LARK­SPUR

Our meth­ods man takes a close look at the fi­nal Clas­sic of the sea­son

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Sys­tems ex­pert runs his rule over the St Leger

The St Leger is the old­est of the Bri­tish Clas­sic races. First run in 1776, it is also the long­est dis­tance race run by the Clas­sic gen­er­a­tion and as a re­sult has a ten­dency to throw up a sur­prise or two.Be­fore we get into the Rac­ing Ahead Form (RAF) pre­view for the race let us look at what the Doncaster race has served up over re­cent years.

2007 LU­CARNO (John Gos­den / Jimmy For­tune)

Ten years ago it was the Ge­orge Straw­bridge silks that were car­ried to St Leger glory by his Amer­i­can bred colt.Lu­carno was by Dy­naformer and out of a Diesis mare, Vignette. The colt came to Town Moor on the back of a win in the Great Voltigeur Stakes atYork and stayed on well un­der Jimmy For­tune to beat Ai­dan O’Brien’s Mahler and Honolulu, who was the 13/8 favourite. The John Gos­den trained Lu­carno was sent off at 7/2 on the day and was well fan­cied by some. The colt ran on a fur­ther six oc­ca­sions but only man­aged to win once more in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at the New­mar­ket July meet­ing the fol­low­ing year. He fin­ished his rac­ing ca­reer un­placed in the Cana­dian In­ter­na­tional at Wood­bine be­fore be­ing re­tired to stud.

1997 SIL­VER PA­TRI­ARCH (John Dun­lop / Pat Ed­dery)

The grey son of Sad­dlers Hall ar­rived at Doncaster on the back of be­ing nar­rowly beaten in the Great Voltigeur Stakes. Sent off at 5/4,Sil­ver Pa­tri­arch won as a de­cent favourite should by tak­ing up the lead en­ter­ing the fi­nal fur­long and scor­ing by 3 lengths from the An­dre Fabre trainedVer­ti­cal Speed. John Dun­lop’s colt wasn’t con­tent with just the one Group 1 win and went on to score from Swain in the 1998 re­newal of the Coro­na­tion Cup and the Gran Premio del Jockey-Club at San Siro in Oc­to­ber of the same year. In his fi­nal sea­son he took the Jockey Club Stakes and the Ge­of­frey Freer Stakes. He was part­nered by Pat Ed­dery on each of his eight win­ning races.

1987 REF­ER­ENCE POINT (Sir Henry Ce­cil / Steve Cau­then)

Ref­er­ence Point was the ul­ti­mate stayer. The son of Mill Reef was re­garded as the sec­ond best Derby win­ner of the 1980s be­hind Sher­gar.In his 3 year-old sea­son he also won the Dante, the King Ge­orge VI & Queen El­iz­a­beth Di­a­mond Stakes, and was sent off the 1/10 favourite for the GreatVoltigeur Stakes where he won af­ter hav­ing slipped and sus­tained an in­jury on the heav­ily wa­tered ground. In the St Leger he started the 4/11 favourite and won by one and a half lengths from Moun­tain King­dom.He was sent off the odds-on favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Tri­om­phe but was found to have been suf­fer­ing from an ab­scess in his foot af­ter fin­ish­ing down the field.That was the last that we saw of the great horse.

1977 DUN­FERMLINE (Dick Hern / Her Majesty the Queen)

The last of our great St Leger win­ners is the Queen’s Dun­fermline. His­tory has a habit of writ­ing it­self and in the Queen’s Sil­ver Ju­bilee year the daugh­ter of Royal Palace landed the Ep­som Oaks and the St Leger to make it an an­nus mirabilis for Her Majesty. The royal con­nec­tion and sense of his­tory was clearly lost on the pun­ters as she started at 6/1 for the Oaks and 10/1 in the St Leger! In the Doncaster race Wil­lie Car­son got the bet­ter of the bat­tle with race favourite Al­leged, rid­den by Lester Pig­gott,win­ning by one and a half lengths. How­ever, the ta­bles were turned at Longchamp with the Vincent O’Brien trained Al­leged win­ning the first of his two Arcs.

