Defoe scores at Newbury to set up St Leger tilt

Sat 19 Aug 2017

Watch the closing stages of the Betfred Geoffey Freer Stakes won by Defoe at Newbury on Saturday and Andrea Atzeni's reaction.

By staff

Defoe enhanced his prospects for the William Hill St Leger with a clear-cut victory under Andrea Atzeni in the Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.

The Roger Varian-trained colt dispensed with older horses in some style as he took his 100 per cent record this season to four.

Varian's charge survived a Stewards Enquiry and is now no better than William Hill's 9-1 about the final Classic of the season at Doncaster on September 16.

Atzeni was suitably impressed, and when asked whether Defoe was St Leger material he told Racing UK's Stewart Machin: "Definitely, you've got to go. He is a horse with a bright future and is getting better with each run."

To Eternity made the running well into the straight, while Atzeni had Defoe switched off in last place until asking him to take closer order.

The 13-8 favourite made eyecatching progress to go on after Frontiersman had briefly led two furlongs out.

Wall Of Fire tried to challenge on the inside of Defoe but the gap closed and Hugo Palmer's four-year-old had to switch and was three-quarters of a length down at the line.

The first two pulled three and a half lengths clear of Frontiersman in third place.

The stewards allowed the result to stand following an enquiry into the incident.

Atzeni added: "He's a gem of a horse. He's very laid-back and you wouldn't think he'd had a race.

"At least we know that he stays.

"The Leger will be a very good race, but this fellow will go there with a big chance.

"He will also be a nice four-year-old."

Emma Clutterbuck, pupil assistant to trainer Hugo Palmer, said of the runner-up: "The horse has run an absolute blinder.

"He has finished in the first three, which is important in getting qualification for the Melbourne Cup.

"He is owned by some Australians and that is where they hope he will end up."

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