The St Leger Stakes is the final Classic of the season and takes place at Doncaster on Saturday 16th September. The race is confined to three-year-olds.
In recent years the two races that have supplied the bulk of the winners have been the Great Voltigeur and the Gordon Stakes with 11 out of 16 winners since 2000 running in one or the other on their previous start. The Epsom Derby can also provide some interesting clues.
Here is a runner-by-runner guide to this year’s renewal on Town Moor.
Dee Ex Bee (M. Johnston/S. De Sousa)
Many pundits have said that Mark Johnston’s horse has looked a Leger type all season long, particularly after his impressive second to Masar in the Investec Derby in June, but it is somewhat of a worry that he is winless this term.
From finishing runner-up in the Chester Vase in May, Dee Ex Bee has held his form all year and it would come as no surprise to see him finish in the frame again here.
Kew Gardens (A. O'Brien/R. Moore)
The Galileo colt is vying for outright favouritism on the back of winning the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and the Group One Grand Prix de Paris earlier this year.
Beaten just under two lengths when third in the Great Voltigeur at York last time, O’Brien felt that Kew Garden’s 5lb penalty for his Longchamp win proved decisive in his defeat and that the switch back up to 14 furlongs will be just what he needs.
Loxley (C. Appleby/J. Doyle)
Loxley finished second in the Bahrain Trophy in July and has subsequently won twice in France in impressive fashion. The Godolphin owner horse had been under consideration for the Prix Niel this weekend but has been rerouted to Doncaster instead.
A bold showing on Saturday and Appleby will probably be going to the Arc at Longchamp with a live hope.
Nelson (A. O'Brien/M. Hussey)
A handy looking two-year-old last term who successfully made all the running in the Ballysax Stakes this year as a three-year old.
Since then he appears to have been on pace making duties and it will probably be the same case again here.
Old Persian (C. Appleby/W. Buick)
Old Persian booked his ticket to the St Leger with victory in the Group Two Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last time out.
He has had a great season with four wins, including at Royal Ascot and the Great Voltigeur is seen as a leading trial for this race. He will however need top of the ground going so keep an eye on the forecast.
Proschema (T. Dascombe/R. Kingscote)
Proschema confirmed the promise of two placed efforts last autumn when getting off the mark on his seasonal debut at Doncaster.
He won over an extended mile and three furlongs at Haydock and has acquitted himself well in handicaps this season. Most recently he caught the eye when third to Ghostwatch in the Melrose Handicap at York.
There are a lot worse 50/1 outsiders you can pick out on a Saturday afternoon.
Raymond Tusk (R. Hannon/A. Atzeni)
Sixth in the Coral-Eclipse, Raymond Tusk was a staying-on second in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury last time out and Richard Hannon is optimistic the extended one-mile-six-furlong trip is achievable for his runner.
Owners Middleham Park Racing came within three-quarters of a length of claiming the 2016 renewal with Ventura Storm and are enjoying plenty of winners at the moment. Could it be their turn this year?
Southern France (A. O'Brien/J. Heffernan)
Southern France ran in the Irish St Leger trial last time out at the Curragh, finishing fourth, and O'Brien has plenty of plans for the colt for the remainder of this season and beyond it.
He chased home Kew Gardens in the Queen’s Vase and his fourth in the Irish Leger Trail was quite miraculous given the impossible position he was in turning in.
He could quite easily rate as the biggest danger to Kew Gardens in this field should he show all his brimming potential.
The Pentagon (A. O'Brien/W. Lordan)
The Pentagon finished fifth in both the Great Voltigeur and the Irish Derby this season and is probably the likely pace angle in this race.
It is very hard to see him being the surprise package of the Aidan O’Brien quintet in this feature.
Zabriskie (A. O'Brien/J. Crowley)
A Frankel colt who came third in the Dante earlier in the season but has shown nothing that points to him being a Leger winner.
More than likely he will be making sure the coast is clear for the stable’s other fancied runners.
Lah Ti Dar (J. Gosden/L. Dettori)
Lah Ti Dar, the runaway winner of the Galtres Stakes at York’s Ebor meeting, was confirmed late in the week as a runner in the St Leger.
The Dubawi filly is running on Town Moor in preference to the Group 1 Prix Vermeille, a major Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe trial, on Sunday afternoon at Longchamp.
Ruled out of the Investec Oaks at Epsom in June, Lah Ti Dar made an impressive return to action with a 10-length demolition of her rivals at York.
Whether John Gosden and Lady Lloyd-Webber will rue not going down the Prix Vermeille and the Arc route remains to be seen, but if she wins on Saturday it will be deemed a masterstroke.
Maid Up (A. Balding/R. Hornby)
Supplemented into the race this week, Andrew Balding's filly has won four of her last five races and produced a top performance when landing the Group Three March Stakes at Goodwood on her latest appearance.
Whether she is up to this grade is questionable but she certainly deserves to take her chance.
With the Aidan O’Brien stable beginning to click back into first gear after a recent spell of sickness in the yard it would not be beyond the realms of possibility to see O’Brien land yet another big race 1-2-3.
Kew Gardens and Southern France appear to be the main O’Brien protagonists but some of his outsiders do surprise us all in the Classics and another forgotten horse could run a blinder on Saturday.
Selection: Southern France e/w.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*