St Leger Runners Guide & Tips: Back this 16/1 shot in Doncaster Classic

Hurricane Lane is a hot favourite to claim St Leger glory at Doncaster
Hurricane Lane is a hot favourite to claim St Leger glory at Doncaster

A field of ten will head to Doncaster for Saturday's St Leger, and Charlie Appleby's Hurricane Lane will be a red-hot odds-on favourite for the final Classic of the season. We take a look at the whole field here, and pick out our best bet for the staying showpiece...

1. Fernando Vichi - O Murphy - J O'Brien

Two wins from eight career starts just highlights what a tough task Fernando Vichi has on his hands, but Joseph O'Brien's colt has competed in some top notch races this season, and is entitled to take his chance here. A winner of the Listed Nijinsky Stakes at Leopardstown back in June, the son of Australia was then unable to land any sort of blow in the Irish Derby, as he finished a distant ninth behind impressive winner Hurricane Lane that day.

Last seen being beaten by Interpretation in the Listed Vinnie Roe Stakes, Fernando Vichi will lock horns with that adversary again, as well as the aforementioned Hurricane Lane, so he looks up against it, as he takes on proven Group winners in the St Leger.

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2. High Definition - F Dettori - A O'Brien

Supplemented at a cost of £50,000, High Definition is a fascinating runner and is one of four Aidan O'Brien-trained runners taking their chance in the St Leger. Heralded as the next potential superstar from Ballydoyle, High Definition is yet to live up to expectations, but you have to feel they wouldn't spend that much on supplementation if they didn't feel he could play a primary role.

Unbeaten as a juvenile, his two-year-old campaign ended with a fine win in the Beresford Stakes, but the Galileo colt has failed to get his head in front this term, and has been far from impressive. Third behind Hurricane Lane in the Dante Stakes at York, High Definition then flopped in the Irish Derby, as he was a distant tenth of eleven runners. Returning to York for his final run, High Definition put in a laboured display when sixth in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, and he will need to improve immeasurably from that run if he is to play any sort of role here.

3. Hurricane Lane - W Buick - C Appleby

A dual Group 1 winner this season, Hurricane Lane will head into the St Leger as the one to beat in the Doncaster showpiece, and if he can replicate some of his runs this season then he will prove to be a cut above his rivals. The son of Frankel showed his class when storming to victory in the Dante Stakes at York, before he was a fine third behind stablemate Adayar in the Derby at Epsom Downs.

However, it wasn't long before he returned to winning ways as he bounded to glory in the Irish Derby at the Curragh, as he bagged his first Group 1 win. Sent over to France for his next test, Hurricane Lane was a mightily-impressive six length winner of the Grand Prix De Paris at Longchamp over 1m 4f, and he will look for his third Group 1 win on the bounce on Saturday in the St Leger. 

He's yet to venture further than a mile-and-a-half yet, but he's shaped like the 1m 6f trip shouldn't pose any problems, as he's certainly not stopping at the finish of 1m 4f, so he could improve for the step up in trip, and providing he brings his A game then he looks hard to beat.

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4. Interpretation - H Doyle - A O'Brien

Once raced as a juvenile (fourth at the Curragh), Interpretation has improved immeasurably as a three-year-old as the Aidan O'Brien-trained raider has notched up a trio of wins this season, and will head into the St Leger as a lively each-way player at double-figured odds. A return to the Curragh on his second start saw him claim his maiden victory, but it was his next two wins that suggested he could be a potential staying star.

A comfortable two-and-a-half length victory in a Leopardstown contest in late July, the Galileo colt then stormed to victory in the Listed Vinnie Roe Stakes, where he beat Fernando Vichi with ease. That success came over 1m 6f, so he showed that stamina won't be a problem when he runs over the same distance in the St Leger, and he is open to more improvement on only his fifth start. 

5. Mojo Star - R Ryan - R Hannon

Placed in four of his five career starts, Mojo Star finally broke his maiden tag last time out when winning at Newbury, but he has some quality form lines on his CV, so he has to be a leading player here, if he can produce a career best for his trainer Richard Hannon.

A 50/1 outsider in the Derby at Epsom in June, Mojo Star ran a mighty race to finish second to Adayar, and he managed to get the better of Hurricane Lane, who he takes on again this weekend in that June Classic. However, Hurricane Lane reversed that form in the Irish Derby as Mojo Star could only finish fifth at the Curragh, and he would need to improve significantly to get the better of the Godolphin raider here. 

