Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Ladbrokes St. Leger

The Ladbrokes St. Leger

By Stephen Dwyer

It is the oldest of the classics. First run in 1776, the same year that The United States declared their independence, the St. Leger  is also the longest of Britain’s five classic races. Sponsored by Ladbrokes since 2005, the St. Leger is run at Doncaster over a distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 132 yards.
The 2012 renewal of the St. Leger takes place on Saturday September 15th. .This year’s race is centred around a rare event, a bid for the Triple Crown. The unbeaten Ballydoyle colt, Camelot is attempting to become the first horse since Nijinsky to win the 2000 Guineas, Derby and St. Leger. The Triple Crown has eluded many top class racehorses since it was last won in 1970 and it has become a rare occurrence for a horse to attempt it nowadays. Almost out of fashion, there is a tendency from top yards to target other races.
Most recently Sea The Stars, who won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2009 opted for the Juddmonte International, the Irish Champion Stakes, and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe instead of the St. Leger route. Remember Sea The Stars is only the second horse since Nashwan in 1988 to have won the Guineas-Derby double so this in itself is a rarity. Expect the hype machine to kick into overdrive as Camelot attempts to make history by becoming the first colt to win the triple crown this century.
Currently available at a best priced 1/2 for the St. Leger, Camelot was always that bit special. He was bred by Sheik Abdulla Bin Isa Al-Khalifa from the Sheik’s own mare Tarfah. By Montjeu, Camelot was sold for 525,000 guineas at the Tattersalls October sales in 2010. Demi O’Byrne, bloodstock agent for Coolmore acquired the colt and he is now unbeaten in all five starts. Already a winner over a mile and 1m 4f, Camelot has plenty of stamina on his dam’s side. Tarfah won the Snowdrop stakes and the Group 3 Dahlia stakes and the colt is fully expected to stay the extended 1m 6f trip at Doncaster.
It was only after the Derby win that Camelot’s connections copper-fastened an assault on the Triple Crown. John Magnier noted “ We’re all getting older and somehow these things start to mean a little more”. Yet for all the confidence behind Camelot, the race is still a classic and one that is never easily won. Shergar was beaten in the St. Leger, and although Nijinsky won it comfortably, the race settled from two furlongs out , Camelot is out of the same top drawer. After his heavy ground win in the Irish Derby, Hayley O'Connor of St. Leger sponsor Ladbrokes said: "Conditions were far from ideal yet Camelot still managed to impress us and on better ground his St Leger performance could be even more spectacular.”
The St. Leger can be a gruelling test of stamina and Aidan O’ Brien has given Camelot a break since his Irish Derby win and will run fresh at Doncaster. As short as 1/4 in places at one point, Camelot’s price has improved in recent weeks but he is still very cramped odds for the final classic of the season.
Those vying to upset the Coolmore champion include Great Heavens, Shantaram and Main Sequence. Owned by Lady Rothschild, Great Heavens is a sister to Nathaniel and is a well-finished daughter of Galileo. A winner of four of her five starts she suffered her sole defeat on her racecourse debut when running green. Great Heavens then made all the running to win cosily in the Listed Lord Weinstock Memorial Stakes at Newbury in June before employing similar tactics in the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks, a race she won by 8 lengths as favourite. Her latest run on heavy ground at the Curragh saw her stay on strongly in the final furlong to win the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks, beating all local challengers including Epsom Oaks heroine Was. Great Sequence is hovering around the 7/1 mark for the St. Leger and with William Buick on board and a valuable 3lb fillies allowance, she is likely to race prominently and provide Camelot with plenty to think about.
Trained by John Gosden, who is going for a third St. Leger win in a row, Shantaram is stablemate to Great Heavens. By Galielo and out of All’s Fogotten, a Darshaan mare, Shantaram is a full brother to Gan Amhras. The colts most notable win was in July at Newmarket when staying on well in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket. Run over 1m 5f, Shantaram handled the soft ground just fine and will appreciate any cut in the ground at Doncaster where he has been supported into 9/1 from 12/1.
By Aldebaran a former champion sprinter, Main Sequence has already run against Camelot. Following a narrow win in the Group 3 Derby Trial at Lingfield, Main Sequence finished second to Camelot in the Investec Derby at Epsom. He quickened well enough but could not live with the eventual winner. Trained by David Lanigan in Lambourn, Main Sequence            will get the green light for the St. Leger if he runs well in the Great Voltigeur. After finishing fourth in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris, his trainer was asked about his St. Leger hopes and replied "You never know if they will get that sort of trip [1m6½f] but he relaxes well and would give himself every chance. All he did in France last time was stay". Before last year’s St. Leger, 4 of 10 winners of the St. Leger ran in the Derby, finishing 0274 at Epsom, Camelot though has much more in reserve than these contenders. Of interest too is that there have been only 2 winners of the race priced above 8/1 in past 15 years. Time will tell but Camelot seems unstoppable in his bid for the Triple Crown. The first Triple Crown in forty two years may become one of the most memorable.

 Copyright - Betview Magazine - September issue 2012.


  1. Details of Labdroke’s sponsorship

  1. Odds comparison to ascertain the best odds for entries.

  1. Quote : Hayley O’ Connor – Ladbrokes.

  1. List of British Triple Crown Winners:

  1. Camelot’s pedigree

  1. Nijinsky’s St. Leger win- 1970

  1. Aldebran – Sire Details

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