Entries are revealed today for the two main supporting races on Ladbrokes St Leger Day, Saturday, September 14, at Doncaster, the £100,000 Group Two OLBG Park Stakes (4.25pm) over seven furlongs for three-year-olds and upwards plus the £75,000 Group Two At The Races Champagne Stakes (2.40pm), also run over seven furlongs and for two-year-old colts and geldings.
The 53 entries (up from 41 in 2012) for the OLBG Park Stakes include the previous two winners of the race in Premio Loco (2011) and Libranno (2012). Libranno is a real seven-furlong specialist, having won four times in Pattern company at the distance. Trained by Richard Hannon, Libranno could be joined by stable companions Producer and Professor, also both seven-furlong winners.
Irelands champion trainer Aidan OBrien is responsible for eight entries, including three-time Australian GroupOne winnerSea Siren, who got off the mark in Europe by taking a Listed race at Fairyhouse on July 14.
One horse definitely being aimed at the OLBG Park Stakes is Dandy Boy, trained in Ireland by David Marnane. The seven-year-old has won four times at seven furlongs, including the ultra-competitive Victoria Cup at Ascot in 2010 and a valuable contest at Meydan, Dubai, in 2011. He is also a Royal Ascot winner, having taken the Wokingham Handicap over six furlongs in 2012.
County Tipperary-based Marnane said today: The Park Stakes is definitely a target for Dandy Boy.
Things didnt work out at the Curragh on his penultimate run and in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last time there was some rain on the morning of the race which didnt suit him as he wants it quick especially in a race of that quality. The ground at Doncaster is usually pretty good which would suit him.
Seven furlongs is his ideal trip. He has won a Wokingham, but most of his wins are over seven furlongs and he does like a straight course. There are not many opportunities over a straight seven furlongs for him, so the Park Stakes is ideal.
He will run at the Curragh in the Group Three Phoenix Stakes on August 11 and then hopefully will go on to Doncaster.
There are a further seven Irish-trained entries including the Tom Hogan-trained Gordon Lord Byron, who enjoyed his finest hour when taking the Group One Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, France, in 2012. Edward Lynam, successful in the 2009 Park Stakes with Duff, has a brace of entries in Slade Power, third in the Group One July Cup at Newmarket last time out, and Viztoria, successful in the seven-furlong Group Three Athasi Stakes at the Curragh in May.
Pearl Flute, from the Francis Graffard stable in France, landed the seven-furlong Group Three Prix Du Palais Royal at Longchamp in June while the second French-trained entry is Wahib from the Mikel Delzangles yard. The Invincible Spirit colt has only raced twice, winning a seven-furlong maiden at Longchamp on July 6.
There are three entries from Kevin Ryan, including 2000 Guineas runner-up Glory Awaits. The North Yorkshire-based handler could also run Lightning Cloud, winner of the seven-furlong Buckingham Palace Handicap at Royal Ascot and Pintura, successful in a competitive seven-furlong handicap at the Galway Festival in 2012.
Roger Varian has entered Aljamaaheer, successful in the Group Two Summer Mile at Ascot this year and Eton Forever, who landed the William Hill Spring Mile at Doncaster in 2011 before scaring twice in Listed company and in 2012 Buckingham Palace Handicap at Royal Ascot in 2012.
The OLBG Park Stakes is run with Group One conditions, meaning there are no penalties for previous Group One or Group Two winners.
Sponsor OLBG, the UKs biggest online sports betting community, is backing the Park Stakes for the second year.
Captains chasing At The Races Champagne
The £75,000 Group Two At The Races Champagne Stakes has attracted 76 entries in 2013. Broadcaster At The Races is sponsoring the Champagne Stakes for the first time in 2013. All races run at the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival and throughout the year at Doncaster are broadcast live on At The Races.
Aidan OBrien, who tasted victory in the prestigious contest with Westphalia in 2008, dominates the entries. The master of Ballydoyle is responsible for 16, headed by unbeaten Group Two Coventry Stakes victor War Command. OBriens entries include a number of impressive maiden winners and regally-bred unraced colts so further stars of the future are likely to be unleashed in the coming weeks.
The 20 Irish-trained entries also include a pair from County Cork-based trainer John Murphy. Captains Affair belied his 33/1 outsider status when making a winning debut at GowranPark over seven furlongs on May 8. The Captain Rio colt was subsequently sold to US-based international racing syndicate Team Valor International and the At The Races Champagne Stakes is a possible target.
Murphy said: Captains Affair is a big horse and he hasnt run since May as a deal was going through with the new owners who were toying with the idea of taking him to America.
The change of ownership to Team Valor happened quite a time after he won at GowranPark and while the deal was going through he couldnt run. He is now ready to go.
The Champagne Stakes is a possible target for him. We entered him in the Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown today but the ground came up too firm so plans are fluid at the moment.
Murphy could also be represented by Battle Hymn, a son of 2007 Derby winner Authorized who is unraced.
He continued: Battle Hymn could run in the next two weeks in a maiden and then we will look ahead to the races like the Futurity Stakes and the Champagne Stakes.
The last two runnings of the At The Races Champagne Stakes have fallen to horses trained by Richard Hannon, with Trumpet Major taking the honours in 2011 and Toronado triumphant last year. The Wiltshire handler also won the 1986 running with subsequent 2000 Guineas scorer Dont Forget Me.
Hannon has a typically strong entry of eight this year, including Group Two July Stakes winner Anjaal, Listed Chesham Stakes runner-up Bunker and Washaar, who finished third in the Group Two Superlative Stakes at Newmarket.
Trainer Paul Cole recently stated that Listed Chesham Stakes winner Berkshire is likely to head straight to the At The Races Champagne Stakes following his Royal Ascot success.
Sir Henry Cecil won the At The Races Champagne Stakes four times and his widow Lady Cecil has four entries. The quartet are all unraced and include the Niarchos Familys home-bred Meteoroid, who is out of Group Two winner Enthused.
Another trainer with a fine At The Races Champagne Stakes record was BarryHills, who sent out five winners between 1977 and 2004. His son Charlie has two entries, Cable Bay, a Leicester maiden winner and Tanzeel, who made a promising debut when runner-up at Ascot on July 12.