He may not have quite the stranglehold on the market he did at one stage when boasting six of the 11 entrants, but with three of the eight left in the Ladbrokes St Leger Aidan O’Brien is in a pretty strong position.
Chasing a fifth success in the final Classic of the season the Irish champion trainer’s trio all occupy the top half of the betting, at no bigger price than 7/1.
But with a trainer that so often has seen his less-fancied runners finish above the supposed stable string, it’s worth delving deeper into his three representatives this year.
Order of St George – 9/4
After competing at no further than 1m1f last season it appears that a step up in trip has been the making of the son of Galileo, winning twice and going down by a short head on reappearance in his three starts.
Each run has seen even more improvement, with his latest effort making the most of a weight-for-age allowance to brush aside the useful campaigners of Ascot Gold Cup runner-up Kingfisher and form Hardwicke Stakes hero Sea Moon.
While he won an arbitrary contest at Down Royal on good to firm ground in July his handler has stated that he likes to get his toe in, so with no rain forecast between now and the race condition may not be ideal for him.
Bondi Beach – 3/1
His stable-mate may want some cut in the ground to be at his best, but the drier the better for stable’s apparent second string.
Aidan O’Brien described how “the better the ground, the better it should suit” his colt after he went down a gallant second to Leger antepost favourite Storm the Stars in the Great Voltigeur at York.
He just got the better of Order of St George in June over the big race trip, but with that run being his stable-mates first outing in eight months it can be taken with a pinch of salt.
Doing all his running over at least 1m4f can be taken one of two ways. Either it confirms that he has the stamina to sustain an end-to-end gallop, or it could put some off with worries over whether he has the turn of pace to cope in the latter stages.
Fields of Athenry – 7/1
A big run in the Ebor Handicap of a hefty weight cannot be underestimated, especially as nothing went particularly right for the colt.
He was drawn widest of them all, not ideal in general, but for a definite front-runner it was a recipe for disaster.
Bustled up for the lead in a swooping move, it was only the latter stages that his earlier move told, as he faded back into fifth.
Prior to that he was a sublime winner of a Listed race, before taking the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown.
He needs to step again, but with the trip perfect, the ability to handle a variety of grounds and he could be a dark horse.
It’s fair to say there is not a lot between O’Brien’s representatives, with Order of St George the most impressive winner last time out, Bondi Beach already proving he can serve it up to the fancied runners and Fields of Athenry overcoming adversity in the Ebor to run a big race.
On a value line, Bondi Beach has proved a stout stayer on ground he may not particularly enjoyed on the Knavesmire, and having already got the better of the favourite, gets the nod.
The outsider of the three is intriguing, but needs to prove that the Ebor race wasn’t his limited and was more to do with how the race was run.
As always though, it would take a brave man to dismiss any of O’Brien’s runners out of hand.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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