Published 16:15 13/09
There is nothing quite like the St Leger , a race older even than The Derby and therefore the oldest Classic in the world.
I first tried to get to it when a teenager and before I could drive, setting off to hitch-hike the 140 miles to Doncaster, but turning back after I had managed just five in the first two hours (poor sectionals, those), instead watching my equine crush Shergar get turned over on telly.
I have been fortunate enough to go to several St Legers in person since, and intend to watch this year’s renewal by telly again, despite a prior commitment (note to self: no prior commitments on the second weekend in September in future).
The race, sponsored by William Hill and due off at 3:35, promises to be a good one, despite just eight runners, or at least to have a good winner. Unless I am mistaken, that should be LOGICIAN.
The unbeaten son of Frankel, comes into this with the best form, courtesy of his most impressive defeat of Constantinople and three smart others in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, a performance backed up by his overall time and in particular by his late sectionals.
I opposed Logician that day, and briefly thought I had called it right. But Logician went into overdrive when asked and passed his stiffest examination to date with flying colours.
My analysis of his striding, which may be found elsewhere on this site, suggests strongly he will stay – and maybe be suited by – 14.5f, and the quick ground will be no problem at all.
His seven rivals are no mugs, with Il Paradiso arguably the best of them after he ran Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee (both in the frame in past St Legers) quite close in a somewhat tactical Lonsdale Cup at York.
Il Paradiso’s stable-companion Sir Dragonet finished a close fifth in The Derby at Epsom, but that was a slightly substandard renewal (despite containing a few good horses) and he failed to impress when beaten in his recent trial for this.
Sir Ron Priestley is a splendid individual, who has won five of his six starts this year, but he has never taken on opposition as good as this. Of the others, Dashing Willoughby may be a little over-priced, having bitten off more than he could chew against top older horses the last twice and being perhaps still unexposed over a staying trip.
But, if all goes to plan, Logician should take all the beating, and around even money does not strike me as particularly stingy. It should be well worth tuning in to find out, that’s for sure.
The other major races at Doncaster look tricky, and I could not find a bet in either the Park Stakes at 2:25 or the Pommery Champagne Stakes at 3:00, though Shine So Bright and Threat respectively look worthy favourites at fairly short prices.
However, I think it is worth siding with both A MOMENTOFMADNESS and OPEN WIDE on a modest scale against 20 others in the William Hill Portland Handicap at 1:50. The former won this last year, has got himself well-handicapped again and showed a lot more sparkle at York last time, and the latter is building up a fine record of coming late for a slice of the action in strongly-run sprint races, as this promises to be. The former is put up as a win selection and the latter each-way.
The useful and progressive four-year-old did well on sectionals when beating Diocles of Rome at Kempton last month and can be easily forgiven his defeat at Ascot last weekend, as he looked like coming through to play a part when stopped in his run in the penultimate furlong.
This is another handicap which promises to be strongly-run, so expect to see Lethal Lunch played quite late under Adam Kirby, hopefully without the traffic problems this time.
Simon's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
1:50 DONCASTER – WILLIAM HILL PORTLAND HANDICAP
1pt win A MOMENTOFMADNESS (9-1 Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes, Totesport, William Hill)
0.5 pt each-way OPEN WIDE (16-1 BetVictor, Coral, 14-1 bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill)
2:45 CHELMSFORD – LUXDECO.COM ELSENHAM HANDICAP
1pt win LETHAL LUNCH (11-2 general)
3:35 DONCASTER – WILLIAM HILL ST LEGER STAKES
2 pts win LOGICIAN (Evens general)