St Leger Runners: Several will fancy their chances

St Leger Runnners: Hukum has a leading chance
St Leger Runnners: Hukum has a leading chance

Nick Seddon takes an in-depth look at all the runners for Saturday's St Leger at Doncaster, which is the final classic race of the British Flat season...

1. Berkshire Rocco (Andrea Atzeni/Andrew Balding)

Useful performer, whose standout performance so far this season came when finishing second behind Santiago in the Queen’s Vase. This trip will be no problem as a consequence, but he was well held in last month’s Great Voltigeur Stakes and has now been defeated by English King, Santiago and Pyledriver this term. Likely to run his race, but has plenty to find for win purposes - though it’s worth noting that his jockey Andrea Atzeni has a great record at Doncaster, and in this race.

2. Dawn Patrol (Padraig Beggy/Aidan O'Brien)

Has previous with Santiago, having finished third behind him in the Irish Derby in June. He’s since won a maiden over a mile and a quarter at Naas, and seemed to stay this trip when third in a listed contest at Leopardstown last month. He’s got plenty of work to do here as a consequence and is his trainer’s second string, but in Padraig Beggy he has a jockey who relishes the big occasions. 

3. English King (Tom Marquand/Ed Walker)

Hinted that he was going to be one of the leading lights of his generation when powering to victory in the Lingfield Derby Trial in June, but he failed to justify favouritism in the classic, finishing fifth behind Serpentine. Appeals as one who'd be suited by this test of stamina, but he disappointed when only fourth in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood on his most recent outing (Subjectivist third), and he's got plenty to prove here - though he is reunited with Tom Marquand, his partner at Lingfield. Seems likely to run in the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp on Sunday instead.

4. Galileo Chrome (Tom Marquand/Joseph O'Brien)

Rapidly improving type, who has come in for plenty of support this week since being confirmed for the race. He's won each of his three starts so far this season, including when cruising to a five length victory in a listed contest over a mile and five furlongs at Navan last month. This is a big step up in class, but he's entitled to find more improvement yet, and the fact that the trainer is sending him here in favour of Sunday's Irish St Leger is perhaps a tip in itself.

5. Hukum (Jim Crowley/Owen Burrows)

Likeable type who’s improved in each of his four starts to date, winning three. He impressed when making a winning return in a competitive handicap at Royal Ascot in June, and couldn’t be more impressive when storming to success in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes over just shy of this trip at Newbury last month. This requires more, but he’s one to take very seriously - for an owner and jockey combination who are enjoying a tremendous campaign to date. 

6. Mohican Heights (Jamie Spencer/David Simcock)

Smart juvenile who has a listed victory over Subjectivist on his record. However, he was held when third behind Pyledriver at Royal Ascot in June, and could never get into things when down the field in the Epsom Derby. We’ve not seen him since, and the extra two furlongs are a step into the unknown - though his pedigree suggests he should stay the trip. 

7. Mythical (Emmet McNamara/Aidan O'Brien)

Useful type, who’s been handed some lofty assignments during his career, though he’s regularly found life tough, and has recorded just one win in seven starts to date. He couldn’t get into things on his sole start at this level in the Epsom Derby in July, and having been well held in a Group 3 contest last time out, he’s got plenty to prove here at a new trip. 

8. Pyledriver (Martin Dwyer/William Muir)

Likeable type, who's making a habit out of defying expectations, and defied a big starting price to win the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. He was down the field on his next start in the Derby, but bounced back with a convincing success in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last month, which is a recognised trial for this. He's technically got to prove he stays this trip, but he ran all the way to the line last time out, and his connections are confident, meaning he has to be taken seriously. However, the gut feeling is that he may need a career best effort to take this, and others make more appeal at the prices.

9. Santiago (Frankie Dettori/Aidan O'Brien)

Arrives here as the sole Group 1 winner in the field, having won the Irish Derby at the Curragh in June. He's proven himself to be a classy type so far this season, and proved himself at this trip when running out a convincing winner of the Queen's Vase at the Royal meeting. He's since been beaten by both Stradivarius and Nayef Road in the Goodwood Cup, finishing third, but he bumped into two high-class rivals there, and sets the standard on the pick of his form. The 3/1 feels generous bearing in mind he ticks plenty of boxes, and he's a confident pick to take this - with the booking of Frankie Dettori an obvious positive.

St Leger Preview

10. Subjectivist (Joe Fanning/Mark Johnston)

Typically busy campaigner from the Mark Johnston yard, and he’s got form this term which closely ties in with each of Hukum, Pyledriver and English King. He’s an upwardly-mobile type, and while he disappointed in last month’s Great Voltigeur Stakes, he quickly bounced back, romping to victory in the Group 3 March Stakes over this trip at Goodwood. This represents a quick turnaround, but he’s a straightforward type and is a lively each-way shout provided his excursions don’t catch up with him.  

11. Sunchart (Andrew Slattery/Andy Slattery)

Looked potentially useful when winning a nine-furlong maiden at Tipperary as a two-year-old last October, though he’s winless in each of his four starts this term. Looked out of his depth at this level when eighth behind Santiago in the Irish Derby in June, and although he was a good second in a listed contest over this trip last time (Dawn Patrol third), he’s got plenty to find to have a serious say here. 

12. Tyson Fury (Kieron Shoemark/Richard Spencer)

Arrives here as an unknown quantity, having had just the one start to date. He does at least have winning course form, and impressed when making a winning debut over a mile and a half in July. He’s entitled to improve for that, but this is an almighty ask, particularly for one that’s making just his second start on a racecourse. 

Verdict

This is an open-looking renewal of the St Leger according to the market, though it’s very difficult to oppose Santiago at the prices. He’s the sole Group 1 winner in the field, winning the Irish Derby in June, and showed he handles the trip when impressing in the Queen’s Vase. The booking of Frankie Dettori is an obvious bonus and the 3/1 that’s on offer at the time of writing looks generous when you bear in mind that he ticks plenty of boxes.

Pyledriver can’t be ignored after his impressive success in last month’s Great Voltigeur at York, but he’s unproven at this trip and would likely need a career best to take this. The improving pair of Hukum and Galileo Chrome both merit consideration, while it would be folly to completely rule out English King

St Leger
Santiago silk

Santiago

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