O’Brien gears up for St Leger assault


It is the oldest Classic in the world and the final British Classic contest of the calendar year, with the St Leger at Doncaster steeped in racing folklore, and legendary trainer Aidan O’Brien has big designs on winning it for the sixth time this weekend.

Kew Gardens 11/8 to win St Leger

A wide-margin Royal Ascot winner in the Queen’s Vase this summer, the Galileo colt Kew Gardens then went to France and harvested a Group 1 prize for himself in July.

As a result he found himself conceding a penalty in last month’s Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, where he would finish less than two lengths third behind Old Persian. That was a fine run in the circumstances, with O’Brien suggesting he was happy with the prep for Doncaster.

The Ballydoyle supremo expects the 1m6f stamina-test on Town Moor to be perfect for Kew Gardens and, following Capri’s gutsy win a year ago, he’s the benchmark here.

Old Persian 6/1 to win St Leger

Charlie Appleby’s team are absolutely flying at present, running at a near 40% strike-rate in recent weeks, and the Newmarket handler has a fascinating contender in Old Persian.

The Godolphin runner has developed into a tough, durable performer this season, winning a handicap and a Listed race at Newmarket before the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He was too keen in the Irish Derby and his effort fizzled out, but he came again with a fine performance to win the Great Voltigeur.

He had been well backed that day, available at 16/1 on the morning of the race before eventually going off at a starting price of 7/1, and he was clearly expected to leave his prior form behind.

That looked a strong renewal of the York  race and, while he got weight from Kew Gardens, the pair are both entitled to have designs on this race, with Old Persian potentially going to offer more upped in trip.

Dee Ex Bee 10/1 to win St Leger

Second to Masar in the Derby at Epsom, the summer started well but has not gone to plan for Dee Ex Bee since.

He was well supported for the Irish Derby later in June but never managed to rise a serious challenge, while it has been similarly disappointing tales since at Longchamp (behind Kew Gardens) and Glorious Goodwood.

Trainer Mark Johnston has earmarked Doncaster for some considerable time and this could be his big day. This longer trip should suit, while the Farhh colt might also relish getting his toe into the ground.

Doncaster’s long and testing home straight should be up his street and Dee Ex Bee is perhaps one that will leave his midsummer form behind now.

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