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2018 St Leger tips - Star-rating guide to Doncaster's famous Classic

Jonathan Vine 13 Sep 2018
A view of the stands during the St Leger.

Our expert lists the key players in this year’s St Leger and rates their chances of winning the final Classic of the season at Doncaster out of five stars.

The last and most historic Classic of the British flat racing season is almost upon us and a strong field look set to assemble in the 2018 renewal of the St Leger. First run 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.

Sadly, none of the winners of the previous British Classics will be strutting their stuff in the St Leger, but viewers can still look forward to an intriguing renewal on Saturday. Our expert has put together this star-rating guide – looking at each of the contenders in a little more detail and rating their chances of winning at Doncaster out of five stars.

2018 St Leger Star Rating Guide


Mark Johnston's colt has finished inside the places in five of his six appearances this season, with his runner-up finish to Masar in the Derby a very strong piece of form to bring into the St Leger. 

Worryingly for Mark Johnston, Dee Ex Bee has been fairly uncompetitive on all of his last three runs and produced a tired effort behind Cross Counter at Goodwood. Dee Ex Bee is a dour stayer and should be suited to this kind of trip, but recent performances seem to suggest his busy campaign is catching up with him.

Dee Ex Bee Star Rating ⭐ 3.5 ⭐


Two early-season defeats when carrying very short prices on his first two appearances saw Aidan O’Brien use his charge as a pacesetter in the Derby, with Donnacha O’Brien’s mount fading to eventually finish ninth.

A step up in trip at Royal Ascot, however, has brought around a change in fortunes. Kew Gardens sauntered to a comfortable win the Queen’s Vase, a result the Galileo colt followed with a maiden Group One triumph in the Grand Prix de Paris. 

Kew Gardens ran brilliantly to claim third when shouldering a penalty on his Leger prep-run in the Great Voltieur. On paper, Kew Gardens is the outstanding candidate, but at his current price, there are others who hold greater appeal.

Kew Gardens Star Rating  4.5 




After being forced to sit out the Oaks and Royal Ascot after picking up a virus, Lah Ti Dar returned to the track in scintillating style during the Ebor Festival. John Gosden’s girl was always going to be a cut above her rivals in the Galtres Stakes, but the ease with which Frankie Dettori’s mount dealt with the challenge to score a ten length victory was hugely impressive.

Lah Ti Dar was so impressive at York, it's no surprise to see her leap to the head of the betting after she was confirmed as a runner by John Gosden. Going from Listed class to Classic company may seem like a huge leap, but Sea Of Class proved it could be done when winning the Irish Oaks. However, she's up against some confirmed stayers and 15/8 is too short a price for a filly making her Group One debut in Classic company.

Lah Ti Dar Star Rating ⭐ 4.5 ⭐


Loxley gave away plenty of experience to the likes of Wells Farhh Go, Giuseppe Garibaldi and First Eleven in the Bahrain Trophy, but looked composed throughout the race and saw out the 13 furlong trip very nicely when passing the post a two-length second.

Since then, Charlie Appleby's colt has claimed two big prizes in France, running out an easy winner in Listed and Group Two company. In the Grand Prix de Deauville, William Buick positioned his mount perfectly just off the pace. As rival upon rival came off the bridle, Loxley cantered to the head of affairs before surging clear to claim a maiden pattern race title.

Appleby has Old Persian in the race and William Buick will ride Godolphin first string. However, I'm a big fan of this horse and I feel he has the class to progress past his stablemate. With James Doyle in the saddle and a favourable each-way price to boot, he's going to be my 2018 St Leger selection.

Loxley Star Rating ⭐ 5 ⭐


It’s been an incredible rise to prominence for Andrew Balding’s filly, who started the season as a 67-rated maiden running in Class Five handicaps at Chepstow. Maid Up’s fortunes turned here at Doncaster, where she powered to a first career victory over ten furlongs and the daughter of Mastercraftsman has gone from strength-to-strength since.

Two further handicap triumphs earned Maid Up a spot in the Lillie Langtry field at Glorious Goodwood, where Pilaster had to pull out all the stops to deny Rob Hornby’s mount. A second pattern appearance at Goodwood followed and Maid Up made up for her Lillie Langtry disappointment by beating Be Vrackie in the Group Three March Stakes.

Maid Up has progressed with every run this term, she’s a winner over this trip and one from one around Doncaster. I still feel she’s lacking the class of some of her counterparts in this year’s St Leger, but a clear run could see Maid Up challenge for a place. 

Maid Up Star Rating ⭐ 3.5 ⭐




At the start of the season, I tipped up Nelson as a good each-way bet in the ante-post Derby betting. Sadly, Aidan O’Brien’s colt has so far been unable to build on a promising juvenile campaign and he’ll likely be used as a pacemaker for some of his more capable teammates.

Nelson Star Rating ⭐ 2.5 ⭐


Charlie Appleby's colt proved his St Leger credentials at York, outstaying Cross Counter to score in the Great Voltigeur. The only disappointing result of Old Persian’s season came in the Irish Derby and Charlie Appleby surely regrets turning his charge out again just a week after his triumph in the King Edward Stakes at Ascot. 

There's no chance Old Persian will be underestimated again after scoring in two major races. Old Persian looks like a confirmed stayer and has the potential to challenge on just his second Group One appearance. I just feel there are classier entrants in this year's St Leger.

Old Persian Star Rating ⭐ 4 ⭐


Tom Dascombe has always thought very highly of this improving colt and he produced his best performance of the season on his most recent start, running on well to finish third in a hot handicap at York. While that was the performance of a potential Group horse, Proschema is completely untested outside handicap company and he’s just there to make up the numbers.

Proschema Star Rating ⭐ 2.5 ⭐

Frankie Dettori riding Lah Ti Dar easily win The British EBF & Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes at York .



Everyone was surprised when Richard Hannon decided to enter Raymond Tusk into the Coral-Eclipse and no-one was surprised to see Hannon’s charge finish near the rear of the field. Since then, he’s won a Listed race and finished second in a Group Three, but it’s still very doubtful whether he has the class to win at this level.

Raymond Tusk Star Rating ⭐ 3 ⭐


Southern France made eye-catching late progress when finishing second to Kew Gardens in the Queens’ Vase at Ascot. Aidan O’Brien’s charge then produced a disappointing performance in the Curragh Cup, where he was sitting last entering the final three furlongs and could only overtake three of his seven rivals.

O'Brien's colt looked a smart stayer in the making at Royal Ascot, but he's flattered to deceive since and it would be a surprise if he turned out to be the best of the Ballydoyle bunch.

Southern France Star Rating ⭐ 3.5 ⭐
 

This time last year, The Pentagon was leading the way in the ante-post betting for the Derby. Sadly, O’Brien’s colt simply hasn’t trained on in 2018 and it would be an almighty shock if he ended this lengthy losing run in Classic company at Doncaster.

The Pentagon Star Rating ⭐ 2.5 ⭐

Full St Leger Star Rating Guide

⭐ Loxley - 5 ⭐
*
Kew Gardens - 4.5
Lah Ti Dar - 4.5
*
Old Persian - 4
*
Dee Ex Bee - 3.5
Maid Up - 3.5
Southern France - 3.5
*
Raymond Tusk - 3
*
Nelson - 2.5
Proschema - 2.5
The Pentagon – 2.5

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2018 St Leger tips - Star-rating guide to Doncaster's famous Classic

Our expert lists the key players in this year’s St Leger and rates their chances of winning the final Classic of the season at Doncaster out of five stars on Saturday 15th September.

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