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  • Youth Reigns in the 2024 Doncaster Mile! Who’ll seize the coveted victory among the 3YOs?! – with Chris Scholtz

Youth Reigns in the 2024 Doncaster Mile! Who’ll seize the coveted victory among the 3YOs?! – with Chris Scholtz

05 April, 2024

CHRIS dissects the 2024 Doncaster Mile and looks to history as the key to this year’s winner.


AGE: History says you must be with all the 3YOs in any Doncaster field – it’s their race! Top class 3YOs invariably target the Doncaster, a trend that took off in the 1980s when astute trainers exploited the advantage the age group held in comparison to the weight-for-age scale.

Factoring in their scope for improvement at a time of the season when they are reaching full maturity has been a constant recipe for 3YO success – some 32 three-year-olds have won the Doncaster including eight since 2000 – that’s a strike rate of one every three years (33 percent) over the last two and a bit decades! It’s a 3YO strike rate unequalled in open age G1 races in Australia.


VERDICT: There are three top class 3YOs in this year’s Doncaster with super credentials – dual G1 winner (4) MILITARIZE; Randwick Guineas winner (19) CELESTIAL LEGEND; and Australian Guineas winner (20) SOUTHPORT TYCOON. They rate in the top five but MILITARIZE has paid the penalty for his G1 wins last season and has to concede 5kg to his fellow 3YOs – that’s too much against a pair boasting huge ratings of their last start Guineas wins.


SEX: Fillies and mares have won the Doncaster 34 times and include some of the best of the modern era e.g. WINX, SUNLINE, MORE JOYOUS etc. The last mare to win the Doncaster was NETTOYER in 2020 while a 3YO filly hasn’t been successful since SUNLINE in 1999.

The older females are well represented by Coolmore Classic winner (5) ZOUGOTCHA; the very fit (12) LADY LAGUNA; Coolmore runner-up (17) SEMANA; and emergencies (22) HINGED and (24) PALMETTO. No 3YO fillies are contesting this year’s Doncaster. No mare has completed the Coolmore-Doncaster double in the same year since SUNLINE (2002). LADY LAGUNA has improved with every start this year and is dropping 6kg from her G1 George Ryder Stakes second against the males. She is in receipt of 2kg from ZOUGOTCHA. SEMANA finished second in the Coolmore Classic and meets ZOUGOTCHA 2kg better.


VERDICTClearly LADY LAGUNA has the stronger form and is favourably weighted, giving her every opportunity to maintain her rich run of form despite tackling 1600m for the first time.


WEIGHT/FORM: It’s a challenge to win the Doncaster Mile under the topweight but it’s not impossible. Since the switch to metrics in 1973 seven Doncaster winners have carried 57kg or more, the record of 59.5kg set by Super Impose in his second win in 1991.

In the 50 years before metrics 11 winners carried 9 stone (57kg) or more including 10.4 (65.5kg) by Chatham in 1934 that equalled Marvel’s feat under the same weight in 1892.

Everest winner (1) THINK ABOUT IT is not severely treated with the topweight of 57kg on a 49kg limit but he is an unknown quantity over 1600m. Japanese raider (2) OBAMBURAMAI is down 1.5kg from his winning weight of 56.5kg in the Golden Eagle in the spring but the placegetters from that race (3) PERICLES and (6) GOLDEN MILE meet him on 1.5kg and 2.5kg better terms. Note no horse representing a northern hemisphere stable has won a Doncaster.

A popular key is to look for the horses with a significant drop in weight from a prominent performance at weight-for-age, especially in the G1 George Ryder Stakes. WINX was the last of seven horses to complete the George Ryder-Doncaster double in the same year while 14 of the last 28 Doncaster winners have come through the Rosehill WFA event as their final lead-up.

George Ryder winner VEIGHT (second to SOUTHPORT TYCOON in the Australian Guineas at his prior start) is not running, leaving the runner-up LADY LAGUNA with her 6kg drop the obvious weight horse from that race this year. GOLDEN MILE (4th; -5.5kg); PERICLES (7th; -4.5kg) and (15) LOCH EAGLE (15th; -8kg) are other George Ryder runners getting notable weight relief.

Last Saturday’s Doncaster Prelude winner (18) ANOTHER WIL is freely labelled the “weight horse” in this year’s Doncaster with 50kg as he could not be re-handicapped for his impressive victory under 53kg when he took his record to five wins from his first seven starts. He’s the big up and comer in this year’s field but no horses has backed up from the Prelude to win the Doncaster since it took the place of the Ajax Stakes in 2010 as the final prep race.

The Ajax Stakes was moved to an earlier date in 2010 but remains a worthy Doncaster guide as the winner is also exempt from a penalty. The Ajax/Doncaster double has been was won four times, the last being IT’S SOMEWHAT in 2017. This year’s winner (13) DEMOCRACY MANIFEST is dropping 5kg in weight to 51kg with no penalty while third horse (8) DETONATOR JACK is down 5.5kg to 52.5kg.


