Thursday, August 25, 2011

17 Remain In St Leger Field

The field for the final Classic of the season, the Doncaster St Leger, to be run on September 10th was reduced to just 17 runners in the latest declaration stage.

Race sponsors Ladbrokes have installed the Sir Michael Stoute trained Sea Moon as the 11/8 favourite for the race which is run over 1m 6f and for which the trainer saddled his first winner of the race just two years ago with Conduit.

Judged on his performance in the Group Two Great Voltigeur Stakes at York during the Ebor Festival last week, Sea Moon is a worthy favourite having won by 8 lengths in one of the best performances seen by in the horse racing world season. He beat a top quality field which included Seville runner up in the Irish Derby and who started the race as the 5/6 odds on jolly but who could only manage third place more than ten lengths behind the winner.

Despite the defeat, Seville is also included in the St Leger field and looks likely to be the main representative of Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle stable, particularly as Irish Derby winner, Treasure Beach as well as Memphis Tennessee were amongst a total of 19 scratched from the race. O’Brien however has kept his Epsom Oaks runner up, Wonder Of Wonders in the race.

Irish and Yorkshire Oaks winner Blue Bunting has also been kept in the race by Godolphin and she has been made the second favourite with odds of around the 9/2 mark. Should she win she will become the 42nd filly to have won the race and the first since User Friendly in 1992. She would also be claiming a third Classic win of the year after her Oaks success and her win in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket at the beginning of the season.

Census trained by Richard Hannon will almost certainly line up for the race, particularly after his excellent win in the Group Three Geoffrey Freer Stakes over 1m5f at Newbury a fortnight ago. In that race he had one time St Leger favourite, Brown Panther in second place and proved conclusively that the extra furlong at Doncaster should present no real problem.

Brown Panther still hold an entry and confidence remains high that he can get back to winning ways despite his defeat by Census and his fifth place achieved in the German Derby last month. Should he win he will provide the partnership of trainer Tom Dascombe and owner Michael Owen of their first Classic winner .

John Gosden who has trained two St Leger winners in the last four years, including Arctic Cosmos 12 months ago will be represented by his Group Three Bahrain Trophy winner Masked Marvel for this key race in the racing fixtures. Not seen since that win in early July, which was over 1m5f it is noteworthy that he had Census just a head behind him that day. He clearly should not be ignored as a potential winner this year and is currently a best price of 12/1 to win the race.

Other notables scratched from the St Leger include Nathaniel, winner of the King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last month and Fiorente, runner up in the Group Three Gordon Stakes at Goodwood at the end of July.

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