Stars align for Storm in the St Leger
The St Leger at Doncaster is the oldest, and final, British Classic of the season and this year’s running sees the offspring of former Epsom Derby winners as the leading contenders.
Order Of St George is the ante-post favourite for the race with the likes of 32red.com, bwin and Bet Victor, but it’s a tightly-packed betting market. You can visit 32red on mobile here for a full list of prices on the race, but it would be no surprise to see a change in the favourite before the off.
Aidan O’Brien could saddle half the field in the 14-furlong contest, but there are probably just three to concentrate on, all of whom were sired by Galileo.
Order Of St George promoted himself to favouritism on the back of winning the Irish St Leger Trial at the Curragh last time. He has relished the step up in trip in his last three starts after showing only average form prior to that. He was beaten a short head by Bondi Beach in the Curragh Cup before winning easily at Down Royal and again last time. He is clearly a fascinating contender, but it’s hard to say his form justifies his position at the head of the market.
Bondi Beach is also from the O’Brien yard and has had just four runs in his career. He belied his inexperience to get the better of the battle with Order Of St George in the Curragh Cup on just his third start and he was then second in the Great Voltigeur at York last time. Brian Boru finished second in that race for O’Brien before going on to win the St Leger in 2003.
O’Brien’s other prime contender is Fields Of Athenry, who also ran at York’s Ebor Festival in August. However, he finished fifth in the Ebor Handicap and, while the trip won’t be a problem, his form isn’t quite as strong as that of his stablemates.
The main British hope is Storm The Stars, whose sire Sea The Stars won the first two legs of the British Triple Crown – the 2000 Guineas and Derby – but was never in contention to run in the St Leger due to the distance. However, a combination of Sea The Stars and the dam gives Storm The Stars a strong chance of staying the trip. He beat Bondi Beach, somewhat controversially, in the Great Voltigeur last time. Certainly, if the race had been run in the States, he would have lost it given the way he hung across the track. However, he did appear to be getting back on top in the closing stages, which suggests he will enjoy running over an extra two furlongs. He deserves to win a Classic after finishing third in the Epsom Derby and second in the Irish Derby.
Mr Singh is by 2002 Derby winner High Chaparral and heads into the race fresh after not running since July following a facile win in the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket over a furlong shorter than the Leger trip. He has improved with every race and will hope for a soft lead out in front, but he does have ground to make up on Storm The Stars on their running at Goodwood earlier in the year.
Only Galileo of the three Derby winners has sired a St Leger winner, which was Sixties Icon in 2006, but the form indicates that Storm The Stars can take the final leg of the Triple Crown to add to the two won by his father.