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With the most compelling Ashes series in living memory reaching its finale there will be those who mutter under their breath when Channel Four switches to the racing this weekend. Tune to Radio Four long-wave and watch some top class racing from either side of the Irish Sea while still keeping tabs on the Oval.
Doncaster stages the Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes, the oldest classic in the calendar. Though there is no established star in the field, the lightly-raced Scorpion looks destined for the top. This son of new super-sire Montjeu announced himself a horse full of potential by winning the group one Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris accounting for a field including group three winner Desideratum in fetching style on only his fifth start.
Scorpion had the rest of the field struggling from a long way out. He then did what only the very best horses can do, quickened from an already good pace. Second in the market Hard Top won the best trial for this race the Great Voltigeur. But the horse has only run three times. That lack of experience must count against him. Sir Michael Stoute may have to wait another year to win his first St Leger, the only classic to elude him.
The softening ground at Donny will certainly suit The Geezer, second in the Voltigeur, and he is fancied to reverse places with Hard Top. Whether he has the quality to account for Scorpion is a bigger doubt. Though Scorpion has not experienced soft ground it should be remembered that his sire won the Arc on heavy going.
The cast for the Baileys Irish Champion Stakes is a roll-call of equine superstars: including English Derby winner Motivator, Oratorio his Coral-Eclipse nemesis and four-time group one winner Azamour. Azamour is odds-on to add to that tally but is perhaps worth taking on. He has never won a big race on ground softer than good.
In contrast, Motivator, has never lost on good to soft. The Derby form has taken some knocks, but doubters should replay the video of the race. Motivator won in it in breathtaking style and granted his optimum conditions can confirm his brilliance.
3:25 Doncaster: Scorpion (win)
3:55 Leopardstown: Motivator (win)