Some of the world’s leading colts and fillies will descend upon Doncaster on Saturday to battle it out for glory in the £700,000 St Leger Stakes. The oldest of Britain’s five Classics always attracts a stellar field and this year’s renewal is no different. The prize money is handsome and the prestige of landing the final leg of the Triple Crown is also hugely enticing, so the leading owners and trainers in the business go all out in a bid for victory. Aidan O’Brien put in seven five-day entries, while Goldophin will be well represented and the likes of Joseph O’Brien and Mark Johnston are also in the mix. Here are three leading contenders to consider:
This son of Galileo is leading the charge for O’Brien after winning the £200,000 Group 2 Qatar Stakes at Ascot and the Group 1 Grand Prix Stakes at Longchamp. If you check out the St Leger markets you will see that he is the clear ante-post favourite, but the price has eased somewhat after he could only finish third in the Great Voltigeur Stakes last month. However, he performed well under a 5lbs penalty, while the St Leger is a few furlongs longer than that contest, and Kew Gardens is expected to relish the step up in trip. He is a proven stayer and he has performed on most grounds, so he should be just fine unless the going becomes extremely soft. Good weather is forecast in Doncaster in the build-up to this race, which should suit him perfectly. He also has the Queen’s Vase under his belt, so he is a quality stayer and he deserves to be the favourite, but the price may be a little short for some punters. He also faces stern competition from his stablemates and there is a lot to like about Southern France, who chased Kew Gardens home in the Queen’s Vase and has improved with every race. At longer odds, he also looks like an appealing candidate from the O’Brien roster, as he looks like a smart each-way bet, but Kew Gardens is currently gaining the most attention.
Charlie Appleby’s bay colt was the toast of many punters when he defied big odds to land the Great Voltigeur Stakes last time out. He got the better of the highly rated Cross Counter and finished a length and a half clear of Kew Gardens with a rousing performance. Many expect Kew Gardens to reverse that form here over the longer trip, but Old Persian has to be considered for victory. He has progressed all year, and he has only suffered one defeat in his last four. That was in the Irish Derby, and it can be excused as he had a rapid turnaround from a splendid victory at Royal Ascot, and that race panned out in a strange fashion. He bounced back in style with that victory at York and he is well backed for the St Leger. He is extremely quick, but he has not really suggested that he is dying for a step up in trip. Yet if he does manage to stay he will be a real menace to the well-fancied duo of Kew Gardens and Lah Ti Dar. Latrobe, who won that Irish Derby, has since gone off the boil somewhat and Old Persian has a great chance of revenge in this race.
Dee Ex Bee
Mark Johnston declared that Dee Ex Bee “could be the best St Leger horse I’ve had” after watching his progress over the past year. He was second to Masar in the Investec Derby at Epsom, and he could blitz the field if he replicates that form here. He struggled badly in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, finishing four and a half lengths behind Cross Counter, but that does not look so bad in the context of Cross Counter’s subsequent success. Dee Ex Bee has since been given a long break in order to prepare for the St Leger and he really should be suited to the longer trip here. He has lacked a turn of pace of late, but he looks like an excellent stayer, and this is a perfect opportunity for him to roar back to firm, so Dee Ex Bee could be a really good each-way option in this race.