Aidan O’Brien still had 12 potential runners in the St Leger earlier this week so the horse or horses he runs must have shown him something on the gallops. He trains Capri who is his best hope of winning the final Classic of the season for the fifth time but Stradivarius may be too good for his runners and the rest of the field.
The St Leger is run over one mile six furlongs at Doncaster and is the oldest Classic in the world. Fillies are eligible to run and receive a 3 pounds weight allowance but none are due to run this year. As befitting a championship race each horse carries nine stone so the best horse should prevail.
In theory Capri has the best form as a three-year-old and will be a tough nut to track. On ratings the horse deserves a prominent place in the betting and the distance should not be an issue. Capri bear Cracksman by a neck in the Irish Derby and Wings Of Eagles, who won the English version at Epsom, was a further short head adrift. Wings Of Eagles has been retired but Cracksman has franked the form.
That horse won impressively at the York Ebor meeting and then won a trial for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Cracksman is only behind Enable in ante post betting for the Arc but may be put away for next season and miss the race. However, the form is in the book and in theory Capri is the best three-year-old colt in Britain and Ireland. However, form is not an exact science and Capri looks vulnerable to an unexposed runner which could turn out to be Crystal Ocean.
The horse will take the beating as he was impressive at Goodwood in winning a Group 3 race. Crystal Ocean was placed at Royal Ascot at a higher level. However, the St Leger involves a step up in distance and the horse is not proven at 14 furlongs. The horse improves with each run so he could take his form to a new level in the St Leger. Crystal Ocean could just as easily struggle at the distance so others are preferred.
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Defoe is very much the unknown quantity at the highest level. Conditions should suit but he could not get the trip and the St Leger is more about stamina than speed. Raheen House has form with Crystal Ocean and looks overpriced to make the payout places but cannot win on all known form. The unknown factor is the horses O’Brien runs but one runner could be too good for his contingent.
Stradivarius stays well and has the class required to win a Classic, at Group 1 level. The horse is proven at the distance and further and would relish a test of stamina. The final furlong on the long Doncaster straight is to get but Stradivarius could be coming into his own at this stage and can win the 2017 St Leger Stakes.
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The St Leger Festival’s flagship day brings the four days to a dramatic climax. The biggest day of the week and home to the World’s oldest Classic, the St Leger Stakes. The showpiece race consistently attracts some of the leading stables across the country and boasts a glittering roll of honour which is littered with some of the most acclaimed horses in history.
The British ‘Classics’ are five races known as the most prestigious in the horse racing calendar – the 2000 and 1000 Guineas start the season off at Newmarket, before the Derby and Oaks at Epsom in June. The Doncaster highlight forms the final leg of the Classic British ‘Triple Crown’ – an accolade last claimed in 1970 by Nijinsky.
A well-known racing saying states that “The fastest horse wins the Guineas; the luckiest the Derby – and the best horse wins the St Leger.” See the best on Town Moor this September.
Header image courtesy of Doncaster Race Course