(16) LINDERMANN, a big winner of his final lead up under 58kg in the G3 Sky High Stakes over 1900m at Rosehill, is coming back in distance but the form stands up as he beat the subsequent G1 winner KALAPOUR by four lengths. Four Doncaster winners since 2013 have come back in distance from their final prep race and LINDERMANN – a Rosehill Guineas winner – dropping 7.5kg to only 50.5kg is weighted to improve on his 17th in last year’s Doncaster as a 3YO.

He is joined by (21) NUGGET (3rd), ZOUGOTCHA (9th) and GOLDEN MILE (20th) as the four horses getting a second chance after contesting last year’s Doncaster.

The Epsom Handicap – the spring equivalent of the Doncaster over the Randwick mile – is often a worthy form reference but last year’s edition won by REDEINER lacked the depth as this classy Doncaster field. The Doncaster runners who contested the Epsom last spring under similar weights are (7) KOVALICA (2nd); GOLDEN MILE (3rd), DEMOCRACY MANIFEST (5th) and NUGGET (10th).

Apart from SOUTHPORT TYCOON’S Australian Guineas win there is little worthy Melbourne form among this year’s Doncaster runners with the exception of the first emergency (21) NUGGET. The import finished third on a heavy track in the Doncaster last year carrying 51.5kg and stays on the same weight. He has gone 12 months without a win but has scope to improve dropping 8.5kg from his last start third in a G3 at Caulfield when second up.


VERDICT: It’s easy to see how well treated the Guineas winners CELESTIAL LEGEND and SOUTHPORT TYCOON are with 49kg, being the only horses on the limit with massive relief of 7.5kg and 8kg from their respective G1 wins at Randwick and Flemington. LADY LAGUNA is the ratings horse from the George Ryder despite her first go at 1600m while last start winners ANOTHER WIL and DEMOCRACY MANIFEST getting into the Doncaster without penalties and less weight obviously rate well.


WET TRACK: The weather forecast is the key factor heading into this year’s Doncaster with the track certain to be seriously wet if the expected deluge eventuates through Friday.

Most top class horses don’t get to that level without displaying the ability to cope with affected tracks. It’s just that some cope with serious wet conditions better than others.

In no particular order the best performed wet trackers on genuine heavy tracks in this year’s Doncaster field are PERICLES; ZOUGOTCHA; RUSTIC STEEL; LADY LAGUNA; DEMOCRACY MANIFEST; LOCH EAGLE; SEMANA; HINGED; NAVAJO PEAK and PALMETTO


BARRIERS: A wide barrier is no great disadvantage in the Doncaster Mile. The 1600m start at Randwick is one of the fairest in Australia with the field granted a straight run of 600 metres to the first turn at the 1000m.

In big fields like the Doncaster many horses start their runs before the final turn at the 400m with those getting to the outside avoiding traffic problems often encountered by those staying closer the inside rail.

Coming from a wide gate is supported by the statistics as the most successful Doncaster barriers since 1996 have been gates 12 and 16 with three wins each. 12 of the last 20 winners started from gates 10-20.


VERDICT: With the prospect of a seriously affected track and the rail in the true position inside gates may be a disadvantage by the time we get to the Doncaster, being race eight on the long program.


TRAINERS: Gai Waterhouse shares the Doncaster training record of seven wins with her father Tommy Smith but she is without a runner this year.

Chris Waller has won the race six times in the last 15 years including an historic first four in 2013 and with six final acceptors certainly has the team to add to his record. Ciaron Maher is yet to win a Doncaster but he also holds a big hand with six acceptors.

Other previous Doncaster winners with starters this year are Les Bridge, James Cummings and Joe Pride.


JOCKEYS: Now retired Glen Boss is the Doncaster record holder with seven wins.

Past winners with mounts this year are three time winner Zac Purton, Tim Clark, Tommy Berry, Craig Williams, Jamie Kah and Blake Shinn.


DONCASTER SUMMARY: With so many factors in their favour it’s hard to split the classy three-year-olds (19) CELESTIAL LEGEND and (20) SOUTHPORT TYCOON, their 5kg advantage over fellow 3YO (4) MILITARIZE underlining how well off they are carrying only 49kg. (18) ANOTHER WIL is an impressive young star with it all ahead of him and he won’t get into a G1 race like this with such a light weight again. They all have the right credentials for a wet track as does (16) LINDERMANN who has hit his peak at the right time with a big win over a subsequent G1 winner form that is hard to ignore. (4) MILITARIZE, (12) LADY LAGUNA and (13) DEMOCRACY MANIFEST make up my number for extended exotics. I will include (21) NUGGET if he secures a start.


TOP EIGHT – (19) CELESTIAL LEGEND; (20) Southern Tycoon; (18) Another Wil; (16) Lindermann; (4) Militarize; (12) Lady Laguna; (13) Democracy Manifest; (21) Nugget

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