(Published September 8, 2018) – A quality Group 2 event run over a mile on the second day of Doncaster famous four-day St Leger meeting. The May Hill Stakes (sponsored this year by William Hill) is a stern test for fillies only over a distance that requires plenty of stamina for a juvenile.
The event has proven a fine guide to the Group 1 Fillies Mile at Newmarket a month later with a hots of fillies going on to do the double, the most recent being Karl Burke’s subsequent Prix de Diane heroine Laurens 12 months ago.
With 1⃣5⃣ entered in this year's @WilliamHill May Hill Stakes, we look back at last year's thrilling race….
— Doncaster Racecourse (@DoncasterRaces) September 8, 2018
The race has also produced other subsequent Classic winners such as Ben Hanbury’s Midway Lady (1000 Guineas and Oaks), Rafha (French Oaks), and Reams of Verse (Oaks). The late Sir Henry Cecil won the contest a remarkable 12 times between 1978 and 2001.
This looks one of the most open renewals of the May Hill Stakes for many a long year with no outstanding candidate present among the 15 five-day entries for this £70,000 contest. Indeed, there are no pattern race winners in the line-up, leaving us to wonder whether this is a sub-standard renewal, or if there are more than handful of potential serious improvers in the line-up. My gut feeling is that the latter option is the more likely scenario.
Will Beauty Catch The Judge’s Eye?
Saeed Bin Suroor’s Dubai Beauty could do no more than win nicely on her debut at Newmarket last month over seven furlongs, the daughter of the great Frankel staying on powerfully inside the final furlong to defeat Posted by a length-and-a-half. That form has taken a knock with the runner-up finishing last of 8 in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood next time out, so on the face of it, although she clearly has the potential to be very useful, Dubai Beauty appears a surprise ante-post favourite at odds of 7/2 with Paddy Power. She is related to a number of useful horses and could develop into a smart prospect, but on the bare form of her HQ win she appears poor value.
Godolphin’s other entry, the Charlie Appleby-trained Ascot maiden winner Ceratonia, was due to run in a Group 3 event at Longchamp on Sunday so would appear to be a most unlikely runner at Doncaster.
The Irish Challengers
Aidan O’Brien has left two fillies in the race at the latest declaration stage, Fleeting and Peach Tree. Neither look superstars on what we’ve seen so far, but preference would be for Peach Tree (5/1 with 888sport), who won a seven furlong maiden at the Irish Derby meeting at the Curragh in late-June before running a shocker back there in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes two months later. The daughter of Galileo redeemed herself last time out when keeping on well having led from the start to be runner-up to stable companion Just Wonderful in the Group 3 Flame Of Tara Stakes earlier this month.
That’s decent form, but it would be a surprise if it’s good enough to land the spoils on Town Moor. Fleeting (10/1 with Bet365), a daughter of Zoffany, was a further length-and-half back in third in the Flame Of Tara Stakes and there appears no obvious reason why she should reverse the placings.
Jim Bolger won this race three years ago with Turret Rocks, and his Bandiuc Eile (8/1 with bet365) is officially rated only 1lb behind Peach Tree. Although she remains a maiden after four starts this daughter of New Approach has some decent form in the book, finishing runner-up on her second outing to O’Brien’s Zagitova in a maiden at Cork last month, then reversing the placings with the winner when they were second and third respectively in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh won by Skitter Skatter. It is quite likely that Bandiuc Eile hadn’t recovered from that run when turning out again just five days later for the Flame Of Tara Stakes in which she ran below-par in sixth place.
Sand Can Storm To Victory
Two years ago Ralph Beckett (pictured below) won this race with Rich Legacy, and it could be significant that he appears prepared to pitch his once raced Kempton maiden winner Sand Share in here against more experienced opposition. This daughter of Oasis Dream runs in the Juddmonte colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah, and her dam, a listed winner in France, is related to a number of useful horses.
There was plenty to like about the way the well backed winner stayed on to take the lead at Kempton under just hand riding, beating Deira Surprise by three-quarters-of-a-length. The runner-up hardly franked the form next time, but that isn’t Sand Share’s fault and there was a distinct feeling that this filly might be much better than we saw on that winning debut.
In a race where there are any number of possible winners, Beckett’s juvenile looks a sporting each-way bet at current odds of 8/1 with Betfair.
Other Contenders With Claims
Accordance (15/2 with Sky Bet) is one of the few in this race with previous placed form in Pattern race company, having finished second last time out to Ralph Beckett’s Antonia De Vega in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes over seven furlongs at Goodwood last month.
Flying filly Antonia De Vega clicks into gear to retain her unbeaten record in Goodwood's Ladbrokes Prestige Stakes 🚀
— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) August 25, 2018
She had previously won over the same course and distance at the Glorious Goodwood meeting in a maiden and could be open to a little improvement over the extra furlong. Sixth in the Prestige Stakes was The Queen’s Magnetic Charm (8/1 with Betfred), but this daughter of Exceed And Excel looked fairly one paced having been close enough if good enough over two furlong out. It’s hard to see here meeting the required standard on that evidence.
Divinity (12/1 with Coral) gave Blue Gardenia (25/1 with 888sport) 3lb and a length beating when the pair were first and second in a one mile Thirsk novice stakes on August 31. That’s fair form, but once again they would need to improve around a stone to be expected to get in among the principals at the business end of this much better contest and that might well be asking rather too much of the northern trained pair.
— Thirsk Racecourse (@ThirskRaces) August 31, 2018
Andrew Balding’s Dutch Treat is one of the more likely outsiders to run a good race. She was runner-up in listed company at Newbury last month against Boitron, a colt who is unbeaten in three starts and holds entries in the Group 2 Royal Lodge and Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes. It’s fair to assume that the winner that day would be favourite if he were able to run against these horses so Dutch Treat may prove fair each-way value at 12/1 with Paddy Power.
Richard Hannon has left Sweet Pearl (20/1 with Betfred) and Star Term in the race, with the former already having Oisin Murphy down to partner her due to his contract with owners Qatar Racing. She was second to Divinity at Nottingham on debut last month before stepping up to win nicely at Kempton over a mile a fortnight later and appears to be held in some regard by her shrewd handler.
Her stable companion Star Term (10/1 with MansionBet) is on a hattrick mission having won a Newbury maiden (beating Dutch Treat) and a Newmarket nursery, so is clearly going the right way and there could me more to come from this filly.
ADVICE: SAND SHARE (8/1 each-way with Betfair)
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.