Nine have been declared for the Betfred St Leger – the fifth and final British Classic of the season – at Doncaster on Saturday.
Here’s a runner-by-runner guide, detailing each contender’s odds and a brief assessment on their chances of landing the £421,355 prize.
Alexandroupolis (Aidan O’Brien/Sean Levey) – 20/1
Was seen as a leading Classic contender for Aidan O’Brien coming into the season, but the son of Camelot has struggled not only to stay sound but also to live up to expectations on track. While not quite a no-hoper, he’d have to improve almost beyond recognition to win this.
Arrest (John & Thady Gosden/Frankie Dettori) – 7/2
One of three for John & Thady Gosden. The choice of the great Lanfranco Dettori – who hopes to win a 24th and final Classic – after a last-minute switch from Gregory following days of rain. The Frankel colt clearly has a massive chance with Dettori onboard and conditions now in his favour.
Hear from John Gosden himself on his hopes (note: this was filmed a few days ago, so elements are no longer relevant)
Chesspiece (Simon & Ed Crisford/James Doyle) – 10/1
Perhaps more of an each-way proposition, as he’s a little uninspiring having already been beaten by both Desert Hero and Gregory in G3/G2 company respectively – convincingly in regards to the latter contest at Royal Ascot.
Continuous (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore) – 7/2
The pick of Ryan Moore for a trainer who’s won the Leger six times. That alone, never mind the fact he’s the highest-rated horse in the field, is enough to recommend him. Beat Gregory in the Great Voltigeur at York last time out, although suspicion is that race fell into his lap somewhat. Nevertheless, he comes into this with little to prove and as the one they all have to beat.
Watch our interview with the maestro Aidan O’Brien, who provides a fascinating insight into what he looks for in a Betfred St Leger winner.
Denmark (Aidan O’Brien/Daniel Tudhope) – 50/1
Another for O’Brien and currently our rank outsider. He has over 10lbs to find on official ratings and a seven-day turnaround to overcome, but to his credit there’s not all that much between him and Middle Earth on form. Like Alexandroupolis, I’d fall short of calling him a no-hoper but it’s hard to envisage he can do better than make the frame.
Desert Hero (William Haggas/Tom Marquand) – 9/2
I personally suspect he’ll find one or two too good, but this improving son of Sea The Stars, who beat Chesspiece at Glorious Goodwood last month, can’t be ruled out. A very interesting runner.
Gregory (John & Thady Gosden/Kieran Shoemark) – 7/2
Team Gosden’s number two after Dettori’s switch to Arrest, which certainly hasn’t improved his chance. Beaten by Continuous at York the last day, but this looks a more ideal test and it’s highly-unlikely the son of Golden Horn will be setting the fractions again. Good chance.
Middle Earth (John & Thady Gosden/Oisin Murphy) – 9/1
The third and final runner for the Gosdens. Supplemented for £50,000 earlier this week, the son of the late Roaring Lion is improving at a rate of knots and was impressive in winning the Melrose Handicap at York’s Ebor Festival last time out. While hard to gauge against his main market rivals, he ought to be taken seriously.
Tower Of London (Aidan O’Brien/Jim Crowley) – 9/1
Despite not having Moore in the plate, he has every chance providing he’s fit and this isn’t a ‘prep’ run for the Melbourne Cup next month. Unlucky in the G3 Bahrain Trophy Stakes at Newmarket last time out when Ryan dropped the whip late on, but that’s strong form and this highly-progressive son of Galileo looks a great each-way play at current prices.