| Defoe Expected to Score in Final Classic
of the Campaign at St
|In many ways, Septembers St
Leger Festival brings the curtain down on the flat racing campaign. There are
meetings to follow, but none will deliver the quality of racing not
least the oldest Classic in the sport that the Doncaster
showcase has to offer.
The festival, which this year will take place
from September 13-16, is a historic affair that hosts two of the most iconic
races on the flat. Fridays Doncaster Cup is the oldest race currently run
under the Official Rules of Horse Racing, while Saturdays headline act
the St Leger Stakes is the most storied of the British Classics
and the third leg of the Triple Crown, which also features the 2000 Guineas and
perspective, the St Leger Stakes is the obvious standout of the meeting.
Only three-year-old thoroughbreds and fillies are eligible to enter this 1m 6f
renewal, and the history books have shown a pattern of outsiders taking the
glory at Doncaster. That might sound like good news for the bookmakers, but
keen-eyed punters can make the most of some interesting betting angles to
The 22/1 fancy Harbour Law is the reigning champion. Trained
by the first woman to clinch a Classic, Laura Mongan, he took full advantage
after the bookies favourite, Idaho, took a tumble and unseated his rider.
It was a moment that saved the sportsbooks
estimated £5m in payouts.
History was also made in the St
Leger 12 months earlier when Simple Verse (8/1) became the first filly in 23
years to take the honours. It was a renewal not short of controversy, however,
as Ralph Becketts charge was demoted following a stewards inquiry
which found her guilty of interference.
The case went all the way to the
British Horse Racing Authoritys appeals procedure, with Simple Verse
eventually reinstated over second-placed Bondi Beach (2/1).
theres a lot for the 2017 renewal to live up to. Who should ante-post
bettors be keeping an eye on?
Defoe (current price:
Roger Varian is a former winning trainer of the St Leger thanks to
his 2014 entry Kingston Hill; fast forward three years and the Newmarket based
handler could have another champion on his hands.
Defoe, a three-year-old colt rather than the Bournemouth and
England striker, has been outstanding in his short career to date, winning five
of his six starts and improving tangibly in 2017.
As an 8/1 hopeful he
eclipsed the bookmakers favourite, Mucho Applause (7/2), in the London
Gold Cup Handicap, and in his last outing at the tail-end of July he triumphed
in the EBF Glasgow Stakes at a BHA mark of 104.
Bred from Dalakhani, a
four-time Group One winner, Defoe could have a chance to establish his St Leger
credentials in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury in August, and a victory
there will see this 11/1 ante-post price plummet.
The current favourite with the sportsbooks is Capri, one of the
latest proteges from the all-conquering Aidan OBrien yard.
Irishman has four St Leger titles to his name but only one in the past decade,
so a return to winning ways at Doncaster is long overdue for the champion
The spawn of Galileo took a step up in trip to 12f in the
Derby, and while that didnt quite work out for him a return home to
Curragh for the Irish Derby certainly did; he took the honours by just a neck
That victory was something of a grind however, and with
just one win in his last five starts any punters will be wondering if that 7/2
rice is justifiable.
Crystal Ocean (4/1)
The Gordon Stakes is
usually a good indicator of form heading into the final stretch of the flat
racing season, and the manner in which
Crystal Ocean took the spoils in that renewal earlier in
August suggests he is one to watch at Doncaster.
Four outings in 2017
have yielded a couple of wins and a pair of third place finishes, both of which
came in Group 2 company behind the impressive Permian, so by that reckoning
there is some improvement required from Sir Michael Stoutes
But that win in the Gordon Stakes was the finest of his career
to date, and hints at a promising upswing ahead of his biggest challenge thus
A rampaging 2017 campaign has fired
Stradivarius into the punters eye, and the John Gosden trained colt is
very much a live contender here.
Victories at Beverley and Ascot pointed
the way for the betting public to keep an eye on this three-year-old, and he
cashed in on that potential with a barnstorming win in the Qatar Goodwood Cup
Stakes in August, where he took the honours from the highly-fancied Big Orange
by a comfortable enough margin of one-and-three-quarter lengths.
Group 1 champion has to be taken seriously in this St Leger renewal;
particularly one that stays on as strong as Stradivarius.