The early contenders for the St Leger

The early contenders for the St Leger

The five English Classics all have tremendous history, but none have been run for longer than the St Leger Stakes. The last classic of the English flat season first ran in 1776 and this year takes place at Doncaster on Saturday, September 14.

Lasting the distance
The St Leger is open to both colts and fillies aged three years and over. It is the longest of the five classics and is run over a mile and six furlongs. The distance is two furlongs longer than both the Epsom Derby and Oaks. Therefore, you need to be backing a horse that will last out the additional distance. If a horse took part in those Epsom races and struggled in the latter part of the race, then it’s unlikely to be a St Leger winner.
Another factor to take into consideration is the timing of this race. With the St Leger taking place in September, it’s possible a horse that has had a long season with tough outings might just find this final classic one race too many.
The St Leger is the final leg of the English Triple Crown that also includes the 1000/2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby. No horse has managed to win that since the great Nijinsky who achieved the feat in 1970. No horse is in contention to do the Triple Crown this year, but who are the top contenders for the 2019 race?

Japan is current favourite
The three-year-old bay colt, Japan, currently heads the market after an impressive run in the Epsom Derby. He’s trained by Aiden O’Brien who is looking for a hat-trick of St Leger wins after victories with Capri and Kew Gardens in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Japan won two out of his three races as a two-year-old including the Group 2 Beresford Stakes at Naas. This year saw Japan go off as the favourite for the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York but finished fourth behind Telecaster. Last time out Japan came third in the Epsom Derby and made good progress in the final furlong finishing third, less than a length behind the winner Anthony Van Dyck. With two more furlongs to run in the St Leger, more improvement is expected, and he has won on both good and heavy ground.

Van Dyck to attempt Derby/St Leger double?


Japan may well have to renew rivalry with the Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck. Also trained by Aiden O’Brien (as are the majority of the leading contenders), the bay colt has won five of his six races. Lasting out the additional two furlongs in the St Leger shouldn’t be a problem as he was staying on well when winning at Epsom. A busy schedule is planned with the Irish Derby on June 29 being his next race.

Broome to sweep away the opposition?
The chances of an Aiden O’Brien St Leger hat-trick are looking good as he also trains the third-favourite Broome. This three-year-old bay colt was held up in the Epsom Derby and ran on well to finish fourth but less than a length behind the winner and only a short-head behind Japan. Some rain would be appreciated by Broome whose three wins have come on soft or good/yielding ground.

Epsom Oaks winner a live contender


Not every favoured horse in this race is trained by Aiden O’Brien; it just feels that way. Anapurna won the Epsom Oaks and hailed from the John Gosden stable who won this race in both 2010 and 2011. Frankie Dettori will be in the saddle looking to win his sixth St Leger, but the first since 2008. Anapurna has won her last three races and stayed on strongly to win the Oaks by a neck from Pink Dogwood. Being in receipt of weight from the colts, Anapurna looks an interesting contender for this final classic of the year.

Epsom Derby favourite on comeback trail
Sir Dragonet went off as the 11/4 favourite to win the Epsom Derby but could only finish fifth. Yet another Aiden O’Brien contender this colt was sired by Camelot who came second in this race in 2012 when chasing the Triple Crown. Camelot did last out the 14 furlongs so Sir Dragonet could be a real danger in this race.

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