Ladbrokes St. Leger, Group 1, 1 mile 6 furlongs, Doncaster Saturday 14th September, 2013
This years’ St. Leger looks like having the smallest field for a few years and it does not look as if it is going to be over competitive with probably the front three in the betting having the best claims.
Excess Knowledge has a lot of improvement to make to win this and he has been over bet since Pricewise in the Racing Post tipped him a few weeks ago. He will undoubtedly improve again but I think it is planned to give him a run at York in two weeks, which might be too close to the big race.
Galileo Rock is the current market leader and is very consistent but for me lacks the spark required to win this and that is supposing he shows up. David Wachman is a canny trainer and if he turns up on the day is likely to place.
Leading Light was one of the best backed horses at the Royal Meeting when winning the Queen’s Vase. It was a one horse book as he was forced down from 9/4 into 5/4, and the bookies took a terrible beating. Mind you those who had backed him would have thought about tearing up their betting slip; first when Disclaimer breezed to the front rounding the home turn, and second when Feel Like Dancing headed Leading Light at the furlong pole (when they traded at 1.11 and 10.53 respectively).
But Leading Light is tough and notoriously lazy; however both times Joseph O’Brien asked for more he found plenty. As a son of Montjeu I wouldn’t expect him to be totally straightforward, and the ground would have been plenty fast for him as Montjeu’s offspring usually like a bit of juice in the turf. This race over 2 miles was also a big step up in trip, having only been 10f the previous time we saw him. Mind you after that win Joseph O’Brien said he’d be happy to run him over any distance as he felt they all are the same to him…. he was even seen as a possible for the Irish Derby!
Although he has only won so far at Group 3 level, you would definitely have to think that there is more to come, and he must have every chance of going close in the St Leger if he turns up, which I think he will. If it is a small field he will probably get the chance to dictate the pace and wind it up from the front which will suit him. The 6-1 price is generally available, but interestingly Ladbrokes which probably has the best line into the O’Brien stable go shortest at 4/1 favourite.
Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, Group 1, 1 mile 4 furlongs, Longchamp, Sunday 6th October
The Arc is not looking quite as competitive as usual with the winner likely to come from the first four in the betting Flintshire, Novellist, Al Kazeem and Orfevre.
The latter two named may not even run with Al Kazeem preferring quicker ground than likely in Paris (he also may go to Ascot for the Champions Stakes instead) and Orfevre having suffered an early season injury. If Orfevre turns up fit and well I shall probably have a saver on him on the day, but I doubt that he will be risked.
Flintshire has done nothing wrong and has the added advantage of coming from the all-conquering stable of Andre Fabre. I have no doubt that he still has improvement to come and is a real threat to our selection, but he lacks the experience of Novellist.
Novellist was very impressive at Ascot winning the King George in a course record time on quick ground. However unlike Al Kazeem he also handles soft just as well and can show his class to win Germany’s second Arc of recent years.
The only concern I will have about Novellist is if he was to be given a wide draw, which is effectively a kiss of death and that is why I have kept his stake to a modest level. If he is around the 5-1 mark on the day I am likely to advise another 2 points as long as his draw is good and Orfevre stays in Japan.