Picking out the winner of any of racing’s Classics is tough enough, but when you throw a new extended trip on the cards for the majority of the runners, the St Leger is that little bit more difficult.
In fact, just six of the 29 entries for the Doncaster contest have been tested at the 1m6f trip, and more faith has to be shown in regards to the stamina of any antepost picks.
Nevertheless, a deeper delve into the market could throw up a bit of value with the big race now three weeks away.
Here are a trio of potential runners, whose credentials may just be being underestimated.
Despite the fact he drifted like a barge ahead of the Ebor and could only manage a respectable fifth in York’s big handicap over the Leger trip, plenty of potential remains.
He was drawn widest of them all on the Knavesmire, very unhelpful for his preferred front-running tactics. That became obvious when young jockey Donnacha O’Brien needed to make an exaggerated move to the front of the pack.
Timeform’s David Johnson pointed out that to win the Ebor off his mark of 118 would have been some going…
Fields of Athenry running today from 3 lb higher than any horse has ever won a handicap in Britain from.
— David Johnson (@davidjohnsonTF) August 22, 2015
He remained a 10/1 shot for the Leger after than run, and remains an attractive proposition.
Aidan O’Brien’s colt has won both forays in Group or Listed company in some style, and could be the best value of the Ballydoyle battalion.
Prior to his fifth place in the Prix Du Jockey Club, the Qatar Racing-owned colt boasted an unbeaten record, with all victories coming at 1m2f.
He beat some useful types before taking in the Chantilly Group 1, but having to be switched out, his handler Francois Graffard feels he wasn’t seen to his best.
“He wasn’t really able to use his big stride, though once he got balanced he did produce good acceleration to finish fifth. I think with an uninterrupted run he would have finished in the first three.”
The winner New Bay and runner-up Highland Reel have both won decent races since, so the form looks strong and his handler’s comments bode well for Doncaster.
The long straight on Town Moor will undoubtedly suit the big galloping type, and if turning up, could become the seventh horse from across the Channel to take the oldest Classic of the lot.
It would take an upheaval of trends for David Lanigan’s horse to go close in the Leger, with the vast majority of placed horses over the last decade having at least tested their mettle in a Group race previously.
That hasn’t been the case for the son of Sea the Stars, who was last seen finishing second in a Pontefract handicap.
He will obviously need to step up for the extra four furlongs he would encounter at Doncaster, but the fact that he has been well supported in the market before every run suggests he is highly regarded.
He hung across the track on his last outing, potentially costing the colt the race, so it will be interesting to see if his handler opts for some headgear on his next outing.
With Aidan O’Brien holding more than half of the entries it could pay to be speculative with the race expected to cut up closer to the big day.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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