St Leger Tips: Santiago looks an Ande price

St Leger Tips: Santiago was a game winner of the Irish Derby at the Curragh in June.
St Leger Tips: Santiago was a game winner of the Irish Derby at the Curragh in June.

Nick Seddon previews Saturday’s St Leger at Doncaster, which has an open feel to it…

This year’s renewal of the St Leger looks a competitive one, and 11 runners will go to post for the final classic of the season, following the defection of English King on Friday morning - who heads to Longchamp for Sunday’s Grand Prix de Paris. 

The current favourite at the time of writing is Pyledriver, who's making a habit out of defying expectations this season - defying a big starting price to win the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. He struggled 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 his connections are confident, and 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.

Pyledriver is joined at the top of the market by Santiago and Hukum, who are also vying for favouritism. The latter is an upwardly mobile type, who has improved in each of his four starts to date, winning three. He made a winning return in a competitive handicap at Royal Ascot in June, and couldn’t have been more impressive when storming to success in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes over just shy of this trip at Newbury last month. He will need more now in Group 1 company, but he’s one to take very seriously for an owner and jockey combination who are enjoying a tremendous campaign to date. 

However, the runner who sets the standard is Santiago, who arrives as the sole Group 1 winner in the field. That win came in the Irish Derby, and he’s proven himself to be a classy type so far this season, showing plenty of liking for this trip when running out a convincing winner of the Queen's Vase at the Royal meeting. He's since been defeated by both Stradivarius and Nayef Road in the Goodwood Cup, finishing third, but he bumped into two high-class stayers there, and sets the standard on the pick of his form. The 3/1 that’s available at the time of writing 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.

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Two improving types to consider are Subjectivist and Galileo Chrome. The latter has been subject to plenty of support this week, and heads here rather than taking his chance in Sunday's Irish St Leger at the Curragh. 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 he heads over the Irish Sea for this is perhaps a tip in itself. 

Subjectivist is a typical campaigner from the Mark Johnston yard in that he's been kept busy this season, and although he's got form to turnaround with both Hukum and Pyledriver, he's an upwardly-mobile type. As mentioned, he disappointed behind Pyledriver in last month’s Great Voltigeur Stakes, but he quickly bounced back, and romped 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 - though he'd need a career best for win purposes. 

The remainder of the field all have something to prove for win purposes, including Dawn Patrol, who finished third behind Santiago in the Irish Derby in June. He finished third in a listed contest over this trip at Leopardstown last month (Sunchart second), though both would need plenty more here, while Berkshire Rocco has regularly been held at Group level this term - a comment which also applies to Mythical

Lastly, Mohican Heights hasn't been seen since disappointing in the Epsom Derby and has plenty to prove, while Tyson Fury faces a huge step up in class after one start to date. He does at least have winning course form, and impressed when making a winning debut in a novice contest over a mile and a half here 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.

With that in mind, 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.


St Leger, Saturday 12th September - back Santiago at 3/1

St Leger
Santiago silk


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