St Leger Stakes 1m6f 132yds Saturday

Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O’Brien’s contender, Order Of St George, wouldn’t have impressed as a potential Leger winner when finishing second to Parish Boy at Leopardstown last October, but has really come into his own as a three year old.

Our E.W. Selection, Magical Memory, certainly belied his odds of 14/1 when finishing third in last week’s Gp1 Sprint Cup at Haydock Park. Always travelling very well within himself, he looked the most likely winner for most of the race, but probably got to the front just too soon. If he goes to Longchamp for the Prix de L’Abbe on Arc day his style of racing would be well suited to the furlong shorter trip, and is one to keep in mind. Saturday’s final English classic, the St Leger provides a test at the other end of the distance spectrum, and looks a fairly open contest.

Aidan O’Brien who has already bagged four St Leger victories (but has someway to go to match the nineteenth century handler, John Scott, who trained an amazing sixteen winners between 1827 and 1862) is triple handed, and all three go there with chances. Interestingly all three are by the outstanding Coolmore stallion, Galileo, and two of them, Bondi Beach and Fields of Athenry, boast an even closer relationship, both being out of Danehill mares. All three have won over 1m6f at either listed or group level so stamina shouldn’t be an issue.

Despite being drawn out with the washing, Fields of Athenry ran a decent race in the Ebor handicap. Drawn 22 and racing off an eye watering mark of 118, he finished a respectable fifth, despite not getting the greatest of rides from his 5lbs claiming pilot. He did have a hard race on the Knavesmire, but a reproduction of the form he showed the previous time he tackled the distance, at Leopardstown in July, when coasting to victory over the useful four year old Silwana would certainly put him firmly in the picture.

A winner of two of his four races, Bondi Beach is showing the benefit of his patient handling by the master of Ballydoyle. Unraced as a 2yo he made his racecourse debut at Leopardstown in May and under a hands and heels ride from Seamie Heffernan, won by a short head from the hot favourite Bantry Bay. He was a slightly unlucky second over 1m4f four weeks later, but upped to 1m6f next time he won a Gp3 by a short head from stable companion Order Of St George. Reverting to 1m4f in the Gp2 Great Voltigeur seven weeks later he looked an unlucky looser. Backed in to 11/4 favourite he was making steady progress over the last three furlongs when taking a bump one hundred and fifty yards out from Storm The Stars, who then carried him continuously to the left. He went down by 1/2L and in the subsequent controversial stewards inquiry, despite the jockey being stood down for three days the Haggas horse was allowed to keep the race. To this observer the best horse was second, and with an extra two and a half furlongs to travel at the weekend has excellent prospects of reversing the placings.

The third O’Brien contender, Order Of St George, wouldn’t have impressed as a potential Leger winner when finishing second to Parish Boy at Leopardstown last October, but has really come into his own as a three year old. On his reappearance, he ran stable companion Bondi Beach, who had the benefit of two previous runs to a shd, and then had little more than an exercise canter when winning at Down Royal four weeks later. On his latest appearance, Gp3 1m6f sft at the Curragh, he looked most impressive, winning by 7L and 8L from Seamoon and Kingfisher. He has clearly thrived since upped in trip and looks the one to beat on Saturday.

Storm The Stars who has accumulated £535,000 in win and place money must be a lovely animal to own. He ran two marvellous races when coming third in The Derby, and second in the Irish Equivalent. He demonstrated his toughness when coming third in a Longchamp Gp1, only seventeen days after his Irish Exertions and showed no signs of tiredness when collecting at York. He is a thoroughly genuine and likeable horse, but has had a very demanding season, and with some stamina doubts on the distaff, is passed over.

The French colt Vengeur Masque is bred to stay all day and ran a decent race last time at Deauville, 1m4 1/2f, finishing 4th. Unless the step up in distance elicits abnormal improvement it’s hard to see him being involved,

Selection: Order Of St George

Danger. : Bondi Beach

Ebor Handicap Betting Tips 1m6f York Saturday

Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O’Brien provides the favourite for this year’s renewal with his 3yo Galileo colt Fields Of Athenry, and judging by his last two runs deserves his position as market leader.

