The fifth and final British Classic of the season, the St Leger Stakes, requires little introduction (3.45pm Saturday at Doncaster live on CH4 TV).
This year’s renewal features four horses – three of whom are trained by Aidan O’Brien – who are rated within 2lb of each other according to the BHA and choosing between them is no easy task.
At the time of writing this St Leger preview, Storm The Stars (5/2), trained by William Haggas (pictured), is just hanging on to favouritism, ahead of the O’Brien-trained pair Bondi Beach (11/4) and Order Of St George (3/1).
Storm The Stars beat Bondi Beach by half a length in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last month and, having previously finished in the first three in Grand Prix de Paris and both the English and Irish Derbies, probably just about deserves his position at the head of the market.
That said, there is clearly not much between him and Bondi Beach, who was carried across the course and bumped in the closing stages at York. The son of Galileo had previously just edged out his half brother, Order Of St George, in the Curragh Cup, over 1 mile 6 furlongs, so remains one to take seriously.
For his part, Order Of St George has since skated up at odds-on in Her Majesty’s Plate at Down Royal and the Irish St Leger Trial Stakes at the Curragh. So it is not difficult to see why there’s very little to choose between the principals at the head of the St Leger betting market.
Aidan O’Brien’s third entry, Fields Of Athenry (7/1) was a creditable fifth, beaten 6¾ lengths, behind Litigant in the Tote Ebor at York three weeks ago, but had a hard race on that occasion and may lack the scope of his progressive stable companions.
Outside the front four in the betting, no filly has won the St Leger since User Friendly in 1992, but connections of Simple Verse (11/1) have taken the bold step of supplementing her at a cost of £50,000, so she’s worth a second look on that score alone.
This daughter of Duke Of Marmalade took the step up in class and distance in her stride when staying on well to win the Lillie Langtry Stakes, over 1 mile 6 furlongs, at Goodwood in July and, although absent since, remains completely unexposed over staying distances. She has 8lb to find with Storm The Stars on official ratings, but another major step forward isn’t out of the question.
St Leger Preview’s Betting Tips Verdict
Order Of St George has recorded two of his three career wins on soft going, but appears equally effective under faster conditions and may be the pick of the Ballydoyle trio. How much he has improved since making his seasonal debut at the Curragh in June remains to be seen, but the official version (10lb) seems entirely reasonable and he may yet have more to offer.