Of the 15 horses currently retaining an entry in the Ladbrokes St Leger, Aidan O’Brien is responsible for seven of these possible runners.
The St Leger betting would suggest that only a trio of this group will actually line up at Doncaster, with Idaho, Housesofparliament and Sword Fighter all priced no bigger than 12/1, while The Major General, Triplicate, Kellstorm and Unicorn are all backable at odds of at least 40/1.
O’Brien himself has suggested that he is currently expecting to run “three or four”, with 4/5 St Leger favourite Idaho ranked by the trainer as being in the same category as his four previous winners in terms of his demeanour and previous form over both 1m2f and 1m4f.
However, there are a few reasons as to why Sword Fighter looks the better betting proposition at 12/1:
It is far from proven that Idaho will stay the St Leger trip of 1m6f and if anything it seems to be at the maximum of his stamina level. If the early pace is strong at Doncaster, it is more than possible that Idaho’s smart turn of foot will be nullified.
Sword Fighter won the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot over 2m when given a fine front-running ride by Colm O’Donoghue and followed up over 1m6f in a Group 2 at the Curragh when again making all.
He lost nothing in defeat last time when fifth in the Goodwood Cup against older horses and is back against his fellow three-year-olds here.
The O’Brien first string
Since 2006, O’Brien has saddled at least one St Leger runner in each of the 10 years. Yet, only one of his most fancied runners (Leading Light in 2013) has landed the spoils.
Honolulu (13/8), Frozen Fire (9/4), Changingoftheguard (3/1), Camelot (2/5) and Bondi Beach (2/1) are among the well-supported O’Brien contenders to be beaten in the past decade.
Both of Idaho’s career successes to date have come on quick ground, but rather than good-to-firm at Doncaster, clerk of the course Roderick Duncan is expecting the St Leger going to be on the easy side of good.
This may suit Sword Fighter, who has proved suited to either good-to-soft or yielding conditions this term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.