A minor maiden event at Newbury last time out was merely used as a confidence booster, but having broke his duck Hannon will hope his son of Sea The Stars will enjoy the step up in trip and he could be one of the premier challengers for the British onslaught.

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6. Ottoman Emperor - B Coen - J Murtagh

Unraced as a juvenile, Ottoman Emperor has been a real revelation as a three-year-old as having failed to win on debut the Johnny Murtagh-trained colt has gone on a spectacular four-race winning run, and he will look to make it five on the bounce in the St Leger.

Wins at Cork, Gowran Park and Navan earned him a trip to Glorious Goodwood, and he excelled at the south coast track as he stormed to victory in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes over a mile-and-a-half. Showing tremendous battling qualities that day, the son of Excelebration stayed on in eye-catching fashion to beat Sir Lucan by half a length.

It appeared that a step up in trip would pose no real problems for Murtagh's charge, so it's no shock to see him lining up in the Leger, and while he will need to continue on an upward curve now sent into Group 1 company, Ottoman Emperor appears to be still improving, so is a key contender.

7. Scope - R Hornby - R Beckett

Ralph Beckett knows what it takes to win the St Leger as he trained Simple Verse to victory in 2015, but he will face a tough ask to recapture the crown in 2021 as he saddles outsider Scope, who is going to face a tough ask to claim Classic glory at Doncaster.

Having beaten Mojo Star in his maiden event, Scope has failed to taste victory since, but he put up a promising run third in the Lingfield Derby Trial back in May. A lengthy absence following that run, Scope was last seen finishing fifth of eight in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, and he will need to improve hugely from that effort to go close here.

8. Sir Lucan - J Doyle - A O'Brien

A winner at the third time of asking during his two-year-old campaign, Sir Lucan started this season with a Listed win at Navan on his second start in 2021, but since then Aidan O'Brien's charge has found it hard to get his head in front. 

Sent off a 9/1 chance for the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in August, Sir Lucan was unable to deal with Ottoman Emperor, who had too much in the locker for the Ballydoyle raider, and Sir Lucan will need to improve to reverse that form around. Another that competed in the Great Voltgeur at York, Sir Lucan yet again failed to challenge for glory as he finished fourth, and he will need to produce a huge career best here to claim a shock win.

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9. The Mediterranean - W Lordan - A O'Brien

The fourth shot fired from the Aidan O'Brien gun, The Mediterranean has competed in some of the premier middle distance races this season, but is still yet to get his head in front in Group company, so is going to find this standard very tough on Saturday afternoon. 

Second behind Fernando Vichi in the Listed Nijinsky Stakes at the start of the season, the son of Galileo was next seen finishing fourth in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, while he was unable to get close to Hurricane Lane when the pair clashed in the Grand Prix De Paris. Fourth in that Group 1 event at Longchamp, The Mediterranean then returned to British shores and finished an excellent second to Yibir in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York.

Shaping like this sort of stamina test would bring out the best in him, The Mediterranean could be another potential each-way player at double-figured odds, but he will need to improve on what he has shown this season.

10. Youth Spirit - T Marquand - A Balding

The experienced Youth Spirit ended his juvenile season finishing an excellent third behind Battleground in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, and Andrew Balding's performer has continued to produce some decent efforts in decent company during his three-year-old campaign.

An excellent winner of the Chester Vase back in May, Youth Spirit was next seen in the Derby, but he could only finish eighth in the Epsom Classic. Fourth in the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, Youth Spirit then ran a decent race when third in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, but this Camelot colt will need to build on those two runs to play another sort of role here.

Verdict:

It's going to be a tough ask to beat Hurricane Lane, who is rightly an odds-on favourite for the St Leger, and if he turns up and produces his best then he has to be regarded as the most likely winner. However, there is some value that lies elsewhere and that is with the Aidan O'Brien-trained INTERPRETATION, who has been on a huge incline in recent months, and he was mightily impressive last time out when winning in Listed company. He will need to continue to improve, but he shaped like the test of a St Leger would bring out the best in him, and at double-figured odds, he is a cracking each-way play.

St Leger Tip
Interpretation silk

Interpretation (EW)

lost
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