Trainer James Fanshawe feels Seal Of Approval is approaching her peak for the year ahead of today’s DFS Park Hill Stakes on day two of Doncaster’s St Leger festival.
The daughter of 2007 Epsom Derby hero Authorized suffered a heavy fall in the Group Two contest 12 months ago, but showed her confidence remained intact with a career-defining Group One victory on Champions Day at Ascot.
Seal Of Approval made a pleasing start to her 2014 campaign, when fourth in the Yorkshire Cup, and though she ran the most disappointing race of her career in the Lancashire Oaks, she got her season back on track when third in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.
Fanshawe said: “She is a different horse with some cut in the ground. It’s taken some time for her to come to herself this year. She disappointed at Haydock, but ran much better at Newbury last time and I feel she’s come out that race really well.
“Her real target is to defend her crown in the Qipco Fillies And Mares Stakes at Ascot on October 18.”
Aidan and Joseph O’Brien are represented by Venus De Milo, who was placed in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh and the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, but needs to bounce back from a listless display in the Yorkshire Oaks.
Venus De Milo is set to be joined on the trip from Ireland by the Tony Martin-trained Dark Crusader, the mount of Fran Berry.
Newmarket handicap winner Melrose Abbey has plenty to do on official ratings, but trainer Ralph Beckett feels she deserves her chance at this level.
He said: “Melrose Abbey is in good form. We were glad of the rain that came on Saturday and she shapes like she will get this trip, so I am looking forward to running her.
“A number of things have persuaded me to run her but, more than anything, I think she has improved. Her win at Newmarket was everything I hoped it would be and her work suggests she is worthy of this step up in grade.”
Skipton-born William Haggas saddles Arabian Comet, who since winning a handicap at Ascot in early July has run two storming races in defeat in stakes company at Goodwood and York, beaten half-a-length and a nose respectively.
Haggas said: “She’s up in grade again and it’s a tough race with some class horses in the field, but she is definitely going the right way. She doesn’t seem to be too fussed about the ground. That’s one of the great things about her. We’re very much looking forward to running.”