Shantaram on Leger trail in Bahrain Trophy
Thursday 12 July 2012
John Gosden could provide yet another Ladbrokes St Leger candidate from his all-conquering stable if Shantaram produces a decent performance in today's Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket.
The trainer has landed the final Classic of the season for the last two years and already has two strong prospects for September's race in the shape of Michelangelo and Thought Worthy.
Last season's Leger winner Masked Marvel used this Group Three event as his prep-run, while Shantaram has shown himself to be a credible performer already.
It took Lady Bamford's colt four runs to finally get a win to his name, but his first two efforts this term were of real substance as he finished a nose behind Model Pupil on the Rowley Mile and was then beaten just half a length by subsequent Derby runner-up Main Sequence in the major trial at Lingfield.
Shantaram went off the 1-8 favourite in a maiden at the Newmarket July Course last month but only scraped home on soft ground, and Gosden would have concerns if conditions are testing again.
"He has done well in the last two or three weeks. I thought the maiden would be a penalty kick but he didn't like the ground and he got a bit tired. I wouldn't like to see too much rain, but he's in good order and I've been pleased with him," the trainer told RacingUK.
Shantaram's main rival could be the William Haggas-trained Valiant. The Galileo colt, owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, is unbeaten in two starts. He came through late to get off the mark at Newbury before producing a similar performance when a hot favourite for a York handicap.
Haggas said: "He's very well. It's obviously a step up in class for him and it's hard to tell whether he'll cope with it or not, as he's a horse who shows me nothing at home. But he's a well-bred horse and the way he ran last time suggested he wanted a step up in trip, so we're upping him in trip and class. He seems to handle softer ground, so we'll see what happens."
James Toller's runner Rewarded took another step forward when a good third to Energizer in the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot while Cheshire Oaks winner Good Morning Star and Naseem Alyasmeen provide more competition.
The final runner is the lightly-raced Yazdi. An update on trainer Brian Meehan's website read: "Easy Thirsk maiden winner seemed to find the two miles of the Queen's Vase at Ascot stretching his stamina. This reversal to 13 furlongs should be more suitable."