As September approaches, so too does the end of the 2022 flat racing season. Talk might already be starting to turn to the new National Hunt campaign, but the curtain can’t be drawn on the flat just yet — with major end of season meetings still to come across the UK and Europe, including the St Leger, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and British Champions Day at Ascot on October 15th.
It’s the former we are going to focus on in this article. The final of the five British Classics, the historic St Leger pits the best three-year-old colts and fillies in the UK and Ireland against each other over a testing one mile and six-and-a-half-furlong trip — making it the longest of the prestigious Classics, as well as the oldest.
So, with the Leger due to take place at Doncaster on September 10th, let’s take a look at the early entries ruling the roost in the ante-post market and analyse their chances of landing a monumental victory in South Yorkshire. Read on to find out more.
Those who bet on horses will often look no further than a Godolphin-owned favourite, with the trainer/jockey partnership of Charlie Appleby and William Buick one of the best in world racing let alone in the UK and Ireland.
And odds-on St Leger favourite New London (8/13)has the form to back the Moulton Paddocks duo. The three-year-old won a Novice Stakes at Newmarket on his reappearance, but was stunned by Changingoftheguard next time out in the Group 3 Chester Vase.
He has progressed emphatically since that defeat though, returning to Newmarket to win a Heritage Handicap in July before winning at Group level in the John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes (Group 3) at Glorious Goodwood.
The withdrawal of Irish Derby winner Westover and Aidan O’Brien’s Changingoftheguard means that New London is now lacking a bit of real competition in the Leger. It looks like it could be back-to-back wins in the Classic for Appleby and Buick.
The lightly-raced Eldar Eldarov is next in line in the betting at 6/1. The Roger Varian-trained horse comfortably won a Maiden Stakes at Nottingham on debut last October in his only appearance as a two-year-old, and carried that winning form in to this season.
The KHK Racing-owned horse started the year with a Novice Stakes victory on the all-weather at Newcastle and went on to win the Group 2 Queen’s Vase over 1m6f at Royal Ascot — progressing nicely through the levels and up in trips.
Eldar Eldarov suffered his first defeat last time out, however. Sent to Paris Longchamp for the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris, the three-year-old was sent off as the favourite. But he could fare no better than fourth in the six-horse field.
That was a step down to 1m4f, though. Sent out back over the longer St Leger trip, Eldar Eldarov could be back in contention. His Queen’s Vase win is arguably proof of that.
Another horse out of Moulton Paddocks, Secret State is Appleby’s second chance to bag a second British Classic this season — and 2000 Guineas-winning jockey James Doyle will likely be in the saddle.
The three-year-old has had his fair share of outings in what is his debut campaign, racing six times this year. After finishing second in a Maiden at Newmarket on his first appearance, Secret State went on a run of four success wins — including victories in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot and a Handicap at Glorious Goodwood.
However, he was beaten last time out at York in his first group attempt — finishing almost three lengths behind winner Deauville Legend in second in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur. The Dubawi colt will have his work cut out over an additional two furlongs and against better opposition.