Punting pointers as Michael Dods has two live tickets in bid to hit jackpot
William Hill Portland Handicap | 5½f | ITV/ATR
Neither Silvestre de Sousa nor Michael Dods have won the traditional St Leger day curtain-raiser but the pair are in pole position now with Holmeswood, one of two well-fancied runners for the Durham trainer.
Holmeswood, who is joined by stablemate Dakota Gold in the 22-runner charge, was an eyecatching third to El Astronaute over a similar trip at York last month and that form received a timely boost when the winner was just denied in the Listed Scarbrough Stakes on Town Moor on Wednesday.
Dakota Gold was runner-up in the Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon before a strong-finishing third to the reopposing Muscika at Thirsk, and Dods said: "They've both got nice chances and I just hope the ground doesn't dry out too much. Holmeswood didn't get a clear run at York and has an obvious chance with the winner running so well on Wednesday. Dakota Gold should relish the trip."
Is middle of the road a winning route?
The famous pink and green colours of Khalid Abdullah get a rare outing in the dash aboard Encrypted, who won a valuable handicap at York in June.
The son of Showcasing has since disappointed twice before returning to winning ways at Chelmsford last month and has plenty of options as he is drawn bang in the middle in stall 11.
Trainer Hugo Palmer said: "This is a much tougher race but he won with a bit in hand last time and the drying ground will help. The drop in trip from six to five and a half furlongs shouldn't bother him and hopefully he can be in the mix."
Udontdodou 'in form of his life'
Udontdodou had just his second start on turf in more than a year when winning at Windsor last time and trainer Richard Guest reckons he has his stable star at his peak.
The five-year-old has won four of his ten starts on the all-weather and is rated 8lb higher on artificial surfaces than on the turf.
Guest said: "The reason he runs so much on the all-weather is he doesn't like undulations but Doncaster is pretty flat so we're hopeful. He's in the form of his life at home and if he breaks well from stall 14 he should have a massive shot."
Can Hills enjoy another big Moment?
Charlie Hills won this with 16-1 chance Angels With Fall in 2013 and tries again with A Momentofmadness, who finished a respectable sixth a year ago.
The trainer said: "The intention was always to give him a bit of a break after his last run and he’s nice and fresh. He’s been good as gold since Goodwood but he wouldn’t want it too soft.
What the others say
Clive Cox, trainer of Tis Marvellous
He showed his old sparkle when winning at the Shergar Cup and he really enjoys five and a half furlongs, which is a specialist trip.
Iain Jardine, trainer of Marnie James
We took him out of a Doncaster race on Wednesday as the ground was too soft, so the drying surface should be better. We've got a decent claimer in Marc Monaghan on board and as he's drawn in the middle he has options.
Paul Midgley, trainer of Orvar
We've had this race in mind since he won at the track last month, although the extra half-furlong is a bit of a concern. If he gets it he should run a big race.
David Griffiths, trainer of Duke Of Firenze
He's a massive price on his fourth in the Prix de l'Abbaye last year and we've ironed out some issues. The race should suit him as they go flat out and he likes to come with a late effort.
Robert Cowell, trainer of Blue De Vega
He’s thriving on his racing and both the trip and the ground won’t bother him at all.
Amanda Perrett, trainer of Open Wide
He ran a nice race when second at Ascot last time when he just bumped into one. Andrea Atzeni gets on well with him and with the drying ground in his favour we're very much looking forward to it.
Nigel Tinkler, trainer of Roundhay Park
He's quite highly rated and it's difficult to know how his draw in stall seven will pan out, but he goes there with a good each-way chance.
Richard Fahey, trainer of Powerallied
He's been pretty consistent all season and sneaks in here on bottom weight. He's probably as high as he wants to be in the ratings but the trip and the ground should be ideal.
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