The St Leger, run over a mile and three-quarters at Doncaster, is the oldest Classic horse race, having been run every year bar one since 1776 (3.50pm, Saturday).
Horses that ran in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood or the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, both over 1 mile 4 furlongs, on their previous start have provided 11 of the last 14 winners.
This year’s renewal features Snow Sky, who won the Gordon Stakes and finished second in the Great Voltigeur, plus a total of seven other horses who ran in one race or the other on their previous start, so picking a likely winner is no easy task, especially with the Derby second and third, Kingston Hill and Romsdal, also in opposition.
Strictly from a ratings perspective, Kingston Hill (3/1) has 9lb and upwards in hand of his rivals. However, the Mastercraftsman colt has never won beyond a mile, so has his stamina to prove after a ten-week absence and his trainer Roger Varian said on Thursday that he would not run if the ground was too fast.
The going on Town Moor is currently good to soft, good in places on the round track so, with dry weather forecast for Yorkshire for the rest of the week, his participation must be in doubt. Even if he does line up, he has enough question marks against him to make him look poor value at the odds on offer.
Snow Sky (5/1) finished 12 lengths behind Kingston Hill in the Racing Post Trophy, over a mile, at Doncaster last October, but has improved significantly since stepping up to middle distances. His neck defeat of Windshear in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood in July was a decent effort, particularly considering he wandered in the closing stages.
He lost little caste in defeat when going down by 2¼ lengths to the highly progressive Postponed in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last month. Sir Michael Stoute has won the St Leger once before, with Conduit in 2008, but Snow Sky finished weakly in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on his only attempt over a testing mile and a half, so looks a doubtful stayer.
Windshear (8/1) was never quite getting to Snow Sky in the Gordon Stakes, but considering he was shuffled back in the field with two furlongs to run and had to be switched, it was a creditable effort.
The Hurricane Run colt has finished second in five of his six races this season, but there appears to nothing wrong with his attitude. He has 2¾ lengths to find with Hartnell on their running in the Bahrain Trophy, over 1 mile 5 furlongs, on the July Course at Newmarket in July, but has a stout pedigree and may well be suited by an extra furlong and a half.
Speaking of Hartnell (14/1), the Queen’s Vase winner clearly has stamina in abundance and his win in the Bahrain Trophy, the form of which has worked out very well indeed, was probably as good a St Leger trial as any. The Authorized colt was hugely disappointing when only sixth of eleven in the Great Voltiguer Stakes, but that run looked too bad to be true and, back over a more suitable distance, he deserves a chance to redeem himself.