William Hill St Leger Stakes (Group1) 1m 61/2f Doncaster Saturday

doncaster racesDoncaster stages the final Classic of the British racing season on Saturday, and historically, York’s Great Voltigeur Stakes has been the best guide. Run over 1m4f at The Ebor Meeting, 13 winners of the Group2 event have gone on to Doncaster glory starting with Premonition who landed the double in 1953. Saturday’s hot favourite, the John Gosden trained, Logician, will be hoping to extend the sequence, but caution is advised as it is 12 years since the double has been landed, (by Lucarno, also trained by Gosden) and the only animal to have even run in The York race, and collected at Doncaster since, was last year’s Hero, Kew Gardens, (Finished 3rd at York). That said, Mr Gosden has won Doncaster’s Blue Riband on 4 occasions so certainly knows what is required and logician has plenty to recommend him.

The son of Frankel, unraced as a 2yo, began his career at a pretty low level, in a Class4 10f Newbury Maiden in May, which he won with ease, and followed up with 2 facile Handicap victories over 10 and 12 furlongs. Taking a huge step up in Class for the Great Voltigeur, he justified his short price of 10/11, keeping on strongly to beat the 110 rated, Ballydoyle hope, Constantinople by 1 3/4L. If he is as effective over Saturday’s extra 2 1/2f, he must have a great chance of giving Mr Gosden a 5th win in the Classic, but it’s worth remembering that The St Leger is all about stamina, and there are mixed messages coming from Logician’s pedigree. He is out of the Daylami mare Scuffle, whose dam never raced beyond 7f, and his full brother, Collide failed to stay on his only attempt at 14f. The furthest any of his other 3 half siblings have won over is 9 1/2 f so breeding would, at the very least, raise questions about the Frankel colts ability to grind it out up Doncaster’s long unforgiving strait on Saturday.

Having finished a close 3rd to Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee in York’s 2mile Lonsdale Cup 22 days ago there are no stamina doubts about Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo colt
Il Paradiso, and beautifully bred, he is out of the Danehill Dancer mare, Famous, whose mother, Starlight Dreams, is the Dam Of the top class, Mastercraftsman. Prior to York he had hacked up by 12L in a 2m Curragh Handicap and he handles soft ground so any rain would have to help his chances.

Besides Il Paradiso, the Ballydoyle yard are mob handed at the time of writing, but Derby 5th, Sir Dragonet, (only beaten 3/4L and ridden by Ryan Moore) looks by far the most likely of them. Unraced as a 2yo, he has only run 4 times, and won his first two in the style of a stayer, cruising up in a 12 1/2f Tipperary Maiden in April, and then making short work of some decent animals in the 12 1/2f (Gd-Sft) Group3 Chester Vase, where he had Saturday’s opponents, Norway and Dashing Willoughby 8L and 3/4L back in 2nd and 3rd. Connections were perfectly happy with his 4th in a 10f Curragh Group 3 following a 76 day break 4 weeks ago and report him in fine fettle for Saturday’s Heat. He is by the St Leger runner up Camelot and his grand dam was a daughter of the great Urban Sea, (Dam of Galileo and Sea The Stars) so there are plenty of positives there. It will be interesting to see if Ryan chooses to take the ride again and if he does,take the hint!

The all conquering Middleham yard of training Maestro, Mark Johnston, will be hoping to land a first St Leger with their improving son of Australia, Sir Ron Priestley, and the style in which he won Goodwood’s 14f March Stakes 3 weeks ago, suggests that it may not be a forlorn one. Making all, under a canny ride from Saturday’s excellent pilot, Franny Norton, he stayed on strongly to win by 1 1/2L from Promissory with the 105 rated Manuela De Vega, (rec3lbs) another 1 1/2L back in 3rd. It has been a long time between drinks as far as Classics are concerned for such a top trainer, as Mr Johnston,
(Attraction 1000gns 2004 and Mr Baileys 2000gns 1994) and Im sure that most racing fans would agree that a third success is long overdue.

The Martyn Meade trained Technician improved for the step up in trip when taking Newbury’s 13f Geoffrey Freer Stakes 4 weeks ago in eye catching fashion. The son of Mastercraftsman stayed on well to beat the 113 rated favourite Morando on soft ground and would be worth considering if similar conditions prevail at the weekend.