ST LEGER RAF PRE­VIEW

The snap­shot his­tory above shows that the Great Voltigeur is a key race in pin­point­ing po­ten­tial win­ners. The Roger Var­ian trained DE­FOE (18pts) heads the Rac­ing Ahead Form rat­ings, and held a host of entries in­clud­ing York, but ran in the Ge­of­frey Freer Stakes at New­bury on 19 Au­gust, where he showed in win­ning that he is a horse on the way up. Tailed off on his fi­nal start of the 2016 sea­son in the Zet­land Stakes,t he Dalakhani colt had rat­tled up a hat-trick of wins in his Clas­sic sea­son in­clud­ing two hand­i­caps and the listed Glas­gow Stakes at Hamil­ton prior to win­ning the Ge­of­frey Freer. The Zet­land Stakes was won by John Gos­den’s Rib­bles­dale Stakes win­ner Coronet, with Derby win­ner Wings Of Ea­gles in fourth and the ill-fated Per­mian in third place. That was a hot race that found him out, so the ques­tion is does the im­prov­ing De­foe have the qual­ity to win the St Leger?

STRADI­VAR­IUS (17pts) has al­ready won the Queen’s Vase and the Good­wood Cup. The son of Sea The Stars does not hold any entries prior to the St Leger at present and John Gos­den may well feel that with stamina proven his colt does not need a prep run and can turn up fresh for bat­tle on Town Moor. An­drea Atzeni is the re­tained jockey for Roger Var­ian and Sheik Mo­hammed Obaid, owner of De­foe, but

he has also rid­den Stradi­var­ius in his last two wins.Atzeni al­ready has two re­cent St Leger wins on his CV, with Kingston Hill (2014) and Sim­pleVerse (2015).Which­ever horse the Sar­dinian born jockey is on needs to be given spe­cial at­ten­tion.

This brings me nicely to a point where we can high­light the de­fi­cien­cies in­her­ent in rac­ing sys­tems. Reg­u­lar read­ers will know that I am a sys­tems nut.In pro­vid­ing a short­hand approach to win­ner spot­ting they have their ob­vi­ous mer­its; how­ever they are not in­fal­li­ble and some­times might­ily frus­trat­ing. In or­der to pro­vide trans­parency to the sys­tems that I write about in this mag­a­zine it is nec­es­sary to stick with the rules even when they throw up anom­alies.

But let us take a fur­ther look at Stradi­var­ius, he has won over 1m6f (Queen’s Vase) and 2m (Good­wood Cup);how­ever, the St Leger is run over 1m6f and a HALF fur­longs. The ex­tra 110 yards means that the colt does not get a ‘D’ in his form line which would mark him up as a dis­tance win­ner and the fact he has won over fur­ther does not count ei­ther. The ex­tra 5 points would put him on 22 points and make him our top-rated horse.

Although De­foe won over a dis­tance of 1m5f and 61 yards in the Ge­of­frey Freer Stakes he is be­ing asked to run one fur­long fur­ther in the St Leger, this I would ar­gue does not en­ti­tle him to the ‘D’ rat­ing. I’m go­ing to sug­gest that this form read­ing shows that Stradi­var­ius is more than ca­pa­ble of be­ing con­sid­ered a dis­tance win­ner as he has ac­tu­ally won over fur­ther. De­foe may be the higher rated of­fi­cially, but in beat­ing Big Orange the Gos­den horse set down a fair marker. That said, An­drea Atzeni al­ready has two re­cent St Leger wins on his CV, with Kingston Hill (2014) and Sim­ple Verse (2015). Which­ever horse the Sar­dinian born jockey is on needs to be se­ri­ously con­sid­ered.

One to note may be Ai­dan O’Brien’s AIR SUPREMACY (15pts) com­pletely un­ex­posed son of Galileo who won his maiden at the third at­tempt at the Cur­ragh on 15 July.The speed fig­ures aren’t that en­cour­ag­ing but he ar­guably rates a bet­ter propo­si­tion than Mark John­ston’s CAPE COAST.

De­foe

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