The 2017 St Leger: Runner-by-runner guide and verdict

By Tom Peacock@tompeacock
Fri 15 Sep 2017

Who will win the final Classic of the season? Watch vital galloping clues and read the views and verdict of Tom Peacock

By Tom Peacock

1. Capri

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

General odds: 4-1

2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival - Day Two - Curragh Racecourse

Beat no less a horse than Cracksman in the Irish Derby and has already shown an aptitude for ground as deep as heavy. Classy, lightly-raced and an obvious contender for his leading stable. Would be only the fifth grey to take the Leger in the post-war period - but the most recent was Kingston Hill in 2014.

2. Count Octave

Trainer: Andrew Balding

Odds: 20-1

Already proved his stamina with a fine second in the Queen’s Vase and recent effort at Goodwood was encouraging enough without being a marked step forward. Lively outsider but might find a few too good and was pulled out of the Great Voltigeur as the ground was considered too soft. Count Octave represents Frankel, who is seeking a maiden Classic from his first crop as a stallion.

3. Crystal Ocean

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute

Odds: 4-1

Looked a leading candidate the second he surged clear in the style of a typical improver for his stable in the Gordon Stakes. From an outstanding family and ought not to be inconvenienced by conditions. It took Sir Michael Stoute 25 goes to finally win his first Leger in 2008 with Conduit, but he has been out of luck with four tries since then.

4. Defoe

Trainer: Roger Varian

Odds: 9-2

Has been well placed to win all four starts, with two handicaps, a Listed race and a cosy victory over a similar trip in the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury. Rating entitles him to be competitive. Jockey Andrea Atzeni is the modern-day Doncaster master, with two St Leger triumphs and four successive victories in the Racing Post Trophy since 2013.

5. Douglas Macarthur

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Odds: 33-1

Has not been far away in Group One company and made a good start to the year. Unfortunately, his subsequent efforts only suggest he is an O’Brien support act. Carries the colours of Markus Jooste, reputed to be one of the wealthiest businesspeople in Africa.

6. Raheen House

Trainer: Brian Meehan

Odds: 12-1

Earned his place by defeating the reliable Desert Skyline at in the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket and connections are entitled to be confident that he can outrun his price. Owner Lew Day, who also had Meehan’s useful Spark Plug, owns the Raheen House Hotel in Ireland.

7. Rekindling

Trainer: Joseph O’Brien

Odds: 10-1

Has represented his young trainer well, winning two Group races and finishing second to Order Of St George in the Irish Leger Trial. Might just be held by the classier ones again. Would be completing a remarkable double for Joseph O’Brien, who won the Leger from the saddle four years ago.

8. Stradivarius

Trainer: John Gosden

Odds: 6-1

A dramatic late bloomer who won the Queen’s Vase and then took advantage of the three-year-old allowance by graduating to Group One level in the Goodwood Cup. Respected but in danger of being caught out for speed if there is a lack of pace. John Gosden’s most recent Leger came in the same black and yellow colours of Bjorn Nielsen via Masked Marvel in 2011.

9. The Anvil

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Odds: 66-1

Likely to be asked to take up pacemaking duties again, so his only hope will be if the field allows him to get away. The Anvil was bred by Whisperview Trading Ltd, which is Aidan O’Brien’s bloodstock and training company.

10. Venice Beach

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Odds: 11-1

Not the most convincing of Chester Vase winners who was put in his place in the Derby. Second, albeit at a distance, behind Cracksman, in the Voltigeur and looks the stable second string behind Capri. Venice Beach is a half-brother to Danedream, the fine German mare who won the Arc and the King George.

11. Coronet

Trainer: John Gosden

Odds: 15-2

Very good filly who won the Ribblesdale and chased home her stablemate Enable in the Yorkshire Oaks. Question mark as to whether testing ground and an extended trip will really be in her favour. It is just two years since Simple Verse became the most recent filly to take the season’s final Classic.

Big-race verdict: The St Leger is regarded as the conclusive test of a three-year-old’s stamina over the mile and three-quarters of Town Moor, on ground that is often at least on the soft side. However, it is fascinating that so many runners are already equipped for the challenge through a combination of robust breeding and form at around the distance. The claims of each of the leading contenders cannot be readily dismissed so the safest option seems to be to side with the proven class of CAPRI, a colt from an all-conquering stable who looked to be making quiet progress before his breakthrough in the Irish Derby. A drier forecast would give COUNT OCTAVE a chance of sneaking into the places after a reasonable tune-up outing.

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