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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Five key issues for second-day highlight as ladies take centre stage

Dubka (far side), Melodic Motion (red) and Natural Scenery (white cap) finish in the money behind Endless Time at Goodwood
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3.00 Doncaster
DFS Park Hill Stakes l G2 l 1m6½f l ITV4/ATR

The ITV cameras roll into town for day two of the William Hill St Leger meeting on Thursday, when the females take centre stage both on and off the track.

DFS ladies' day on Town Moor is always well supported by the ladies of South Yorkshire and they have a pair of Group 2 races restricted to the fairer sex to enjoy, not to mention the final race of the Silk Series for lady riders.

The most valuable race on the card is the £90,000 Park Hills Stakes, often referred to as the fillies' St Leger as it is run over Saturday's St Leger course, and which has this year attracted a competitive field with much to consider. 

Can Dubka confirm Goodwood form?

The day's staying feature is essentially a rerun of the Group 3 Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood last month in which Dubka chased home Endless Time. Behind Sir Michael Stoute's filly that day were Melodic Motion (third), Natural Scenery (fourth), Wild Irish Rose (fifth) and Harlequeen (ninth), who all oppose again. 

Since then, Dubka did not get the clearest of runs when beaten only five lengths in 11th place in the Ebor but is without a win in nearly a year.

Stoute, who has won the Group 2 contest four times, most recently with Allegretto in 2008, said: "Dubka will like the ground if it stays soft and is a very honest filly. She's stays very well and goes there in good shape."

Simple Verse (far side) gets up late to land last year's race

Simple Verse team out to strike again

The connections of last year's winner Simple Verse look to have another good shout with the progressive Melodic Motion, who heads two runners from the Ralph Beckett stable, the other being the four-year-old Alyssa.

A daughter of Nathaniel, owned by Qatar Racing and ridden by Oisin Murphy, Melodic Motion had her winning spree brought to an end when running into Endless Time and Dubka but that was a fair first effort at Group level.

Beaten just half a length that day, Melodic Motion handled the track okay but Beckett expects an improved showing now the three-year-old is back on more level terrain. He said:"Melodic Motion should be well served by the track and the ground and she goes there with every chance."

Stablemate Alyssa won four times last year but has yet to recapture that form and was recently taken out of a similar engagement at Goodwood due to soft ground. Beckett added: "There is a doubt about the ground for Alyssa but there's nothing else for her at the moment. She's been crying out for this sort of trip."

Can Natural Scenery book Aussie trip in style? 

Former top-all-weather performer Natural Scenery has proved to be equally useful on turf since she returned from a break in July and there is some confidence in Saeed bin Suroor's camp that she can land her biggest success to date.

The daughter of Dubawi finished fourth in the Lillie Langtry before returning to handicap company to post an excellent third in the Ebor at York last month. A win or a good showing could yet put Natural Scenery in the mix for a trip to Australia for the Melbourne Cup in November

Bin Suroor said: “Natural Scenery ran very well at York on her latest start and is in good form. She is ready to go again and this looks to be a nice race before we look at taking her out to Australia.”

Cumani bidding for sixth win with Aljezeera 

Luca Cumani has won this race five times previously, most recently with Silk Sari in 2014, and is back for another crack with Frankel filly Aljezeera, who is one of the few previous course winners in the ten-strong field.

The three-year-old had not shown much both on and off the track before flying home late from off the pace to finish third in the Listed Galtres Stakes at York last time.

Cumani said of the Al Shaqab-owned contender: "Aljezeera should improve for the step up in trip as she was finishing well at York last time. It was good to soft that day and soft is an unknown but she's in good form with herself."

Sweet Selection looking to bounce back

Hughie Morrison is hoping a spell in a paddock can work the oracle for his mare Sweet Selection, who has failed to sparkle since landing the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in May.

The trainer said: "She's had a few weeks off after disappointing at Goodwood and hopefully we can bounce back. I'm not sure about the ground but hopefully it will slow a few of the others down."

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Melodic Motion should be well served by the track and the ground and she goes there with every chance
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