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2019 St Leger ante-post tips – Two selections in the final Classic of the season at Doncaster

Jonathan Vine 5 Sep 2019
Logician (left) cruising to victory in the Great Voltigeur Stakes.

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the final Classic of the season at Doncaster and highlights two horses to back in the ante-post market.

The last, and most historic, Classic of the British flat racing season is a month away and a strong field look set to assemble in the 2019 edition of the St Leger. First staged way back in 1776, this one-and-three-quarter mile contest has been won by some of the best horses in flat racing history, with greats like West Australian, Ormonde and Nijinsky sealing the fabled Triple Crown right here at Doncaster.

The key trials for the St Leger have all taken place and the field field is starting to become a little more clear. So, our expert has cast his eye through the current betting and come up with two horses he will be backing.

2019 Ante-Post St Leger Tips

looks to be the horse to stop at Doncaster, following his victory in the Great Voltigeur Stakes. John Gosden’s dazzling grey carried an unbeaten record into York, having made it three-from-three on his handicap debut at Newbury in July. Constantinople stood in Logician’s way and, when Aidan O’Brien’s colt loomed into contention at the three-pole, an upset looked to be on the cards.

Frankie Dettori asked Logician to repel his challenger and the pair had soon opened up a two-length gap. Try as he might, Constantinople was unable to bridge the deficit, allowing Logician to cruise over the line a comfortable victor and establish himself as the firm St Leger favourite.

The betting now suggests Constantinople will swerve a rematch with Logician, with the Irish version of this Classic his most-likely objective. Derby winner, Anthony Van Dyck and Broome, who has been sold to a Japanese owner who’s favouring the Arc, may also be absentees at Doncaster, but that doesn’t mean Aidan O’Brien won’t play a strong hand.

This year's beaten Derby favourite, Sir Dragonet made his long-awaited return at the Curragh last month, carrying a short-price into the ten-furlong Royal Whip Stakes. Ryan Moore bided his time near the rear of the field, with most onlookers expecting the same electrifying finish Sir Dragonet produced at Chester to win the Dee Stakes. The favourite, however, found surprisingly little when push came to shove, with Moore nursing his mount home in fourth when it became clear he wasn’t going to challenge.

Stablemate, Il Paradiso has come in for plenty of support in recent weeks, having finished just a length behind Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup during the Ebor Festival. Two furlongs from home, O’Brien’s charge looked to have seen off Dee Ex Bee, but as John Gosden’s all-conquering stayer came through on the inside, Il Paradiso had no response, relinquishing second to Dee Ex Bee in the dying strides.

Of the two, I’d prefer to side with Sir Dragonet over Il Paradiso in the Leger. While it’s obvious he’s been a very difficult horse for O’Brien to get right, there’s untapped potential in his boots and I’d rather bet on the class-angle than a potential two-miler in Il Paradiso.
That being said, I’d be surprised if either were good enough to deny LOGICIAN (5/4 William Hill) and, even at his mightily short price of 5/4, there’s still value to be found in backing John Gosden’s riding star to win this season’s final Classic.

It would be quite boring if I threw all my eggs into Logician’s basket and, with a large field likely to take part in this year’s renewal, there’s plenty of scope for a long-odds, each-way punt.

Technician threw his hat into the St Leger ring at Newbury in August, picking off hot-favourite Morando to win the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. Sir Ron Priestly progressed nicely through the handicap ranks during the summer, before securing his spot in this Classic by claiming victory in the Group Three March Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. Both seem to have more to offer, but I’m not sure either have the class needed to win one of flat racing’s most prestigious prizes.

Search For A Song ran well to place fourth in the Irish Oaks on just her third career-start and proved she was a lively outsider in the Classic betting by winning the Galtres Stakes during the Ebor Festival. Moonlight Spirit built on his fourth in the Queen’s Vase by winning a pattern race out in France recently and he could garner some each-way support.
Another contender who's taken an unusual route to Doncaster is DASHING WILLOUGHBY (25/1 William Hill), who has been in with his elders since winning at Royal Ascot. Andrew Balding's colt may not have been able to beat some very classy older rivals, but the experience he gained at Newmarket and Goodwood will stand him in excellent stead as he drops back into his own age group in the Leger.

Oisin Murphy was so confident Dashing Willoughby would see out 14 furlongs, he sat just behind the pace for the entirety of the Queen's Vase. Murphy's mount wandered a little to his left as he engaged in a furious battle with Nayef Road and Barbados. Yet, he was strong enough when it mattered to see off all his rivals and claim a half-length victory.

Balding's youngster then made most of the running in the Tattersalls Stakes, eventually fading back to fourth as Communique came through to claim victory. With two furlongs to go in the Goodwood Cup, Dashing Willoughby hit the front, but found the two-mile trip a little too challenging and crossed the line a nine-length fifth.

Returning to the trip he won over at Ascot will be a boost and his form stacks up with most of the leading contenders at Doncaster. To see Dashing Willoughby languishing down at 25/1 is an opportunity I don't want to pass up, so he'll be my second ante-post punt, alongside Logician.

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2019 St Leger ante-post tips – Two selections in the final Classic of the season at Doncaster

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the final Classic of the season and highlights two horses to back in the ante-post market at Doncaster on Saturday 14th September.

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