St Leger Preview 2020

By Samantha Martin

This weekend is full of mouth-watering races in England, Ireland and France with the fifth and final Classic of the season, the St Leger, being the feature race in England. This is what I’m going to focus on but further down the article I will be talking about Irish Champions Weekend and the group one races in France, as the Derby winner Serpentine is making his widely anticipated return to the racetrack.

The Pertemps St Leger is set to go off at 15:35. This group one is the longest of the Classics at one mile six furlongs and one hundred and fifteen yards. A classy field of eleven runners go to post with the absence of English King, who goes to the Grand Prix De Paris at Longchamp instead. It’s great to see so many Irish jockeys and horses coming over to ride in this. Ryan Moore is in Ireland for Irish Champions Weekend and partners Japan in the Champion Stakes.

Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore have three representatives with Frankie Dettori riding the first string, Santiago. This horse has never been out of the top three in his career or this season. He started out this year at Ascot in the Queens’ Vase over just short of this trip on soft ground. Then, he went to the Curragh eight days later and battled well to win by a head in the Irish Derby. Dawn Patrol was third and Sunchart eighth. Last time, Santiago stepped up into the big leagues and ran in the Goodwood Cup, but followed in Stradivarius and Nayef Road. I think this horse should be outright favourite. He’s got no stamina doubts and is an Irish Classic winner!

The other Aidan O’Brien runners are Dawn Patrol and Mythical. Dawn Patrol ran once as a two-year-old, finishing fourth to Sunchart. He was third in the Irish Derby, beaten five and a quarter lengths, and then won his maiden at Naas. Last time out, he was only beaten a length by Pista, who won a group two at Doncaster on Thursday, and Sunchart. Based on all this, Sunchart has the beating of Dawn Patrol – even though, at the time of writing this, Dawn Patrol is 16/1 and Sunchart is the 50/1 outsider! Sunchart followed in Santiago on his debut before his maiden win and he’s been running better than his odds have suggested for the most part at the age of three. His siblings have stayed this trip and it’s good to see the Andrew Slatterys heading over to England to run this horse here. Mythical is the other Aidan O’Brien horse and he gets the help of Derby winning jockey Emmett McNamara. This horse’s only win has been in a Gowran maiden on soft ground and he was well-beaten on his first start at three. The, he finished thirteenth in the Derby, which is one of many races that interlock these horses together.

We have three runners from the Derby trying to win this – Pyledriver (11th), Mohican Heights (12th) and Mythical (13th). Pyledriver has been one of the stories of the season for William Muir and his son-in-law Martin Dwyer. They couldn’t sell this horse at the sales and he’s proven everyone who turned him down wrong. He was two from four as a two-year-old and then he won the King Edward VII Stakes, beating Mohican Heights on his second two-year-old outing. In the Derby, he didn’t play a part but managed to win the Great Voltigeur by three and a half lengths, beating Berkshire Rocco and Subjectivist. That performance catapulted him to the top of the betting in this race and the only question mark for him is stamina. His dam never got black type and actually ran in four hurdle races for Phillip Hobbs so stamina is there. Mohican Heights started his career winning in May 2019 in Ireland and then went to Salisbury and won a listed race, beating Subjectivist. This season, he was third to Pyledriver at Royal Ascot then twelfth in the Derby. He’s related to two mile winner Eye Of The Storm and one mile six winner Curbyourenthusiasm so the trip should suit.

Subjectivist has already raced thirteen times. He won just the once at the age of two and started out this year in the King George V Handicap, one and a quarter lengths third to Hukum. He was second at Haydock in early July and went one place better at Hamilton in a listed event, making all. Next time, he was third at Goodwood in the Gordon Stakes but ran poorly in the Great Voltigeur, behind Pyledriver and Berkshire Rocco. To come here has always been the plan but they decided to go to the March Stakes in the meantime to confirm that the trip is suitable, which it is. He’ll probably make the running. Berkshire Rocco has been admirably consistent this season. He started his season coming second to English King in the Lingfield Derby Trial but never went to the big race. He ran at Royal Ascot over one mile six furlongs in the Queens’ Vase, behind Santiago. Last month, he was fourth to Pyledriver in the Great Voltigeur, over a trip that is too short in my opinion.

Hukum won at Royal Ascot in the King George V Handicap and then handled the step up to group three company at Newbury in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes, which he won well. He goes an extra half furlong in this and I get the impression that he will stay as he was keeping on very strongly in the latter race. With just four starts under his belt, he’s got a lot more to offer. A lot of people like this horse.

Tyson Fury is having just his second lifetime start. This horse is named after a boxing star and he’s looking to put in a knockout performance. His debut victory was here at Doncaster over one mile and four furlongs. He got weight from his rivals but the second won two outings later and the horse who finished third has won on both his starts since. He’s by Iffraj and out of Za Za Zoom. His half-sister Eirene is a classy, black type-winning filly over seven furlongs. He’s an exciting ride to pick up for Kieran Shoemark.

The horse who has been in the news is Galileo Chrome because his regular pilot Shane Crosse was meant to be coming over to ride him but, despite having no symptoms, was found to have coronavirus! I’m gutted for Shane as he’s a hugely talented and this is a great opportunity. The ride on this horse falls to Tom Marquand after he got jocked off English King (again) so Frankie Dettori can ride the horse in France. In my opinion, Tom has got the better end of the bargain. I doubt English King would’ve won the Leger and I’ll be very surprised if he won in France. Galileo Chrome, who is by Australia, won a maiden, beating the eventual Derby winner Serpentine, at the start of the season and then won by six lengths next time over one mile two. Last time, he was an easy winner over one mile five on soft ground so stamina is confirmed. His dam is a half-sister to Michelangelo, who was third to Encke and Camelot, who was ridden by his trainer Joseph O’Brien, in the thrilling 2012 St Leger. The horse is extremely progressive; Joseph’s yard is flying and I’m sure he would like to put the 2012 defeat behind him.

