We are extremely proud to be sponsoring the Weatherbys Scientific £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes at Doncaster on the opening day of their St Leger meeting. This is the 16th year Weatherbys has supported the race, and the third year that Weatherbys Scientific has sponsored this top-class juvenile contest. We witnessed a thrilling contest in 2022 with Cold Case landing the prize for Karl Burke, and we look set to be treated to another cracking renewal with an extremely strong field of 18 runners.
Andrew Balding has landed two of the past four renewals of the contest and sends three in search of a third success in five years here. Perhaps the most interesting of the trio is the Inns Of Court filly Imperial Express. Bought for 175,000gns as a yearling, the most expensive to go through the sales ring for the sire, she is a half-sister to Group 1-winning two-year-old Ebro River. She built on her debut outing to finish third at Newmarket last month, and the fourth has won since. Oisin Murphy was on board for both of the trainer’s wins but interestingly takes the ride aboard Soldier’s Gold for Hugo Palmer here. The Soldier’s Call colt landed an Ascot nursery in fine style from a mark of 80 back in July and ran with credit in a big-field nursery at the Ebor Meeting from a 13lb higher mark when last seen.
Balding landed the prize in 2021 with El Kabeir colt, Harrow, and it is another son of El Kabeir that heads the market. Clive Cox’s Dragon Leader is unbeaten in three starts and could not have been more impressive when landing another valuable sales race at the York Ebor Festival last time. He made all up the centre under Ryan Moore, powering clear in devastating fashion in the final furlong to win by over four lengths.
William Buick takes the ride on Dragon Leader, and he must have a massive chance from a lowly weight of just 8-8 as he bids for a fourth consecutive victory.
Duty calls for Ryan Moore however, who instead takes the ride aboard Ballydoyle’s Johannes Brahms. A son of Siyouni, he is allocated the top-weight of 9-4 in this contest but does have the highest official rating in the field at 106. Aidan O’Brien’s two-year-old finished second to Big Evs, since the winner of the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes, in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot before again filling the runner-up spot stepped into Group 2 company in the Gimcrack Stakes. Already proven to be a Group-level juvenile, he clearly holds plenty of ability and deserves his place at the top of the market.
Hugo Palmer’s Balon D’Or is another who must carry top-weight in the contest, and he has been highly tried this season with seven runs under his belt already. The son of Kodiac finished second in the Woodcote at Epsom back in June, over a length in front of subsequent Group 2 winner Haatem in third. His form has taken a drop since, with consecutive midfield finishes in nursery races the last twice, but he is more experienced than many in the field. On the other end of the weights is the Amo Racing-owned filly, Komat, who will have to carry just 8-6. Dominic Ffrench-Davis’ filly is a daughter of Cable Bay, who sired 2019 winner King’s Lynn. She ran a stormer at Royal Ascot to finish sixth in the Group 3 Albany Stakes, and the form of that race has worked out extremely well since. She was last seen finishing fifth in the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes and looks sure to appreciate a strong pace to aim at here. George Boughey has enlisted the services of Billy Loughnane for the ride on Lambert. The Due Diligence gelding has won his last three in mightily impressive style and, although this looks tougher, he looks the type to keep improving.
Kevin Ryan has a great record in this contest, with two winners, a second and a third in the last decade, which makes Room Service an interesting contender. The son of Kodi Bear was an eye-catcher in the Two-Year-Old Trophy at Beverley back in June and returned from a short break to finish third in a competitive nursery at York last time. The second has since gone on to land the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes and Room Service should be in the mix if building on that effort here.
It looks set to be a fantastic race and we would like to wish good luck to all connections.