Racing News Blog
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September is a month of transition as we move from the flat to the Jumps season proper. We have the St Leger festival this week and the main race itself on Saturday looks to be a cracker.
Established in 1776, the St Leger is the oldest of Britain’s five classics and throughout the Victorian era it fiercely rivaled the Derby for supremacy. It is the last of the five to be run each year, and its distance is longer than any of the other four.
The race got its name at a dinner party held at the Red Lion Inn, Doncaster, the Marquis of Rockingham proposed the race to be called the St Leger’s Stakes as a compliment to the popular local sportsman Lt-Gen. Anthony St Leger of Park Hill.
Originally a two mile race until the early 1800’s with various changes in between, it was eventually run over the current distance of 1m 6f and has stayed that distance since. Open to Group 1 flat three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies.
The main race itself this year I think a lot will depend on the ground. Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean is the current favourite after winning a Group 3 over 1 mile 4 at Goodwood Ryan Moore was on board that day and he said Crystal Ocean did not strike him as a 1 mile 6f horse. There are also doubts about the ground although that win at Goodwood was on soft ground this is against a better class of opposition and if it gets any softer it could be a worry for his team. They will be hoping the rain gods stay away from Doncaster between now and then. Current champion jockey Jim Crowley is taking the ride on the son of Sea the Stars for the first time.
Ryan Moore on board Crystal Ocean in the Gordon stakes at Goodwood
Aidan O’Brien has a good record in this race and his leading charge comes from Capri who beat Cracksman last time out and with 120 being the marker for winning Leger ratings he hits that mark so cannot be dismissed. O’Brien also brings across the pond with him Venice Beach, Abyssinian, , Douglas Macarthur, The Anvil and Air Supremacy although it is unlikely they will all race and the numbers are more than likely to be cut down when final race declarations are made.
Capri beating Cracksman in the Irish Derby at the Curragh
Andrea Atzeni has a good record at Doncaster and takes the mount as retained rider on Defoe who is unbeaten this year winning all four runs including over 1m 5f with Atzeni on board last time out at Newbury to pick up the horses first Group success. Defoe is likely to enjoy the big galloping track at Doncaster and stay the trip. He has won on good ground but it seems he is best on soft so more rain would be an advantage to his chances but can go on any ground.
Defoe (left) winning the Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury
John Gosden is the other trainer you have to look to for Leger success, he brings two runners to the party in the shape of Stradivarius and Coronet. The latter is the only filly in the race this year and fillies have a history of doing well in this race but possibly his best chance looks to be with Stradivarius another son of Sea the Stars who romped home last time out beating off Big Orange at Goodwood over 2 miles in a Group 1. Atzeni was on board that day and we don’t know who will take the ride here yet but whoever does has a real chance on this animal and the drop back in trip should suit. One question mark has to be if the ground is too soft will it suit with his best form on good.
Stradivarius beating off Big Orange to win at Goodwood
Whatever happens it looks to be a good race on a fair track to finish off the classics and mark the start to the end of this years flat season. Lets hope the rain holds off and does not put a dampener on what looks a potentially great race this year.