RACING AHEAD: Tony McCormick previews the St Leger

Racing Ahead with Tony McCormick
Racing Ahead with Tony McCormick

Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com beforetheoff.com and racing radio station racingfm.com looks forward to the oldest and last classic of the season, the St Leger from Doncaster.

Trainer Aiden O’Brien is equally confident about his three runners who dominate the betting for Saturday’s St Leger. O’Brien firmly believes his Fields Of Athenry was beaten by the poor draw in the Ebor Handicap at York, while saying he would not be surprised to see his charge bowl along at the front, possibly making all in the final classic of the season.

The trainer said he was happy enough with his other two runners, Order Of St George and Bondi Beach, stating there was nothing between them when they met and both have done well since. O’Brien was delighted with the manner of the win of Order Of St George at the Curragh, while saying Bondi Beach was unlucky not to win at York, adding the colt has gone the right way since.

Eight runners will hopefully go to post for the race, following the supplementing of trainer Ralph Becketts’ filly Simple Verse, with the Qatari owners putting up the £50,000 to allow her to take part. Beckett though remains philosophical about the filly’s chances, saying he could think of 50 better ways to spend the £50,000.

The daughter of Duke Of Marmalade has won three of her last four starts, most recently running out an impressive winner of a Group Three prize at Glorious Goodwood under Harry Bentley. The three-year-old had the option of taking on her own sex in Thursday’s DFS Park Hill Stakes at the Town Moor track, but connections have decided to bid for Classic glory against the boys.

Beckett said she had worked very well on Saturday and had a number of tests done and all those had come OK, feeling the time was right to have a go for the Leger, adding Simply Verse was very progressive and in good shape, while knowing she gets the trip.

The trends are stacked against Simple Verse, hinting that she cannot win. Only one of the 11 fillies to win in the last 100 years had failed to finish first or second in either the Oaks or the 1,000 Guineas. Simple Verse is a late maturing graduate from the all-weather that did not contest either race.

Don’t be afraid to have a go with one of the outsiders in the race as in the last eight years the St Leger has thrown up 25/1, 14/1 and 12/1 winners. Seven of the last eight winners had not had a long season, running up to five times, before taking the big prize. A big negative for the gutsy Storm The Stars, who will be having his ninth run of the season. Interestingly seven of the last eight winners had their last run in a Group 2 or 3, while the same number, finished in the first three last time out.

A fascinating race in store, with it between Order Of St George and Bondi Beach for me.