May Hill Stakes Betting

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One of the youngest races held at the four-day St. Leger Festival each September is the £80,000 May Hill Stakes. This Group 2 event is conducted on Day Three, known as Doncaster Cup Day, in concert with two other Group 2 races—the £100,000 DFS Doncaster Cup and the £80,000 Flying Childers Stakes

The May Hill Stakes was inaugurated for two-year-old Thoroughbred fillies in 1976. It covers a distance of exactly one mile on the straight turf of the Doncaster Racecourse. Each entrant carries eight stone twelve pounds, with penalties of three pounds applied for previous winners of Group 1 or Group 2 races.

The May Hill Stakes got its name from a filly that won Doncaster’s Park Hill Stakes in 1975. From its inception, the race was conducted as a Group 3 event. Prior to 1990, EBF was the sponsor, and then a decade passed without a primary backer. Starting in 1999, Rothmans Royals took up the role for four seasons.

When Group 2 status was gained in 2003, a parade of one-year sponsorships followed, including betdaq, betfair.com, Murphy’s Fastflow, Keepmoat, Frenchgate First For Fashion and Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield. Finally in 2009, a more permanent sponsor came on board, and DFS (Direct Furnishing Supplies) have been associated with the event ever since.

Although fillies have just one opportunity to prove themselves in the May Hill Stakes, many have gone on to confirm their credentials in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Ascot. Such was the case with Playful Act in 2004 and also Rainbow View, the 2008 winner of both races.

Among jockeys, one rider has triumphed here on four occasions. That’s Willie Carson, who guided Tartan Pimpernel to victory in 1977, and then raced to the finish post first on The Dancer in 1979, Satinette in 1983 and Majmu in 1990. Pat Eddery managed three wins between 1991 and 1996, but currently the man to beat is Frankie Dettori. His own three victories came on Calando in 1998, Teggiano in 1999 and White Moonstone in 2010; he narrowly missed getting one more by a half length while riding 10/1 runner-up Kotsi in 2007.

When it comes to trainers for the May Hill Stakes, a single name claims win, place and show. That’s Henry Cecil, who brought an entire dozen winners to Doncaster for this race between 1978 and 2001.

He started with Formulate and finished up with Half Glance. Among the others were Bright Crocus in 1982, Ever Genial in 1984, and then four consecutive winners—Laluche in 1986, Intimate Guest in 1987, Tessla in 1988 and Rafha in 1989. Then came Midnight Air in 1991, followed by three more in a row: Solar Crystal in 1995, Reams of Verse in 1996 and Midnight Line in 1997. In the most recent decade, the trainer/jockey combination of John Gosden/Jimmy Fortune has fared well in the May Hill Stakes, winning with Playful Act and Rainbow View. Richard Hannon schooled a pair of contemporary winners, too: Nasheej in 2005 and Pollenator in 2009, with the latter paying a lovely 14/1.

However, winning at long odds is not the norm here; no other filly has paid better than 9/1 in the past decade. Favourites tend to do well, such as White Moonstone finishing at 5/6, Rainbow View paying 1/3, Spacious winning in 2007 at 9/4, and Karasta in 2000 paying 5/4. The right choices for the Perfecta or Trifecta are likely to yield the highest return for the least risk.

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