Our racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com and geegeez.co.uk, the world’s largest independent horse racing website, looks at Saturday’s St Leger.
The Group 1 St Leger Stakes is open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies. It is run at Doncaster over a distance of one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards, and usually takes place on the first Saturday in September.
Established in 1776, the St Leger is the oldest of Britain’s five Classics.
It is the last of the five to be run each year, and its distance is longer than any of the other four.
The St Leger is the final leg of the English Triple Crown, which begins with the 2000 Guineas and continues with the Derby.
It also completes the Fillies’ Triple Crown, following on from the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks.
The St Leger has rarely featured Triple Crown contenders in recent decades, with the only one in recent years being the 2012 2,000 Guineas and Derby winner Camelot, who finished second in the St Leger.
The event was devised by Anthony St Leger, an army officer and politician who lived near Doncaster.
It was initially referred to as ‘A Sweepstake of 25 Guineas’, and its original distance was two miles.
The rules stipulated that colts and geldings were to carry 8st, and fillies would receive an allowance of 2lb.
Sporting Life’s Dave Ord attended the three-course lunch on Monday and highlighted that of the seven horses they have engaged, Coolmore and Aidan O’Brien expect to run ‘three or four’.
One will be Idaho - who everyone in the room agreed had a favourite’s chance. There was hardly a discerning word about him until the very final guest of the afternoon spoke, and Frankie Dettori who expressed his concern that the current odds-on favourite took an awfully long time to put the Great Voltigeur to bed.
Sword Fighter was his - and a few other wily judges’ - idea of the best bet on Saturday.
The Sporting Life’s Ord reported that the second favourite is Muntahaa for John Gosden.
By the trainer’s own admission this is very much a work in progress and a horse who is only going to improve further as he strengthens up.
The last eight winners of the St Leger have had up to five seasonal starts and had either won or were beaten by no more than five lengths last time out.
Seven of the last eight winners finished in the first three last time out and were officially rated between 109 and 115, while six of the last eight winners had their last run at York, Goodwood or Ascot.
It’s Idaho’s to lose, but he is plenty short enough in the market for me.
I will be watching to see if another of O’Brien’s takes his chance in the shape of, The Major General, who will be taking a giant step up in class, but, has plenty stamina in his breeding, being by Galileo out of a Danehill mare.
Another at a price is Richard Hannon’s Ventura Storm who could grab a place late on, but it’s John Gosden’s Muntahaa I keep returning to, as the trainer does like to play down the chances of a good ‘un.