So, I’m going with SANTIAGO. I can’t believe this horse isn’t favourite! He’s been so impressive on his first two starts and I think people are being put off by last time. He was in the wrong position in the race and Stradivarius is a better horse. There is no doubt in my mind about Santiago’s staying ability. I think Galileo Chrome can fill in second place and don’t discount Sunchart at 50/1 – there’s my top three!

Irish Champions Weekend

The racing from Leopardstown on Saturday and the Curragh on Sunday is phenomenal. Despite being a group one, the Matron Stakes is the bridesmaid race to the Champion Stakes, where all eyes will be drawn to at 4:10 on Saturday. This race is just for the girls and it has attracted two good fillies from two of the O’Briens. Donnacha O’Brien runs Fancy Blue. She has won her last two start in France and at Goodwood in really nice style and she seems an honest filly. His father has Peaceful, who is the only horse to have ever crossed the line in front of Fancy Blue. That was in the Irish 1000 Guineas over the mile, which is the trip for this contest. This is the root of my decision to side with Peaceful. She was only beaten a quarter of a length in the French Oaks by Fancy Blue and they’re closely matched.

The feature event is the Champion Stakes, though, and it has attracted a high-class field of six. Heading them is Ghaiyyath. This horse has always been good but has been a revelation this season. He comes here searching for a fourth straight group one after his romp at York last time. He beat Magical convincingly that day and Ryan Moore has chosen to ride Japan instead of Magical. She is currently shorter in the betting than Japan, who hasn’t been the force of old this year. He’s smart on his day but I get the impression he is quite delicate. There has been money around for the French raider Sottsass and he won a group one in May, but was defeated in group three company last time out. Leo De Fury will be a big price and so will Armory. The latter horse could go up and try and hassle Ghaiyyath at the lead but I think Ghaiyyath shouldn’t react badly to it this year as he seems to have matured. I will be extremely shocked if he gets beaten.

On Sunday, there are four straight group one races for us to enjoy. The first of those is the Flying five Stakes for the speedsters. Fifteen runners go to post and there are eight English trained runners trying to win it. The majority of these are fillies – Que Amoro made Battaash work hard last time out; Glass Slippers won the Abbaye last year and followed in Battaash on her last two starts; Liberty Beach is classy on her day and Jason Hart goes over to ride and Keep Busy has been bought by Coolmore for her broodmare future. I think I’m going to side with Glass Slippers as she seems to come good at the backend of the season and a cut in the ground will be appreciated. I would like to see Make A Challenge win a group one for connections though.

Next, the Moyglare Stud Stakes is for the two-year-old fillies. One of my Twitter followers shared Pretty Gorgeous’ last win with me and I was really taken with it. She’s a really likeable Lawman filly and Joseph O’Brien’s yard is absolutely flying. This filly was beaten one and a quarter lengths by Shale and then next time she beat Shale by two and a half lengths. Ryan Moore rides Shale and Seamie Heffernan rides Mother Earth, who is so very consistent.

The group one National Stakes for the two-year-old colts looks a really intriguing race. Battleground heads the market as he has won in listed and group two company on his past two starts. Both starts have been very good and he’s the son of Found, who won the Arc. Master Of The Seas made a nice debut and then put daylight between himself and his rivals in a group two. He goes on all kind of ground. Lucky Vega won his maiden and then was second to Laws Of Indices in a group two. Next time, he won the group one Phoenix Stakes by over three lengths. Laws Of Indices finished third that day. Everything went a bit wrong for him that day – he unshipped his jockey on the way to the start; he broke slowly and he ran on very well to grab fourth. I don’t think his group two win was a fluke and he’s about a 20/1 shot which is huge.

The Irish St leger is the final group one. Eight runners go to post with Twilight Payment. He won a group three, making all, and then won the Curragh Cup by a huge eight lengths. He’s a really genuine horse. Fujaira Prince was a smart winner of the Ebor. For a six year old, he’s really unexposed, having ran eight times. He’s definitely group class. I do like this horse – but who doesn’t like a flashy grey? Micro Manage is a horse that Killian has liked for ages and ages. He won by twelve lengths in June 2019 and then wasn’t seen again until the trial for this race last month, finishing third. He was gelded in the meantime and this horse has a big future, on the flat and over jumps.

French Group Ones

France also has some top-notch racing to this Sunday. To put this into context, Stradivarius is running in a group two! He drops back to one mile four for this Arc Trial. However, there are three group one races on the card and two of them have English and Irish horses taking their chances. I’m very excited for the Grand Prix De Paris because Serpentine is back! Anyone who follows me on Twitter has probably seen tweets of me saying how much I loved the Derby this year. It was phenomenal. He beat Highland Chief, English King and Mogul and I don’t think any of them will reverse the form. Highland Chief could get a place after being very consistent.

There’s a group one for the fillies next and Ed Vaughan sends Dame Malliot and David Menusier sends Wonderful Tonight from England. The latter filly was a winner at Deauville last time out in a listed race and Dame Malliot won a group two at Newmarket on her penultimate start. Even So won the Irish Oaks and Ger Lyons’ horses aren’t running too badly. I think a French runner will take this, though, with Raabihah, who was fourth in the French Oaks and then won by three and a half lengths at Deauville. She has a very exciting future.

Enjoy the racing this week everyone! Also, keep your eyes on myself and Rein It In racing’s Twitter tonight as I’m visiting Nick Bradley’s yard this Sunday. As always, if there is any comments you have about my article – feel free to tweet me (@sam_angelina22). 🙂

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