Darnation carrying hopes of another high-level victory for Burke

Darnation bids to provide trainer Karl Burke with yet another big-race success in the juvenile division in Thursday’s Betfred May Hill Stakes at Doncaster.

The Spigot Lodge handler has saddled more than 40 two-year-old winners in 2023, the most notable of which came in Ireland last weekend as Fallen Angel rocketed to the head of ante-post lists for next year’s 1000 Guineas with victory in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.

That was Burke’s first at Group One level since landing the Prix Rothschild four years ago with star filly Laurens, who actually registered her first win at Pattern level in the May Hill in 2017.


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Burke feels that while Darnation perhaps lacks the class of Fallen Angel, she has plenty in her favour on Town Moor as she looks to add to her previous wins in novice company at Thirsk and in the Group Three Prestige Stakes at Goodwood three weeks ago.

He said: “The trip, the track, the ground and everything will suit. She’s not a flashy work horse at home, but she seems very well and any rain I would imagine will be to her advantage – it certainly won’t be a disadvantage to her.

“She was very tough down at Goodwood and she put up a very good performance to break her maiden at Thirsk. That form was franked to a degree, with the second horse (Nighteyes) that she beat 10 lengths coming out and winning next time.

“I can’t hand on heart say she’s in the league of Fallen Angel, but she’s obviously a talented filly and she goes there as the top-rated horse in the race, so it’s very exciting.”

William Haggas saddles Hard To Resist at Doncaster
William Haggas saddles Hard To Resist at Doncaster (Mike Egerton/PA)

Darnation is set to renew rivalry with the William Haggas-trained Hard To Resist, who was just over two lengths behind her when third at Goodwood in the royal colours of the King and Queen.

“She ran well at Goodwood, staying on well behind Darnation. Unfortunately Darnation has got a good draw, as have we, and hopefully we can do a bit better, but Darnation is the one to beat,” Haggas told Sky Sports Racing.

“Both Cieren Fallon, who won on her at Newmarket, and Saffie Osborne, who rode her at Goodwood, reported that she’ll be better on better ground, so if it does dry up a bit that will suit her.”

Other contenders for the Group Two prize include a pair of July course debut winners in Ralph Beckett’s Meribella and Andrew Balding’s See The Fire, Ollie Sangster’s runaway Salisbury scorer Romanova and the hat-trick seeking Zenjabeela from Roger Varian’s yard.

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