Dandino looks primed to end Given's Classic famine in St Leger
THE wait has been long, and the road hard for trainer James Given, but he finally gets his chance to land a 'major' with the vastly-improved Dandino in today's St Leger at Doncaster.
But he can expect fierce opposition from warm favourite Rewilding, who recently took the Great Voltigeur at York, following a long lay-off after his promising third behind Workforce in the Derby.
Godolphin are looking to him to provide their sixth win in the world's oldest Classic.
Given has held a license for 12 years. He once had a filly capable of being placed in the Oaks, but his most notable training feat came with a rejuvenated staying handicapper, Hugs Dancer, who won the Chester Cup and Ebor before he 'lost' the gelding to a trainer in Australia.
John Gosden will fit blinkers for the first time on Arctic Cosmos, which finished just over a length behind Dandino in the Gordon Stakes, so that could bring about some improvement.
Godolphin run one of the brightest juvenile prospects of the season in Saamidd, who is a confident selection to win today's Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, while stablemate Janood comes up against 6/1 Guineas favourite Zoffany, trained by Aidan O'Brien, in the National Stakes at The Curragh.
Sariska, meanwhile, is reported to be in fine form as she bids to redeem her tarnished reputation in the Qatar Prix Vermeille at Longchamp tomorrow.
Trainer Michael Bell is hoping last year's dual Oaks heroine does not repeat her antics at York when she refused to come out of the stalls for the Yorkshire Oaks.
The Newmarket handler has left no stone unturned with his team doing their utmost to ensure Lady Bamford's filly consents to race.
"We've had plenty of practice at home with her and we've taken her to Lingfield where we created race conditions as much as possible," said Bell.
"We just hope we haven't got long faces when the stalls open. If all goes according to plan she'll be bang there."
Sariska's pilot Jamie Spencer has his fingers crossed there will be no hitch on the day.
"She's had some stalls training and come through it all with flying colours, but there's nothing like the heat of the moment. Until she jumps out on Sunday we're in the lap of the Gods.
Midday took advantage of Sariska's bad behaviour to win at the Knavesmire and Henry Cecil's charge is also among a field of 12.
2.45 Monsieur Joe
3.20 Dandino (nap)
3.55 Premio Loco
4.25 Nicola's Dream
5.00 Al Khaleej
5.35 Libel Law