This weekend’s Betfred November Handicap, the last big race of the British Flat season, brings down the curtain on another memorable year on Town Moor.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has been involved in the two most memorable moments at Doncaster in 2017, with Capri’s game victory in the St Leger the first of those. The Irish Derby winner dug in bravely in the hands of Ryan Moore to repel Crystal Ocean and a host of others, including Melbourne Cup hero Rekindling back in fourth.
Capri was one of a world record breaking collection of Group 1 winners for the Ballydoyle team this year, and Doncaster was lucky enough to be the place where O’Brien broke the great American trainer Bobby Frankel’s record when Saxon Warrior won the Racing Post Trophy in October to make it number 26 for the calendar year. Saxon Warrior will be aimed now at the Classics in 2018.
Also at the St Leger festival, Desert Skyline took the Doncaster Cup for champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa, Aclaim won the Park Stakes before going on to win at Chantilly on Arc day in the Prix De La Foret for Martyn Meade and Oisin Murphy. Off Art also won the Leger Legends race for former jump jockey Brian Harding and Tim Easterby.
Doncaster once again has proven its worth as a leading venue for young horses to begin their careers and three horses this year have gone on to shed their maiden tag on Town Moor, before going on to bigger and better things.
Benbatl won very early on in the season at Doncaster for the Godolphin team, before finishing fifth in the Derby and winning at Royal Ascot after that. James Garfield won his maiden at short odds after a great placed effort at Royal Ascot on 13th July for trainer George Scott, and since then, has won the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury and last weekend, travelled over to the Breeders Cup. Finally, Laurens, trained by Karl Burke for eccentric owner John Dance got off the mark on 20th July, before returning to Doncaster to win the Group 2 May Hill Stakes at the St Leger meeting, and then landed a Group 1 success at Newmarket when winning the Fillies Mile, providing both the owner and jockey PJ McDonald with their first Group 1 triumph.
Finally, rewinding back to the start of the season, it was the Lincoln meeting on the 1st and 2nd of April, and Ryan Moore got the season underway with a bang, by landing the first three races with Tupi winning the Cammidge Trophy, Ballet Concerto in the Spring Mile and Kool Kompany winning under a masterful ride in the Doncaster Mile. The Lincoln itself was won by Bravery on first start for David O’Meara under another great ride by Danny Tudhope.
After another stellar season on Town Moor, hopefully, there is one more great story to tell after Saturday’s November Handicap.