DFS Park Hill Stakes (Group 2) | 1m6½f | 3yo+ | ITV4/ATR
Roger Varian won the St Leger four years ago with Kingston Hill and, while he has nothing for the the world's oldest Classic this year, the Newmarket handler has high hopes of landing the DFS Park Hill Stakes over the same course and distance 48 hours earlier with Pilaster.
Indeed, he has hopes beyond this Group 2 level for the progressive three-year-old who is unbeaten in three runs this season, and who proved herself over the trip when landing last month's Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood.
Pilaster winning the Lilly Langtry Stakes at Goodwood, photo Liesl King
"We've certainly not seen the best of this filly yet," he said. "She's in very good form at home and ready to roll again, although her main target is the Group 1 Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot. I think she can prove herself at top level.
"Pilaster has progressed well this year and she trained really pleasingly into this race."
Pilaster short-headed St Leger hope Maid Up last time out and is thought likely to do even better at Doncaster.
"Given her inexperience, particularly on turf, I thought she showed a commendable attitude at Goodwood and this track on easier ground will most likely suit her more," Varian said. "I'm very much looking forward to running her."
Maid Up's trainer Andrew Balding takes on Pilaster again with Horseplay, who steps up in trip after winning the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock in July before finishing fourth behind Arc hope Sea Of Class in the Yorkshire equivalent last time out.
"She's got very solid form and she ran well at York last time," Balding said. "She's got a Group 2 penalty but the extra distance may well suit her and she seems in good nick."
Lillie Langtry fifth Isabel De Urbina needs to turn the form around with Pilaster, but is tried in cheekpieces as she bids to give Ralph Beckett his third straight Park Hill victory.
"We're putting cheekpieces on her for the first time, which we hope will sharpen her up, and we expect her to be suited by the galloping nature of the track," the trainer said.
In contrast, this is one of the few British pattern races to have eluded Aidan O'Brien, who attempts to put that right with Group 3 winners Sizzling, partnered by Ryan Moore, and Flattering, the mount of Wayne Lordan.
"Sizzling has won her last two and has shown that she stays well. She'll like the trip and the ground. Flattering is also in good form and should stay," the trainer said.