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2019 Irish St Leger tips – 7/2 shot can hand Godolphin a second Classic at the Curragh

Cross Counter (centre) winning the Melbourne Cup at Flemington last year.

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the feature Classic on day two of Irish Champions Weekend to provide punters with his tips for the Curragh.

Some great stayers have ventured to the Curragh in search of Classic glory, with the names of Kayf Tara, Yeats and four-time champion, Vinnie Roe standing out on the honours boards. This year’s renewal however, although it features some high-quality stayers, feels more like a trial for the Melbourne Cup than a Classic in it’s own right.

The top six in the market for Sunday’s Irish St Leger all hold entry into that lucrative handicap down-under. Kew Gardens (11/4 William Hill) hasn’t been seen since losing out to Defoe in the Coronation Cup in May, but he looks set for a busy autumn campaign over staying trips and could be hard to beat this weekend.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge will be looking to seal a famous St Leger double this weekend, having triumphed in the British version 12 months ago. Kew Gardens has suffered defeat on both his starts this term, losing out to Morando on a rainy day at Chester, before that surprising submission at Epsom, where the favourite was on the verge of victory, only to be reeled in by Defoe in the dying strides.

It’s clear this has been the target for his intended return for some time now and Kew Gardens could have a little too much class for his rivals. However, during both his two and three-year-old campaigns, Kew Gardens has improved race-upon-race during sustained periods of activity and he’s yet to win on the back of any significant lay-off. He could be in need of the run, after spending over 100 days off the track.
Like three-year-olds Constantinople and Cape Of Good Hope, Southern France has been moved to Australian handlers with a shot at the Melbourne Cup in mind. Aidan O’Brien former charge ended a run of nine-straight defeats here at the Curragh, comfortably staying on to win the Irish St Leger Trial and his new trainers have decided to supplement Southern France into the fray on Sunday, before targeting Australia’s most famous race.

While he may be a sturdy stayer, Southern France clearly doesn’t have the class of some of his rivals and offers little in the way of appeal to me. Joseph O’Brien’s Buckhurst could also take in the Irish St Leger before heading to Flemington later in the autumn, but he’s yet to try his hand at trips beyond ten furlongs and there’s a big, bold question mark next to his stamina.

One who should have no trouble seeing out Sunday’s trip is Latrobe (10/1 Ladbrokes), who crossed the line second behind impressive winner, Flag Of Honour in this Classic in 2018. After campaigning his charge over a mile-and-a-quarter during the first half of the season, during which time Latrobe secured some good results in pattern races, O’Brien finally stepped his former Irish Derby winner back up to a more suitable trip at the Curragh in June.

Latrobe bore down on Twilight Payment at the head of the field in the Curragh Cup but, try as he might, he couldn’t pass his hardy new stablemate. O’Brien’s four-year-old bounced back to winning ways in the Ballyroan Stakes last time out and, although the margin of victory was very slim, Donnacha O’Brien's mount was good value for his victory.

After winning the Curragh Cup, Twilight Payment was transferred to Joseph O’Brien’s yard, with a view to training him towards a tilt at the Melbourne Cup. Despite reaching the age of six, Jim Bolger’s former flag-bearer is in the form of his life and he will make sure this becomes a stern test of stamina. 

Master Of Reality will likely accompany his new stablemate at the head of affairs and he proved at Royal Ascot that he’s a very difficult stayer to pass if allowed to dictate the tempo for too long. O’Brien’s four-year-old was only passed by Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee in the final furlong in the Ascot Gold Cup, but whether he has the change of gear to respond after being passed is debatable.

Salouen is yet to step foot beyond a mile-and-a-half. Yet, Sylvester Kirk’s stable star remains a classy performer not to be underestimated and could be a dark horse worth watching as he makes his Irish debut. Search For A Song may lack the experience of some of her rivals, but she’s shown tenacity and no lack of stamina during her short career so far and will be gaining weight on her older rivals at the head of the betting.

While both are worthy of a mention, I still feel Latrobe is the best each-way punt in the race at 10/1. O’Brien’s former Classic winner may have a slight question to answer over this trip, but he’s a consistent horse who’s proven himself at the highest level. 
That being said, there’s a name closer to the head of the betting that simply cannot be overlooked and that’s reigning Melbourne Cup winner, CROSS COUNTER (7/2 Coral). After losing out to Stradivarius on both his starts this term, Charlie Appleby has decided to swerve another clash with the best stayer in the business and, away from John Gosden’s superstar, I fancy Cross Counter could be too strong for his rivals this weekend.

Appleby’s charge first suffered defeat at the hands of Stradivarius in the Ascot Gold Cup, where James Doyle found himself too far back to mount a serious challenge, on soft ground which was never going to suit. I fancied an upset was on the cards as Cross Counter returned to Goodwood, the scene of his track-record setting performance in the Gordon Stakes 12 months previous. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Stradivarius proved his undoubted class once again, leaving Cross Counter to battle it out with Dee Ex Bee for second place, a fight Appleby’s charge eventually lost.

Before his impressive victory in last year’s main event at Flemington, I was worried Cross Counter wasn’t going to be suited by two miles. His best performance, up until that point, had come over a mile-and-a-half, where he showed a blistering turn of foot to destroy Dee Ex Bee in the Gordon Stakes. At Flemington, Cross Counter proved he had the poise and staying ability to triumph over two miles and he should have no problem adjusting as he drops back in trip for the first time in over a year.

I’m hoping James Doyle will be able to replicate the nerveless ride he gave the ill-fated Sea Of Class in last year’s Irish Oaks, where he knew he was on the strongest stayer in the race and timed his late charge to absolute perfection. The challenge of the Irish St Leger should really suit Cross Counter and he could claim a much-needed victory before returning to Australia to defend his Melbourne Cup crown.

2019 Irish St Leger Tips

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2019 Irish St Leger tips – 7/2 shot can hand Godolphin a second Classic at the Curragh

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the feature Classic on day two of Irish Champions Weekend to provide punters with his tips for the Curragh on Sunday 15th September.

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