THERE are three Group One races on Saturday. In years gone by the St Leger would have knocked spots off anything else. The undoubted highlight. But this year’s race is in danger of being comprehensively overshadowed by the Irish Champion Stakes with Golden Horn and possibly Gleneagles lining up (unless, of course, the Ballydoyle “lads” spot a bit of moisture in the ground). The days of the Triple Crown being the Holy Grail for three-year-olds seem to be long gone. There are other riches to target and a dearth of interest in breeding middle-distance champions.
St Leger day used to feel special with an air of drama. Remember Oh So Sharp, Dunfermline, Commanche Run? Alas, no more. There will be a maximum field of just eight following yesterday’s confirmation stage. One possibility for the paucity of the turnout is the proximity of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on October 4. Three weeks isn’t enough time for a thoroughbred to recover from the grind of a 1m 6f St Leger and be expected to cut a dash at Longchamp. Maybe the Leger should be a bit earlier or the Arc a bit later? What we’re left with is a race that is sadly losing its lustre.
However, the presence of one horse at least guarantees my interest. I love STORM THE STARS. I love his guts, his courage and his willingness to give 100%. I was delighted when he kept the Great Voltigeur. He may have been a bit lucky to keep the race but if any horse deserved a break it’s this fellow following his placings in the Epsom and Irish derbies.
I think he’ll win on Saturday and confirm form with his York adversary Bondi Beach. If it becomes a battle then you’d want to be in the camp of Storm The Stars.
Order of St George is coming to the boil at the right time and heads the St Leger betting. But he has already been beaten by Bondi Beach and I couldn’t have him at the price. If there are eight runners then Vengeur Masque might be worth an each-way tinkle as he looks the only real unexposed horse in the race.
With a warm week forecast, surely there will be no excuses for Gleneagles not lining up on Saturday. The ground should be quick enough which means shock Juddmonte winner Arabian Queen is unlikely to line up. Free Eagle and The Grey Gatsby add more quality to the race but I will be gutted and surprised if Golden Horn fails to get back to winning ways before his swansong in the Arc.
And I will be thrilled if Amazing Maria can win another Group One in the Matron Stakes for the remarkable David O’Meara. She may have to overcome Legatissimo but she could find her out over a mile.