Saturday 25 February 2017

Seville set to lead St Leger assault

Thomas Kelly

BALLYDOYLE supremo Aidan O'Brien has opted to leave three of his charges in Saturday's Doncaster St Leger as he bids to end his three-year wait for an English Classic.

The success of Henrythenavigator in the 2008 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket was the last time the O'Brien yard captured one of the five Classics across the water, and the trainer would dearly love to bridge that gap.

O'Brien, whose most recent of three Leger wins came with Scorpion in 2005, was expected to only field Seville, but has left in Epsom Oaks runner-up Wonder Of Wonders and lightly raced maiden winner Freedom.

The likelihood is that he will still just rely on Seville, but O'Brien was keeping his options open yesterday and did not reveal any jockey bookings.

"Seville was always the most likely one we were going to go with, but the filly (Wonder Of Wonders) ran a good race in the Yorkshire Oaks," the trainer explained.

"We thought she wanted better ground, but we are going to wait as she also has the option of dropping back to a mile and a quarter at Longchamp.

"Misty For Me might go back for that race (Prix de l'Opera), so we'll have a look later in the week. She's only a possible.

"With Freedom, we were going to see how the race made up and see if there was enough pace for everyone. It looks like there will be plenty of pace so he might not go, but that's by no means certain."

Hot favourite is Michael Stoute's Sea Moon after his devastating eight-length victory in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, while Godolphin could be triple-handed after Rumh was supplemented to set the pace for second-favourite Blue Bunting, winner of the English 1,000 Guineas, Irish and Yorkshire Oaks, as well as for Genius Beast.

Tom Dascombe, meanwhile, has spoken of the decision taken to replace Richard Kingscote with Kieren Fallon for the ride on Michael Owen's Brown Panther.

Kingscote has been with Dascombe since the early days in Lambourn and has remained his first jockey after the trainer upped sticks to Owen's stable in Cheshire.

Kingscote has been on board for each of Brown Panther's seven starts, from a good win in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot to a luckless run in the German Derby, and in his most recent outing, when second to Census in the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury.

The Leger is the only one of the English Classics that Fallon has not collected, but his big-race know-how was the cause of the change in plan.

"It has been a very tough, hard decision to make, but I spoke to Michael at length and it was decided on this occasion to go for a more experienced jockey," said Dascombe. "It has not been an easy decision, but it is the one we have come to."

Closer to home, O'Brien's Fame And Glory has been installed as the 5/4 favourite for Saturday's Irish St Leger after featuring among 13 confirmations for the race.

The five-year-old suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Fictional Account in the trial race at The Curragh last month, but Paddy Power make him their clear market leader and offer 12/1 about Fictional Account, which reopposes for Vincent Ward after being supplemented for the race.

O'Brien also has Apache in the field, while Dermot Weld's Sense Of Purpose is the other leading home-trained challenger.

challenge

The British challenge appears strong -- headed by Mark Johnston's Jukebox Jury, Godolphin's Opinion Poll and John Gosden's Duncan, which could clash again after fighting out the finish to the Lonsdale Cup, a race in which David O'Meara's Blue Bajan finished seventh.

The Ed Dunlop-trained Red Cadeaux, David Lanigan's Meeznah, Times Up from John Dunlop's yard and Mark Tompkins' Ted Spread complete the line-up.

The Jessica Harrington-trained Dragon Pulse and Jeremy Noseda's Talwar have been added to the field for Saturday's National Stakes.

The latter is also engaged in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on the same day, as is O'Brien's Power, winner of the Coventry Stakes.

O'Brien also has Futurity second Astrology among his 10 possibles along with Choir, Crusade, Daddy Longlegs, David Livingston, Furner's Green, Reply, Tenth Star and Vault.

Irish Independent

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