Last updated September 14th, 2013
The St Leger presents a fascinating challenge for punters on Saturday as it looks to be a particularly open renewal of this final Classic of the season (3.50pm, Doncaster).
David Wachman’s Galileo Rock (9/2) has proved more consistent than the majority of his rivals and looks progressive. He opened his season in the Sandown Classic Trial over one mile and two furlongs in April. He put his best work in at the business end of the race to finish third by just half a length to Sugar Boy.
It was a similar story in the Epsom Derby when he finished one and a half lengths behind Aidan O’Brien’s Ruler Of The World in third, beaten a short head by Libertarian. When the ground was good to firm in the Irish Derby Galileo Rock came second by one and three quarter lengths to Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather. Connections are encouraged that his three parts brother, Saddler’s Rock, has stamina in abundance. However the prevailing good to soft ground may compromise his chances.
John Gosden has an outstanding record in the Leger, sending out three of the past six winners. This year he saddles Excess Knowledge, the 7/2 joint favourite, who was an unlucky beaten favourite in the Gordon Stakes (a Group 3 over a mile and a half) at Glorious Goodwood. He encountered traffic problems and was hampered in the final furlong but still ran on well in the final stages to get within a head of Charlie Appleby’s Cap O’Rushes.
In his only other start this season he came third in a one mile two furlong listed race at Sandown on July 5th, staying on well to finish third, a length behind Alain de Royer-Dupré’s Mandour. The style of these runs suggests that he will relish the extra distance and, as a son of Monsun he could well highlight the benefits of German breeding. Unfortunately he does not seem generously priced for a colt that has never encountered Group 1 company.
Godolphin landed the 2012 St Leger with the 25/1 outsider, Encke and sends out three colts this year. Libertarian (8/1) is the most fancied of their runners. This tall son of New Approach’s was bought by Godolphin out of Karl Burke’s yard after he came second in the Derby and is now trained by Charlie Appleby. Appleby seems to be doing a good job since he took over from his former boss, Mahmood Al Zarooni.
Libertarian’s disappointing first run for Godolphin in the Irish Derby was put down to the unsuitably fast ground. He started as the second favourite but finished second last. The ground on Saturday will be much slower.
Libertarian’s dam won over two miles when carrying top weight in a handicap as a three-year-old. Her sire was Darshaan, who was also the dam sire of the 2001 Leger winner, Aidan O’Brien’s Milan. Anyone who remembers Libertarian staying on strongly in the final furlong of the Epsom Derby must have hopes that he will get further. He stole second place from Galileo Rock in the final few yards to finish one and a half lengths behind Aidan O’Brien’s Ruler Of The World. This will be his sixth start of the season. If Appleby has him back to his best, he has to be considered, especially now the ground is likely to be good to soft.
Appleby also saddles another son of New Approach, Cap’O Rushes (16/1). He finished fourth in the Irish Derby when ridden as a pacemaker and went on to take the Gordon Stakes, proving he can perform on good to soft ground. In his most recent start in the Great Voltigeur he could only finish sixth of seven. This will be his sixth start of the season but he is in with an each-way chance if this is not one race too many for him.
In contrast, this will be Foundry’s (6/1) second start this year and only his third in total. Aidan O’Brien’s son of Galileo won his only start as a two-year-old in a maiden at Leopardstown on soft ground. His starting price of 9/2 suggested that he had not shown anything spectacular in his home work.
In August this year Foundry came second to Sir Michael Stoute’s Telescope by one and a quarter lengths in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur at York. Super-sub Ryan Moore takes the ride on Saturday. The horse is unexposed and could be anything.
It looks significant that Joseph O’Brien has chosen to partner Foundry’s stablemate, Leading Light (5/1). This son of Montjeu has to be taken very seriously. He is unbeaten in his three starts this season. In May he romped home in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes over a mile and two furlongs at the Curragh, beating John Oxx’s Little White Cloud by just over two lengths.
In his most recent start at Royal Ascot he proved he has stamina in abundance, winning the Group 3 Queen’s Vase over two miles. He is the only one of the market protagonists who will not be encountering uncharted territory beyond a mile and a half. Leading Light has also posted wins, albeit in lesser company, on soft ground. He has to be one for the shortlist.
The third Godolphin runner, sent out by Saeed bin Suroor, is Secret Number 14/1. This son of Raven’s Pass has had a busy season. Most recently he finished third, half a length behind Foundry, in the Great Voltigeur. He previously came fifth in Gordon Stakes. He has not won since his seasonal debut in a listed race on the Tapeta in Dubai. Recent form suggests that he will find a few too good for him here.
Supporting fillies in the Leger has proved extremely expensive for punters. Ralph Beckett sent out Look Here to take third in 2008. This year he saddles Talent, the winner of the Oaks, in the hope of turning the tables on the colts.
It is over 20 years since a filly, User Friendly, won the Leger. Beckett thinks that cut in the ground will enhance this daughter of New Approach’s chances. He put her disappointing run in the Irish Oaks (she came last of the seven runners) down to the surface being too fast for her. In the Oaks she stormed nearly four lengths clear of Beckett’s more fancied runner, Secret Gesture on good to soft. She looks to be in with a chance here.
The same cannot be said of John Patrick Shanahan’s Ralston Road 100/1. He has been found wanting on his previous three starts in Group company and looks comprehensively outclassed.
Brian Meehan’s Great Hall 20/1 comes into the race on the back of two wins, but they were in a maiden over a mile and two furlongs and a handicap over a mile and a half. He has never encountered company of this class or ground softer than good. The manner of his most recent victory at Haydock in July over a mile and a half suggests that he may get further but his rating of 98 (shared with Ralston Road) suggests he will have to have progressed massively to feature.
Havana Beat, sent out by Andrew Balding, is rated just two pounds higher with an official rating of 100. Most recently he came last in the Gordon Stakes. More promise was shown in his previous run in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy over a mile and five furlongs at Newmarket in July. He was an unlucky third to Gosden’s Feel Like Dancing in a blanket finish but that was on good to firm. It seems unlikely that this son of Teofilo will perform with cut in the ground.
St Leger Betting Tips Conclusion
Conditions are likely to be testing on Saturday which will bring stamina to the fore. Libertarian is tempting each-way at a best current price of 8/1 with William Hill, particularly if he returns to his Epsom Derby form. However LEADING LIGHT, unbeaten since his debut and with winning form on soft and over two miles, has to be our pick at 5/1 with BetVictor or Bet365 bookmaker, though we anticipate this will shorten.
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Fiona Derek is our Reality TV and horse racing expert. The only time you won’t find her riding or mucking out a racehorse is when she is watching Reality TV or racing on the box.