Doncaster St Leger

Ante Post: A Look At The Doncaster St Leger

Steve Mullington
Last Classic of the season is fast approaching

With very little of a summer to speak of it’s hard to believe that the Flat season is pretty much drawing to a close and that the last Classic of the season is almost upon us.

The St Leger is the oldest of the five Classic races and is always fiercely contested. This year’s renewal is no different with Aidan O'Brien being responsible for 16 of the original 29 entries.

Sir Michael Stoute, who waited a total of 26 years before he finally trained the winner with Conduit in 2008, saddles the ante-post favourite Crystal Ocean.

Other notable trainers with entries are John Gosden and Saeed Bin Suroor.


A closer inspection the market principles

After securing his tenth victory in the Group 3 Gordon with Crystal Ocean, Stoute said he was ready to consider having "a one-off fling" at the St Leger with the colt, as he did with Conduit nine years ago.

Stoute said: "We've loved him from early days. He's a lovely stamp of horse with a good mind.

"He goes on soft ground – we knew that because he did in the Dante – but I was concerned about this ground because this is the worst they will ever get, with that phenomenal rain. But he's gone and handled it really well. He's a good athlete and that helps.

"I said before the Dante that I didn't consider him to be a Derby horse. You've got to be more mature than that at Epsom."

The Sir Evelyn de Rothschild-owned runner is currently a 7/2 shot with us at 888sport.


The O’Brien factor

Aidan O’Brien’s Capri shot to the top of the betting after grinding it out in the Irish Derby and recent betting patterns suggest he will turn up on Town Moor rather than heading to Chantilly for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Capri had finished sixth, beaten less than four lengths at Epsom in early-June but appeared much better suited by the galloping Curragh circuit. He showed a great attitude as well as plenty of stamina to see off a host of challengers inside the final furlong and on that evidence the extra two-and-a-half furlongs of the St Leger should be within range.

Aidan O’Brien is seeking a fifth victory in the race and Capri may well be joined by some longer priced stablemates in the line-up.

Gosden playing second fiddle to no one

Gosden has saddled five Group One winners in Europe this season and will be hoping to pick up more over the coming weeks. He reports that all is well with Stradivarius, the Goodwood Cup winner, ahead of his run in the St Leger at Doncaster.

Stradivarius looked every bit a St Leger contender after accounting for Big Orange last time out in the Qatar Goodwood Cup.

Gosden has won the Leger in recent times with the likes of Lucarno, Masked Marvel and Arctic Cosmos and now there is every chance of him adding another name to that esteemed list.

After the Goodwood Cup, Gosden said: "We go to the St Leger, which is a race that I love and it is one mile and six and a half furlongs around Donnie, which is probably a similar test as it is an open galloping track whereas here is all zig zags and bends.

"I am always frightened when you take on the older horses with a three-year-old in a race like this, I thought he'd run well and I could see him in the frame but not necessarily winning. He has a good turn of foot, which is a good weapon in a two-mile race.

"I don't think the three-year-olds have an enormous advantage - Enable is a brilliant filly and this is a proper stayer, you can't come and do it without a proper horse."


Friend or Defoe?

Andrea Atzeni has his eyes firmly fixed on a third St Leger in four years after Defoe booked his place in the race with victory over his older contemporaries in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.

Successful on Kingston Hill and Simple Verse in 2014 and 2015, Atzeni is once again looking forward to stepping foot upon the Yorkshire racecourse. Defoe is progressing at a rate of knots and took his 100% cent record this season to four - though Roger Varian's colt had to survive a stewards' inquiry before landing the spoils.

Atzeni said: "This horse is getting better and he could be anything. At least we know that he stays.

"The Leger will be a very good race, but this fellow will go there with a big chance."

House proud

It promises to be an exciting few weeks for the Manton trainer Brian Meehan as he gears up for the St Leger with Raheen House.

The son of Sea The Stars is a 10/1 shot with us for the season's final Classic after winning the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket on his latest appearance in July.

"He's on course for the Leger. He seems in very good form at home," Meehan added.

"We're very pleased with what he's doing. We couldn't be happier with him, to be honest."


Chip off the old block

Joseph O'Brien's Rekindling is set for tilt at Classic glory in either next Sunday's Irish St Leger at the Curragh or the English version at Doncaster the following Saturday.

The colt was disappointing in the Derby in early June, but bounced back to beat last year's Irish Leger victor Wicklow Brave in the Curragh Cup in July.

Rekindling was last seen chasing home Order Of St George in the Irish Leger Trial at the Curragh.

Rekindling has been mentioned as a possible runner in the Melbourne Cup, but O'Brien is in no rush to commit to the long trip overseas.

"I'd say we'll go for either the English Leger or the Irish Leger and take it from there," said Joseph.

"He seems in very good form and we were delighted with how he ran the other day.

"In fairness to him, he's been running well all year apart from in the Derby."


*All odds correct at the time of writing - click here for the latest Doncaster St Leger odds*