Neither of our selections in last week’s Gp2 Hungerford Stakes got a run in a contest that cut up badly due to ground conditions. As the race was won in a time only four seconds slower than standard the going can’t have been that bad, so perhaps some were over hasty in withdrawing their runners. Having said that the winner, Adday, won in taking fashion, and may well progress to win at the top level. Hopefully there won’t be any dramatic changes to the York surface resulting in a similar mass withdrawal from Saturday’s feature, The Ebor Handicap.

Aidan O’Brien provides the favourite for this year’s renewal with his 3yo Galileo colt Fields Of Athenry, and judging by his last two runs deserves his position as market leader. He didn’t make his racecourse debut until last October, where he finished seventh in a seven furlong Cork maiden. He reappeared on the all weather at Dundalk in May and duly won an 11f maiden easily. Given a rating of 99 and conceding 22lbs to the winner he was beaten 1L in a valuable Down Royal handicap over 1m4f. He started joint favourite for a 1m6f listed race at Leopardstown four weeks later and won impressively, beating the useful Dermot Weld trained filly, and joint favourite, Silwana by ten lengths. Dropped back to 1m4f for a Gp3 three weeks later, he put another useful Weld inmate, the progressive Edelpour to the sword. Three year olds don’t figure in recent renewals of this great handicap, being unexposed they fail to get sufficient weight to qualify, but it is worth noting that O’Brien is the one trainer to have bucked this trend. He handled the last three year old winner, Mediterranean, in 2001,and went close with Changingoftheguard, (2009) the last of the classic generation to get a run in the race. Fields Of Athenry looks a highly progressive animal who will be particularly well suited by Saturday’s trip, and despite his burden of 9st7lbs is short listed.

Tony Martins 6yo gelding Quick Jack showed plenty of pace when winning The Galway Hurdle three weeks ago, and will be well served by, what is likely to be a strongly run race, here on the Knavesmire. He was beaten only 3/4L by the subsequent Ascot Gold Cup winner, Trip to Paris, to whom he was conceding 6lbs, in this year’s Chester Cup. As he went down by a similar distance in last year’s Caesarawich it may be that he has not been quite getting home over these extreme distances and could be suited by Saturday’s trip. A slight reservation would be the poor record of horses older than five but coming from this yard it would be no surprise to see him involved at the business end.

Amanda Perrett, who won with Give The Slip in 2000, and whose father, Guy Harwood won it twice in the eighty’s, fields a likely type in the 4yo Sea The Stars colt, Astronereus. He ran two fine races over 1m4f this year at Newmarket and Royal Ascot, but it was his performance over course and distance in July that really catches the eye. Racing off a mark of 102 he was headed inside the final furlong, but digging deep, he was actually going away at the finish. Last time at Goodwood, (1m6f) a course that doesn’t suit him, he finished a very satisfactory third, beaten a couple of necks, again finding plenty at the finish of a mark of 107. This thoroughly genuine horse would be a most deserving winner if managing to defy the same mark at the weekend, and is another for the shortlist.

Hughie Morrison’s 4yo gelding, Fun Mac has been given an easy time of it since his gallant defeat by Clondaw Warrior at Royal Ascot. He was outstayed by the Mullins horse over the extreme 2 1/2 mile trip going down by 1/2L, and is now 4lbs better off. As Clondaw Warrior went on to collect a valuable 1m4f at Galway off a 7lbs higher mark the form looks good, so expect a top showing from the Morrison horse, who will be well suited by Saturday’s trip.

Luca Cummani’s 5yo Dubawi gelding, Ajman ran well on his first attempt at the trip when finishing a nose behind Astronereus in the Goodwood race. Despite not getting the run of the race he was staying on well at the finish. As he meets the Perrett horse on similar terms on the Knavesmire we can expect it to be close between them, but perhaps Astronereus’ course form may prove decisive.

Selection: Fields Of Athenry

EW: Astronereus