Tom Peacock's runner-by-runner guide to the William Hill St Leger

By Tom Peacock@tompeacock
Thu 13 Sep 2018

Watch what Tony Calvin and Angus McNae make of the St Leger and read the views of Tom Peacock.

Much like the Ed Stone, former Labour leader Ed Miliband’s tablet proclaiming his manifesto pledges, a plinth commemorating the death of the William Hill St Leger is not going to be required for public use the foreseeable future.

Following a sequence of fairly ordinary renewals and winners of the world’s oldest Classic, it was occasionally suggested that the race had no relevance in modern times.

Mercifully, the Leger regained prominence in 2017 with a renewal which not only featured a Melbourne Cup winner in Rekindling, a live hope for this year in Count Octave, a top middle-distance performer (Crystal Ocean) and the small matter of Stradivarius, the stayer par excellence. That is before the winner, Capri, has even had a chance to show his full hand.

So give this year’s competitive line-up a chance. Who knows who might be in there?

1 DEE EX BEE:

Trainer: Mark Johnston

Odds: 12-1

 Dee Ex Bee has long been touted as a St Leger horse (PA)
Dee Ex Bee has long been touted as a St Leger horse (PA)

Has looked a Leger type for the majority of the season, particularly with his mighty second to Masar in the Investec Derby in June.

The concern is that he has failed to match that effort in three subsequent runs, going no better when his sights were lowered in the Gordon Stakes.

Easier ground should be in his favour but still without a win all year and running out of chances.

2 KEW GARDENS:

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Odds: 2-1

 Kew Gardens showed he can handle the St Leger trip at Royal Ascot (Focusonracing)
Kew Gardens showed he can handle the St Leger trip at Royal Ascot (Focusonracing)

Looked to have been gifted a Group One in the Grand Prix de Paris, especially with Dee Ex Bee failing to repeat his fine Derby effort, but sailed to the top of the market after an eye-catching third in the Great Voltigeur.

At a time when his stable was quiet, he looked to have run the perfect prep under a penalty as he came from off the pace for third.

Has a valuable win over the distance in the new Queen’s Vase and must be considered a major player.

3 LOXLEY:

Trainer: Charlie Appleby

Odds: 11-1

Not a lot wrong with the credentials of a stoutly-bred colt who has escaped much attention with two recent efforts in France, and also holds an entry in Sunday's Prix Niel at ParisLongchamp.

Beat fellow Leger candidate Raymond Tusk at Newmarket before a respectable second to Wells Farhh Go at Newmarket, but seemed to have rediscovered his joi de vivre with a professional victory over experienced stayers such as Group One-placed Salouen in the Grand Prix de Deauville. Ought to enter calculations.

4 NELSON:

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Odds: 40-1

Useful two-year-old who successfully was able to make all the running in the Ballysax Stakes but has begun to be commandeered for pace-setting duties and it would appear that would be his job again.

5 OLD PERSIAN:

Trainer: Charlie Appleby

Odds: 7-1

Connections will be hoping for a dry week as all of this colt’s best form has been on top of the ground. Has had a great season with four wins, including at Royal Ascot and in this race’s principal trial, the Great Voltigeur.

On that occasion, he was given a sensible ride close to the pace and might not have it so easy here. There is also a minor concern regarding stamina over this extended trip as his half-sister, Chapelli, was a sprinter.

6 PROSCHEMA:

Trainer: Tom Dascombe

Odds: 50-1

Watch the closing stages of the Melrose Stakes in which Proschema was third

Not bred to be this type of horse as a son of Declaration Of War and a big outsider, but not a hopeless case on what he has shown to date.

Won nicely over an extended mile and three furlongs at Haydock and has caught the eye in several big handicaps, most notably when third to Ghostwatch in a very good Melrose at York.

That effort is not enough for him to be winning here but certainly looks capable of doing himself justice.

7 RAYMOND TUSK:

Trainer: Richard Hannon

Odds: 20-1

Watch the closing stages of the Geoffrey Freer Stakes in which Raymond Tusk was second

Robust sort from Coolmore families who was out of his depth in the Eclipse but made up for lost time in winning the Glasgow Stakes.

Unlucky not to have finished closer to Hamada in the Geoffrey Freer as he was squeezed up at a vital moment.

However, it is debatable whether even winning that event would put him in the frame for victory here.

8 SOUTHERN FRANCE

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Odds: 14-1

Prolific sweater who was kept away from the thick of the action for the early part of the season before looking an interesting project for the future when running second to Kew Gardens in the Queen’s Vase.

Probably the horse to take from the Irish St Leger Trial, where he was not given a desperately hard time for fourth.

He’s going to have to grow up fast, but is in the best hands in order to do so.

9 THE PENTAGON:

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Odds: 25-1

The same comments appear to have been applied to this fellow for an age now, in that he shapes well in decent races and that one will come his way at some stage. Although many of the Aidan O’Brien runners could be forgiven for the yard’s comparatively quiet season, there wasn’t enough promise in his Voltigeur run to be going mad about him here.

10 ZABRISKIE:

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Odds: 100-1

Excused a problematic run in the Derby but has hardly been a world-beater in other outings. Showed very little in what looked a pipe-opener in the Great Voltigeur and seems one to hold your bets about for the time being.

11 LAH TI DAR:

Trainer: John Gosden

Odds: 15-8

Watch video analysis of the Galtres Stakes from The Verdict

Has looked a potential superstar in three outings so far, gaining compensation for missing a Classic campaign with a blistering effort in the Galtres Stakes. After that Frankie Dettori nominated the final Classic of the season as being a shrewd objective.

In any other stable, she would be heading straight for the Prix Vermeille and the Arc, with this race not even under consideration.

Although there were no signs of her stopping at York, the worry would be that her high-class sister and dam did not run over such extended distances and that this could be a baptism of fire.

12 MAID UP:

Trainer: Andrew Balding

Odds: 25-1

Watch Maid Up win at Goodwood last time

Credit is due to connections, not only for stumping up the £50,000 to supplement, but by placing her so cleverly that she has won four times.

The latest was at Group Three level at Goodwood, a valid performance but more will be required than defeating two fairly ordinary rivals and some minor Classic black type will be a good result.

TOM PEACOCK'S VERDICT:

 Loxley has passed under the radar after wins in France (FocusOnRacing)
Loxley has passed under the radar after wins in France (FocusOnRacing)

It’s pleasing to have such a variety of contenders to mull over in the St Leger once again and although there is a worthy favourite in Kew Gardens, it hardly seems a fool’s errand to search for alternatives.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt has looked in the mould of a St Leger winner for some time, but he has new rivals to contend with on Town Moor.

His promising stablemate Southern France should be prominent in that list of alternatives, but top of this list is LOXLEY, who has ticks in many of the required boxes and seems to be thriving at the right time. The Godolphin runner is available at 11-1.

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