Avoiding the O’Brien St Leger battalion could be wise at this stage


With 16 of the 29 horses currently entered in the Ladbrokes St Leger in his care, you could be forgiven for thinking that Aidan O’Brien has the final Classic of the season at his mercy.

But on closer inspection, the master of Ballydoyle may not be in quite a strong position.

He will undoubtedly trim down his representatives for the big race on September 12, but with this many left at this late stage, one suspects a multi-pronged attack on the Doncaster contest is in order.

The quantity is undoubtedly there, but what about the quality? Just Fields of Athenry marks a 10/1 or shorter chance for the four-time winner of the race, while seven of his charges are 33/1 or bigger.

The Irish Champion trainer may have had great success in the race but on occasions where he has had more than three runners, rarely has success been forthcoming.

In the six renewals that he has sent out three or more horses, just once has he gone home with the spoils, and twice has the supposed first string been usurped by a less fancied stablemate.

Back in 2008 Hindu Kush finished fourth, ahead of four other O’Brien representatives at a bumper price of 200/1, highlighting the difficulty of separating his runners.

He, as will we, will undoubtedly have more of an idea of his St Leger team this time next week.

Eight of his Classic candidates are engaged to run in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York next week, in a race that could offer a severe shake-up of the antepost market for Doncaster.

While the man’s training credentials speak for themselves, backing any of his charges at this early stage looks fraught with dangers.

That being said, defeat for any horse in the race next week will undoubtedly see them pushed out in the market for the 1m6f contest in a month’s time.

Instead it could pay to focus attention horses that are swerving the Leger-lite on the Knavesmire.

Jessica Harrington’s Jack Naylor may yet be in action at York next week, but continues to take on her own sex in the Yorkshire Oaks, in a race that looks arguably stronger than the Voltigeur.

Defeat there, as long as it’s no blowout may not be judged quite so harshly.

A 14/1 shot for the St Leger, the filly has yet to be tested at further than 1m4f, but the way that she stayed on at the end of the Irish Oaks behind Covert Love suggests it could yet unlock more.

Sire Champs Elysees has already produced Ascot Gold Cup Trip to Paris, so she clearly has some form of stamina running through her pedigree.

She looks a backable antepost price in a race that the Ballydoyle juggernaut, while heavy on numbers, lacks attraction.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.



Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.