced yet as a three-year-old, but created a big impression when winning the Group Two Richmond Stakes at Goodwood last August. Hannon could also saddle multiple Group winners Strong Suit and Libranno.
Other notable entries include Roger Varian’s Group Three Jersey Stakes thirdAljamaaheer, Sir Henry Cecil’s seven-furlong specialist Chachamaidee and John Oxx’s lightly-raced Akeed Wafi.
The Ladbrokes St Leger Festival at Doncaster runs from Wednesday, 12 September through to Saturday, 15 September. For more information go to www.doncaster-racecourse.co.uk