St Leger Preview 2019

PrintBy Samantha

The final classic of the season is upon us. We’ve seen Magna Grecia and Hermosa take the honours in the Guineas for the maestro Aidan O’Brien; Anapurna win the Oaks, giving Frankel a first classic; Anthony Van Dyck get up just in time to land the Derby but who will add their name to the 2019 Classic Role Of Honour?? Well, hopefully I can shed some light onto that for you.

Anything can happen in horse racing and that was shown when 4/6 favourite Idaho tripped up and unseated Seamie Heffernan, leaving the 22/1 chance Harbour Law to win. Logician may squeeze into odds-on on the day for one of the great combinations in sport- Frankie Dettori and John Gosden. The Frankel colt burst into the St Leger scene when winning the fourth start of his career. The race was the Great Voltiger and he had Nayef Road behind. He was running on at the finish that day and he’s been gently treated up to this point by Gosden. The big grey one mile four easily that day and in July and Frankels do stay quite well so I don’t think he’ll have a problem there. However, it is interesting to note that Gosden was reported to say that the trip is his biggest worry – not the firm ground. For a big heavy horse, that’s a bit surprising but we have to trust that the trainer knows best and hope that the horse comes back sound and ready to go again next year as he’s definitely one for the future!

Aidan O’Brien has won the last two renewals with Capri and Kew Gardens and this year the Irishman has three runners. Sir Dragonet is just as exposed as Logician but he has been competing at a higher level. This colt by Camelot, who was second in this in 2012, built on a successful Tipperary debut with a victory in the Chester Vase, with Dashing Willoughby and Technician in third and fifth respectively. Then he was faced with the toughest task of them all- the unique Epsom Derby. This was on a firmer surface and he appeared to handle it. He was in the lead and only just got headed in the final furlong, ending up fifth. He couldn’t blast them all off like at Chester that day. Since then, he’s been fourth in a group three at the Curragh. He didn’t have the acceleration required for one mile two and, based on his breeding, he will get this trip. He shares a sire with Latrobe, who came second over one mile six, and Sir Erec, who won a grade one over two miles. The ground could be a slight worry but Donnacha was complementary.

The second string is Il Paradiso. This vibrant chestnut didn’t seem very special as it took him four tries to win, three of them were at two. He kept on over one mile four for his maiden victory and was very out of his depth over the same trip in the Irish Derby. He won over two miles by twelve lengths on his penultimate start so the trip won’t be an issue. Last time, he gave Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee a proper race and only got beaten just over a length in the Lonsdale Cup. He could’ve been a bit flattered as Stradivarius only does enough, Dee Ex Bee is no where up to his standard and Il Paradiso was getting lots of weight but there is no doubt he stays. I think he has a really good chance for Paddy Beggy, who won the Derby on Wings Of Eagles.

Western Australia is the other O’Brien runner and Michael Hussey comes over to take the reins. He’s been kept in high company since a good maiden victory at Gowran but has only come good once since then. That was at Navan over one mile five. He was twelfth if thirteenth in the Queens Vase when Dashing Willoughby won and Nayef Road came third. He has a lot to find. He’s the pacemaker, I’d assume, and they’ll be hoping to set a brisk pace as they know Il Paradiso stays further and they think Sir Dragonet will but Logician may not.

William Buick will be hoping to get back on the group one score sheet after time off with a head injury and he partners the Royal Ascot winner Dashing Willoughby. Oisin Murphy has rode him on all bar one of his starts but, like Ryan Moore, is over at Leopardstown so Buick gets on for the first time. The horse was third to Sir Dragonet over one mile four at Chester then bypassed the Derby in favour of the Queens Vase. He stayed the trip well but I would have thought he needs the cut in the ground like that day. His last two starts have been on good or harder and he wasn’t beaten far at Newmarket in a race too short and found two miles two long, behind Stradivarius. Collateral form puts him behind Il Paradiso.

Nayef Road has been a busy boy, running seven times this year so far. The heavy campaign is typical of a Mark Johnston in mate. He’s come good twice in those runs and won the Qatar Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, with Technician sixth. The defeat by Dashing Willoughby was his only try at this trip, which he did stay, but 40/1 explains his chances.

His stablemate is Sir Ron Priestley. He’s a typical Mark Johnston improver. He just keeps winning. And, if he’s caught in a ding-dong battle, I’d be surprised if he didn’t come out the winner. His only blip has been at Royal Ascot but he then won a one mile six handicap, one mile three handicap at Glorious Goodwood and the one mile six March Stakes at Goodwood. He handled the step up to class one company and he had more weight than most of them but still won convincingly. His dam won here on debut and I wouldn’t be surprised if he placed for one of my favourite jockeys Franny Norton.

Last but not least is Technician. He won on his second start at Leicester and then came second in the Classic Trail. He was well beaten by Sir Dragonet at Chester but then won a listed race at ParisLongchamp. That was on soft ground and I think he can only run to his true ability on that surface. His run behind Nayef Road at Glorious Goodwood came on good but his ultra impressive victory came at this trip and on soft last time. That showed him in a new light but this won’t be his day to shine.

A lot of these have ground issues but one of them has to win it. I think I’m going to have to go with IL PARADISO. I was impressed with last time and he may have been flattered by how close he got to Stradivarius but I like him. I’m hoping Western Australia goes on, makes it a proper test and sets it up perfectly for this boy. Sir Dragonet will probably place as I don’t think the trip will be a problem. Logician has the enticing profile and he’s definitely one for the future.


R1- A Momentofmadness
R2- Shine So Bright
R3- Juan Elcano
R5- Kingbrook
R6- Qaysar
R7- The Trader

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