Irish raiders Ballydoyle are looking for their fifth success in the Doncaster showpiece but Newmarket trainer John Gosden has a 33 per cent strike rate in the last nine years by saddling three winners.
And the Timeform boys reckon he’s about to make it four on Saturday…
Harbour Law (Laura Mongan) Lightly raced colt who has progressed well for current yard, winning maiden at Salisbury and handicap at Sandown in May. Useful efforts since when three-quarters of a length second to Sword Fighter in Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and less than two lengths fourth to Housesofparliament in Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket. Proven stayer, but something to find with a few of these.
Harrison (Mick Channon) Son of St Leger winner Sixties Icon. Only win in a maiden at Goodwood last year but shown useful form on occasions this term, notably when around length and a half third to Housesofparliament in Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket. Further behind same rival when fourth of six to Idaho in Great Voltigeur at York last time, though, and up against it.
Housesofparliament (Aidan O’Brien) Smart colt who has won maiden at Dundalk and Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket this year, forging away late in latter from above-named pair. No match for stablemate Idaho in the end but put up best effort from front in Great Voltigeur at York last time. Second-best of his stable’s entries on that evidence but that could easily be good enough to run into a place.
Idaho (Aidan O’Brien) Brother to stable’s high-class performer up to a mile and a half Highland Reel and nearly as good himself now. Maiden winner on debut last year and placed first four starts this term, notably behind Harzand in Derby and Irish Derby. Made himself stable’s clear number one for this when beating Housesofparliament by length and three quarters in Great Voltigeur. Well on top at York (when typically edgy/sweating beforehand) and undoubtedly the pick on form but does have stamina to prove.
Muntahaa (John Gosden) Lightly-raced colt who made debut over 1m in April but quickly proved smart over longer trips, winning maiden at Kempton and listed handicap at Chester. Made all for short-head win against older rivals last time from BHA mark of 108. More needed, but unexposed as a stayer, looks sure to stay extra furlong, and very much respected for stable that has won this four times.
Ormito (Andrew Balding) Only win in Haydock maiden at two but placed several times in small fields this year and runner-up last two starts behind Ventura Storm in listed race at Hamilton and Kings Fete in Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, beaten length and a quarter in both. Form not that solid but at least has very stout pedigree to call upon.
Sword Fighter (Aidan O’Brien) Most proven stayer among stable’s entries, three wins including Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot (from Harbour Law and Twilight Payment) and Curragh Cup. Briefly looked like beating some of the top older stayers in Goodwood Cup last time before finishing fifth to Big Orange. Makes running, and prospects of holding on for a place.
The Tartan Spartan (John Patrick Shanahan) Not an obvious stayer on breeding but shown stamina is his forte in just two starts, winning maiden at Thirsk on heavy ground before staying-on seventh (beaten around six lengths) to Sword Fighter in Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot. Stiff task after a break.
Ventura Storm (Richard Hannon) Seemed exposed but smart efforts to win last two starts, following listed win at Hamilton (conceding weight to Ormito) with Group 3 success at Deauville. Made most in latter over extended mile and a half but not crying out for any further.
Timeform St Leger 1-2-3
- Sword Fighter
Timeform Analyst’s Verdict:
MUNTAHAA has seemingly been brought along with this race in mind, and though Idaho undoubtedly sets the form standard, John Gosden’s unexposed colt looks sure to relish this longer trip, which swings the vote in his favour, as the short-priced favourite isn’t guaranteed to be as effective at this distance. Sword Fighter is likely to be ridden prominently again and he could hold on for a place.