Although arguably not as valuable as it should be in terms of prize money, the much-loved Portland Handicap on St. Leger Day is one of the most popular betting races of the season.
The unique 5½-furlong distance is one of the reasons it poses problems for punters, as well as the fact that a full field of 22 will be taking part spread right across the track.
We’ve whittled this year’s field down to the following six horses, all of which have a fine chance of victory on the book.
A fascinating contender for Mick Appleby. A four-year-old sprinter that naturally has more improvement to come, Boundless Power was a purchase from Ireland in the spring where he’d run well enough as a three-year-old for John James Feane.
Having been gelded on arrival in England, the son of Slade Power has begun to reach new levels. With two soft ground wins to his name many may think the very quick conditions at Doncaster this week won’t suit him but he has plenty of form on firmer ground, especially last time at Windsor.
There over five furlongs, Boundless Power was outpaced initially before coming into the race extremely well, being repeatedly blocked in his run and eventually being denied victory by a length.
He’d have won that day we feel, he’s off the same mark here, has no doubt improved again since and should love being given a tow into the race by the likely very fast pace.
This is the ante-post favourite and on paper it’s easy to see why. Hurricane Ivor is trained by William Haggas, ridden by Tom Marquand and comes into this event on the back of a good third when short of room in behind Copper Knight in a similar event at York.
He remains on the same mark which is encouraging and he’s only a young horse, but in three of his five runs this season he’s reached a broadly similar level meaning he may not be on as sharp an upward curve as many believe.
We’ve said it before and we’re happy to once again; horses in big sprint races trained by Michael Dods must always be taken very seriously indeed.
In the case of Jawwaal, Dods has a six-year-old sprinting workhorse with 30 runs under his belt including six wins.
Despite his age, he is just about in the form of his life right now, won here at Doncaster recently over five and has since finished a close fourth behind both Copper Knight at York and Mondammej at Haydock. Solid chance.
Despite having begun to develop an unfortunate reputation for “never winning”, Mondammej has actually got his head in front three times from 15 races including last time out at Haydock Park.
Despite his lowish mileage and young age (4), Antony Brittain’s runner is another horse in this line-up who shows great consistency but not necessarily sharp improvement, therefore having gone up a few pounds more in the handicap for his latest win he is very much respected but just about passed over for the win this time.
Stone Of Destiny
Representing the crack team of King Power, Andrew Balding and Silvestre de Sousa is last year’s Portland winner Stone Of Destiny.
In 2020 he took this race as a five-year-old, one who was in form and improving at the time. He’s been very consistent this year if arguably just too high in the handicap, though he’s now gone down from a high of 105 to a mark of 100 which gives him a chance based on his close fifth behind Mondammej in that crucial race at Haydock last week.
Roger Teal took this race in 2019 with a sharply improving young sprinter, a certain Oxted in fact, and now he has William Buick booked for another in the shape of Whenthedealisdone.
There’s no doubt this is an improving three-year-old and one who may yet prove to be very well handicapped. He won a maiden at Newbury last year, a race at Windsor after being gelded this year and reached a peak when scoring at Goodwood in July.
He can be just a little in and out in fairness, and given that the softer ground suited him well at Goodwood we’d be taking a slight chance here in banking on him to give his very best in quick conditions.
There are plenty in with chances then. If handling the ground, young horse Whenthedealisdone has a huge chance but there’s even more to like about BOUNDLESS POWER he gets the nod to land the spoils.