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Kew Gardens on course for St Leger with Capri aimed at Prix Foy return

Jonathan Vine 5 Sep 2018
Aidan O'Brien (right) and his team celebrate after Capri's victory in last year's St Leger.

Aidan O’Brien addressed the press on Wednesday, discussing his plans for the St Leger and the imminent return of last year’s Classic winner at Doncaster.

With gangs of reporters never too far from the gates of his famous Ballydoyle base, the horse racing world stops whenever Aidan O’Brien offers an insight into his plans. This morning, Ireland’s champion trainer spoke to the press, informing them that current ante-post favourite, Kew Gardens was well on-course towards the St Leger.

It took his three-year-old a few starts to find his feet in 2018, with Kew Gardens falling to a couple of surprise defeats on his first two start in England. After performing front-running duties in the Derby, O’Brien upped Kew Gardens in trip at Royal Ascot and the son of Galileo hasn’t looked back.

A superb victory in the Queen’s Vase was followed by a maiden Group One triumph in France, where Kew Gardens scored a comfortable victory in the Grand Prix de Paris. That win meant Kew Gardens would shoulder a penalty in the Great Voltigeur Stakes on his St Leger prep-run and Ryan Moore’s mount produced an admirable performance to pass the post less than two lengths behind Old Persian in third.

“I was delighted with Kew Gardens’ run.” O’Brien told the RacingUK this morning. “It was not ideal having a penalty, but we felt we had to have a run and we thought that was the perfect place to give him a prep.

“Ryan Moore was delighted with him and obviously he stays further. We always thought Doncaster would suit and hopefully the ground will be nice there.”

Kew Gardens won’t be the only Ballydoyle representative in the St Leger and eight of the 18 names in the current entries for the St Leger are trained by Aidan O’Brien. While the likes of Rostropovich, The Pentagon and Flag Of Honour remained in the mix, O’Brien all-but confirmed the participation of both Nelson and Southern France during this morning’s interview.

"Nelson will handle ease in the ground and stays very well, while you'd imagine Doncaster, a lovely flat track, would suit Southern France."
Ryan Moore riding Kew Gardens (l) leads the Queens Vase on day 2 of Royal Ascot.

Aidan O’Brien will be hoping Kew Gardens, or any of Ballydoyle boys, will follow in the footsteps of Capri, who handed O’Brien a fifth St Leger in 2017. Capri kicked off this season with a narrow victory in Group Three company, after which O’Brien was confident his colt would improve. Sadly, Capri never got the chance, as a shoulder injury meant he would spend a spell on the sidelines.

With the St Leger are the forefront of everyone’s mind, it was only natural for reporters to inquire about the fitness of last year’s champion and O’Brien confirmed Capri was now back in full training and being aimed at an outing in the Prix Foy next weekend.

"He (Capri) had a racecourse gallop last week and he's been back in full work for about eight weeks." O’Brien continued.

"The plan with him is to go to France for the Prix Foy and then if that goes well, we might go back to the Arc."

After this revelation, Paddy Power clipped Capri’s odds in the Pric Foy betting, listing the reigning St Leger winner as the 3/1 this favourite, behind Talismanic and Waldgeist. Capri went on to finish 17 of 18 in last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but his current lengthy odds of 25/1 will be cut if the four-year-old makes a winning return in the Prix Foy.

Kew Gardens position at the head of the St Leger betting was cemented after connections of main rival, Lah Ti Dar intimated that a trip to France was her top priority. Paddy Power currently offer quotes of 11/8 on Kew Gardens winning the St Leger, with stablemates Southern France and Nelson sitting on prices of 10/1 and 20/1 respectively.

*Current ante-post betting markets with Paddy Power*
St Leger (Doncaster 15/9/18)
11/8 Kew Gardens, 5/1 Old Persian, 6/1 Lah Ti Dar, 8/1 Latrobe, 10/1 Southern France, 12/1 Dee Ex Bee, 14/1 Bar

Prix Foy (Longchamp 16/9/18)
9/4 Talismanic, Waldgeist, 3/1 Capri, 5/1 Crystal Ocean, 6/1 Clincher, 13/2 Cracksman, 9/1 Cloth Of Stars, Defoe, 12/1 Bar

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Kew Gardens on course for St Leger with Capri aimed at Prix Foy return

Aidan O’Brien addressed the press on Wednesday, discussing his plans for the St Leger and the imminent return of last year’s Classic winner at Doncaster on Wednesday 5th September.

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