Tuesday, October 18, 2011

St Leger Preview

St Leger Preview

By Stephen Dwyer

First run in 1776, the same year that the United States declared their independence, the St. Leger is the last and longest of the classics. The race is open to entire colts and filles and takes place tomorrow at Doncaster over 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 132 yards. The 2011 renewal carries an attractive purse of £500,000 and the nine that go to post are as follows.

Brown Panther
(Trained by Tom Dascombe Jockey Kieran Fallon Current odds 10/1)
Owned by footballer Michael Owen, Brown Panther stayed on strongly to win The King George V Stakes winner at Royal Ascot. The St. Leger has been a target since that victory but his last two runs have been below par. He finished fifth in the German Derby was was beaten by Census last time out. Despite the best efforts of jockey Kieran Fallon, a Group 1 may be out of his reach at the present time.

(Trained by John Gosden Jockey Robert Havlin Current odds 66/1)
John Gosden has trained the winner of two of the last four St. Legers but Buthelezi was well held behind Census and Brown Panther last time out in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes. He did win a Class 2 Nemarket Handicap in May over 1m 2 furlongs but his line of form gives little chance in such a competitive classic.

(Trained by Richard Hannon Jockey Richard Hughes Current odds 5/1)
Richard Hannon is a trainer enjoying a very fine run of form lately, his strike rate over the past two weeks is hovering around the 20% mark and he has a live chance in the race with Census. Census finished second to Brown Panther in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot and was subsequently runner-up in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket. He then improved to beat Brown Panther last time out in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. Census is a serious improver (up twenty pounds since the start of the season). He has a lot on his plate as is giving away nine pounds on official racing to Blue Bunting. The horse is consistent though and will be thereabouts in the shake up.

Genius Beast
(Trained by M Al Zarooni Jockey S De Sousa Current odds 50/1)
Out of a Sinndar mare, Genius Beast is one of three Godolphin runners in the field. He was a surprise winner of a Classic Trial at Sandown in April but failed to justify favouritism in the €130,000 Group 2 Prix Hocquart at Longchamp. He is a likely pacemaker for Godolphin's better hopes.

Masked Marvel
(Trained by John Gosden Jockey William Buick Current odds 7/1)
An impressive winner of the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood, Masked Marvel beat Census by a head last time out at Newmarket despite hanging left inside the final furlong. He finished eighth in the Epsom Derby and the trip up in distance will suit. By Montjeu, he cuts an impressive figure and has an each way chance for the trainer and jockey combination who won this race last year.

Sea Moon
(Trained by Sir Michael Stoute Jockey O Peslier Current odds 11/8)
Sea Moon has run just four times in his career to date. Losing just once (by a short head first time out) he is a winner of a handicap over one mile and two furlongs on the Knavesmire and the Great Voltigeur Stakes by a widening 8 lengths over 1 mile 4 furlongs . Michael Stoute has noted "It's the most competitive Leger we've had for many years." but is bullish about the chances of Sea Moon. "He's got a proper Leger pedigree, his three-parts brother (Brian Boru) won the race so you'd be hopeful that stamina wouldn't be a problem." If Sean Moon relishes the step up in trip again then he might steal a march on the field. Jockey Olivier Peslier takes the ride for the first time and he is an intruiging runner, albeit at very short odds.

(Trained by Aidan O' Brien Jockey Joseph O' Brien Current odds 8/1)
Second four times from seven races, including second to Carlton House in the Dante Stakes, Seville has won just once when odds-on in a weak race in Ireland. He was fancied in the Derby but finished well down the field. The Galileo colt is still seeking his first major win and although 5 lbs better off than Blue Bunting on ratings, may well have to settle for minor honours again tomorrow.

Blue Bunting
(Trained by M Al Zarooni Jockey L Dettori Current odds 7/2)
The stable have won this race twice over the past seven years and Frankie Dettori loves the Leger. Blue Bunting goes into the race having taken the 1,000 Guineas and the Irish Oaks and is a filly with a very real chance of adding another Group 1 to that collection. Officially rated the highest in the field and receiving a weight allowance, Blue Bunting is a has class and stamina in abundance. Simon Crisford, racing manager to Godoplhin quips "She is very tough- she gives everything she has though she wins her races by a narrow margin."

(Trained by Saeed bin Suroor Jockey Richard Hills Current odds 100/1)
Remember Maroof who won the QEII at 66/1 in 1994 ? How about Summoner in 2001 at odds of 33/1 ? Both pacemakers, just like Rumh who was supplemented at a late stage for the race. His main task is to provide pacemaking duties for Blue Bunting but Rumh is a filly without a hugely impressive closing kick and her odds of 100/1 are a reflection of her chances.

Sea Moon is very lightly raced but a high class sort. The Stoute stable finally won the St. Leger with Conduit in 2008 but he had followed a busier campaign. Sea Moon's win in the Great Voltigeur was impressive and if he holds this form he wins. The odds of Sea Moon are very cramped and BLUE BUNTING is selected to take the race with Frankie Dettori on board this outstanding, resolute filly.

11/8 Sea Moon
7/2 Blue Bunting
5/1 Census
8/1 Masked Marvel
8/1 Seville
10/1 Brown Panther
33/1 Wonder Of Wonders
66/1 Genius beast
66/1 Buthelezi
100/1 Freedom
100/1 Rumh

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