Selection  : Sir Dragonet

EW.            : Sir Ron Priestley

John Gray

William Hill St Leger Stakes (Group1) 1m6 1/2f Doncaster Saturday

st leger historyFirst run in 1776, the St Leger is the World’s oldest classic. Contested over an extended 1m6f the race is invariably run at a sustained pace, and when turning in, the runners face a relentless battle up Doncaster’s long attritional strait, putting a huge emphasis on stamina. Non stayers don’t win the St Leger! Training honours in the modern era, with five victories apiece are shared by Saeed Bin Suroor and Aidan O’Brien, while the riding accolade goes to Frankie Dettori who only needs to hit the back of the net twice more to equal the immortal Lester Piggot’s seven wins, and he looks to have excellent prospects of getting one closer on the John Gosden (4 St Leger winners to his credit) trained filly, Lah Ti Dar.

a mug of Lester Pigott from june 1962

Lester won the St Leger on seven occasions

Unraced as a 2yo, the daughter of Dubawi has gone from strength to strength in her three races. She made her racecourse debut in April, hosing up in a lowly Class4 Newbury Maiden (1m2f Gd/Sft) and 16 days later took a big step up in class to win the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes (1m2f Gd/Fm) in equally impressive style at Newmarket. Further progress was evident last time when stepped up in trip she spread eagled a decent field in the Listed Galtres Stakes (1m4f Gd/Fm) at York 23 days ago, winning by 10L. More will be required at the weekend, but as a Daughter of the super mare,
Dare Re Mi, who was twice successful at the top level, including when winning the 2010 renewal of the Group1 12f Sheema Classic from the legendary Japanese Mare Buena Vista, (won over £10 million pounds in prize money) there should be plenty more to come from the Gosden filly. With only seven post war victories for Fillies in the final Classic, (Meld 1955 Cantelo1959 Dunfermline 1977 Sun Princess 1983 Oh So Sharp 1985 User Friendly 1992 and controversially, Simple Verse three years ago) the stats aren’t exactly encouraging but the 3lbs sex allowance is certainly a bonus in such a testing heat.

andrew balding st leger

Andrew Balding’s Maid Up has great each way claims

The only other filly in Saturday’s field is the Andrew Balding trained Maid Up, and she has demonstrated she has the requisite stamina for Saturday’s test, going down by a Shd over 14f in a Goodwood Group2 at the beginning of August, and comfortably winning the Group3 Lilly Langtry Stakes, run at a good clip, over the same course and distance 22days ago. This stoutly bred filly has a very progressive profile, and having paid plenty to supplement her, connections will be hoping, at the very least, to land some place money.

The Charlie Appleby trained Old Persian stayed on gamely to win the Group2 Great Voltigeur Stakes (1m4f) at York 24 days ago by a head from stable companion Cross Country with the current St Leger market leader, Kew Gardens, who was conceding 2lbs, 1 3/4L back in 3rd. While this was a considerable advance on his 6th in the Irish Derby there isn’t much in his pedigree to suggest that Saturday’s trip will bring further improvement, and it is 11 year’s since a Great Voltigeur winner (Lucarno 2007) went on to collect at Doncaster.

At the time of writing Kew Gardens heads a 7 strong challenge from Ballydoyle and following that effort in the Great Voltigeur last time is a warm order to give Aidan O’Brien a 6th victory in the race. The son of Galileo showed how well suited he is by Saturday’s trip when running away with The Queen’s Vase at The Royal Meeting in June and further enhanced his stamina credentials when winning the Group1
Grand Prix De Paris (1m4f Good) in July. In a fast run heat he kept on strongly to assert in the final 50yds where he had Saturday’s opponent, Dee Ex Bee 4 1/4L back in third.
2lbs better off with Old Persian and with Ballydoyle back in top form he is going to be difficult to beat.

Aidan’s son, Joseph is hoping to become the first handler who has ridden a winner of the Classic, (Leading Light 2013) to train one, since Harry Wragg brought off the double with Intermezzo in 1969, and he must have a serious chance of doing so with his Irish Derby winner Latrobe. The son of Camelot kept on really well to keep his dad’s Rostropovich and Saxon Warrior at Bay in The Curragh Classic, and is easily forgiven his poor effort in the 10f Juddmonte International last time where the trip was too short. There are mixed messages from his pedigree but his half brother, Entangling, stayed quite well, albeit at a modest level, and his full brother, Pink Dogwood, currently racing as a 2yo, shapes like a stayer.

Selection  : Lah Ti Dar.   (If abs) Kew Gardens
E.W.            : Maid Up
John Gray

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