The oldest of the British classics, the St Leger was first run back in 1776 and is the final leg of the British Triple Crown last won by a colt, Nijinsky, in 1970 and by a filly, Oh So Sharp, in 1985. It is also the deepest test of stamina of the five classics being run over one mile and six furlongs and 132 yards. Paul Jacobs gives his early views of the race below.
Doncaster Tips –
Of course since I first penned this preview, straight after the Derby, plenty of water has passed under the Town Moor ante-post bridge. Below is the bulk of my original preview interspersed with updates through the last two and a half months.
The obvious horse to take from the Derby, if as I hope Kingston Hill doesn't run at Doncaster, is the third home Romsdal. John Gosden’s charge had every chance three furlongs out, but when the first two quickened again he simply couldn’t go with them, merely staying on at the one pace. However, top betting odds of 10/1 are attributable to that run but also the post-race comments of John Gosden, and make no appeal so far from the race and I would much rather look elsewhere for a wager at this early stage especially following a poor run at Ascot (King George) where he was never travelling at any stage of that contest.
The postscript to Ascot is that he must be afforded another chance to show his King George run was all wrong on possibly slower ground.
I feel that Marzocco is simply crying out for a real test of stamina at this relatively early stage in his career and view backed up by his running on fourth at York. However, I have been slightly put off by the negative comments from his trainer who feels even this extended one and three quarter mile test may prove too sharp. I would beg to differ and feel, given a good gallop, it could prove perfect for him although a bit of rain wouldn't go amiss.
GRANDDUKEOFTUSCANY also couldn't quicken on the fast ground at York and seemed to find things happening too quickly but he was thrown in at the deep end here and may be worth another chance to confirm O'Brien's high opinion of him if not in the final Classic of the season maybe lower down the staying scale. Looking to next year he could be the strong galloping type to make into an Ascot Gold Cup horse in 2015. Like many of the 15 strong field, including favourite Kingston Hill he too would be a better proposition on a softer surface.
I have always been a huge fan of Alex My Boy, but ultimately this wasn't the ante-post race I had in mind for him. His wins at Haydock and back at Musselburgh probably left him 15lbs short of classic standard at that stage, but then he took another step forward in the March Stakes, a race in hindsight he should have won. Having backed him for next year's Ascot Gold Cup I am hoping Johnston doesn't over race him during the final few months of the year.
Hartnellcould yet enter my betting profile on this final Classic of the season after a cracking performance at Newmarket. Forget his run at York as that was merely a speed test over 12 furlongs and I know he is highly rated by Mark Johnston, a race in which he finished behind Snow Sky. Both horses will probably improve for the step up to the Leger trip and are in turn preferred to Windshear.
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