Although the ante post betting for the final Classic of the British Flat season, the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster on 12 September, is dominated by Irish raiders, the home team have their own hopes.
Not all has gone to plan for horses from the Emerald Isle in this race in recent years. Bondi Beach was awarded the race in the stewards’ room in 2015 only for the original result to be reinstated on appeal, while odds-on favourite Idaho slipped up 12 months later.
Irish horses finished out of the frame last year too, so the British contingent can and do deliver. Which of the UK based contenders are worth considering for the world’s oldest Classic?
Any time that a three-year-old runs well or wins against their elders, they are worthy of respect. That is how the market has reacted to the classy victory of Owen Burrows’ Hukum in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.
What he lacked in experience after just three previous career starts, he more than made up for in talent with a ready victory over the 2019 Zetland Stakes scorer Max Vega. While the runner-up hails from the yard of St Leger winning trainer Ralph Beckett, progressive 7/1 chance Hukum represents owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum who could also run William Haggas’ Al Aasy in the race this year.
Lingfield Derby Trial winner English King hasn’t run up to market expectations on his two most recent outings. Given what happened in The Derby itself, there were excuses for his fifth-place finish at Epsom Downs.
If punters are feeling charitable, then the Ed Walker trained Camelot colt’s fourth in the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood can also be forgiven. English King was short of room inside the final furlong but staying on and that suggests the step up in trip won’t be a problem for him.
Owner Bjorn Nielsen was desperate to win The Derby with this horse, but will settle for St Leger success. In the latest MBet horse racing odds on the event, English King is a 10/1 shot.
John Gosden has been the best British trainer in recent St Leger history with three winners since 2010, so Qatar Racing’s Darain won’t be a double figure price if able to win the Great Voltigeur at York en route to Doncaster. A big step up on his bare form is called for, but the same handler used this path with last year’s winner Logician.
After winning novice events at Newbury and Newmarket, Darain falls into the could be anything category. Any emulation of his stable companion’s success at the Ebor Festival will result in St Leger odds of 11/1 shortening up quickly.
Yorkshire Dales trainer Mark Johnston had two horses placed on Town Moor last year, so that makes Dante Stakes scorer Thunderous of obvious interest each-way at 14/1. Connections now have to decide whether they feel he will get the St Leger trip.
It will be interesting to see if Thunderous is tried over further. Johnston used the March Stakes at Goodwood to see if last year’s St Leger second Sir Ron Priestley had the Class to be a Classic contender, so keeping an eye out to see if an entry is made there again is advised.