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2004 St. Leger Preview
A shorter version of the following article by Steve Miller appeared in Raceform Update on September 8, a few days before the running of the 2004 St. Leger.
to take care of business
MOST CONTESTANTS of any St. Leger are untried at the distance, as they are relatively young horses in their Classic season, and this year is no exception. The race is no respecter of class and quality thoroughbreds that have been successful at shorter trips, including Derby and Oaks winners, have been found wanting in this. Perhaps partly because the race can embarrass many of the best, connections of good horses have been prone to turning their backs on it and some breeders can perversely seem almost apologetic about their stallions having actually won the race. However, the Town Moor spectacle retains a magic unique to itself in the Flat season and enthusiasts of the sport still appreciate the oldest classic as the final leg of the true Triple Crown and ultimate endorsement and test of the range of a three-year-old thoroughbredís capabilities.
Superior stamina is a must for this mile and three-quarter plus event. But with so many untried at the distance we need to look to something to give us an edge in predicting the outcome. The Dosage system has proved invaluable in providing this edge. It has helped us over the years to identify those likely to succeed in the St. Leger and has proved particularly useful in analysing those major races that require a test of stamina. It helped us, for example, to predict the 35/1 straight forecast in this yearís Ascot Gold Cup in this column.
No contenders for the Triple Crown have shown up in this yearís renewal to emulate the likes of the all-conquering Nijinsky, or Oh So Sharp (the last to be successful in the fillies version of the Triple Crown). This yearís Derby winner North Light was an early defector from the race, but we do still have the second, third and fourth placed horses from the Derby.
The 13 that have been confirmed for Saturdayís race appear in the following table. In crude terms those with the most stamina potential appear at the top and those with the least at the bottom. Those marked in bold show Dominant Classicity (where the points in the central Classic category are greater than the sum of the points in the other four categories combined), which means that they should stay at least as far as their headline figures suggest. However, since the majority in the race show Dominant Classicity we ought not to get too fixated on this factor in isolation.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Maraahel won the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood in good style and looks like he has a chance of getting the St. Leger trip, but with just a single stamina point in his profile there are others in the field who look like more fully appreciating the step up to a mile and three-quarters. It is likely that he will take his chance on good or faster ground.
Maraahelís stablemate Quiff propelled
herself into the reckoning for this after running away with the Group 1
Yorkshire Oaks. Khalid Abdullaís filly is lightly exposed. She is by
Sadlerís Wells out of a Selkirk mare and shows Dominant Classicity. She cannot
be lightly dismissed but is likely to need some cut in the ground to be seen at
her best and it is possible that she will be rerouted to the Prix Vermeille at
Andrew Balding, who was responsible for
Pheonix Reachís placed effort in this last year, behind Brian Boru, saddles
Albinus who has close form with Frank Sonata and Pukka in a Listed race at
Haydock. Albinusís dam Alouette was successful in Listed company at a
mile-and-a-half and his chance at the trip resides with his dam side influences,
primarily the Mill Reef-Shirley Heights-Darshaan line.
Frank Sonata has been pleasing connections
recently, but the points total in his Dosage profile is on the low side for a
reliable reading as to his chances. He nevertheless does have three stamina
points deriving from Herbager (Classic/Solid) on his sireís side and Busted
(Solid) on his damís side, so cannot be ruled out.
Let The Lion Roar made an eye-catching
late burst behind North Light in the Derby, but looked more one-paced in the
Irish equivalent. More recently he has put up a creditable performance in again
finishing a place behind Rule Of Law in the Great Voltigeur Stakes. With
Sadlerís Wells as his sire and Dancing Brave as his damsire the St. Leger trip
should not pose a problem. Indeed it could bring out the best in him and help
him to emulate his half brother Millenary who won this four years ago for John
Godolphin has previously been successful
in this with Classic Cliche, Nedawi and Mutafaweq and their sole chance of
securing a fourth victory, now that the unbeaten Into The Dark has been ruled
out, rests with Rule Of Law who finished runner-up in the Derby and confirmed
form with Let The Lion Roar in the Great Voltigeur Stakes Ė the pair finishing
first and second in a slow time. The colt seems to stay better than his pedigree
suggests (being by Kingmambo out of a Royal Academy mare), but whether he can
find the additional reserves of stamina required for the St. Leger is another
Percussionist who was just run out of a
place in the Derby tailed off in the Irish equivalent and clearly something was
amiss. His disappointing run in Ireland was put down to a tough race at Epsom
and he has been given a complete mid-season break. Connections are pleased with
his recent homework. He had looked a strong St. Leger contender prior to his
last run and comes to the race a fresh horse. He is not certain to run though as
connections state that he has other options at Longchamp (Prix Niel) and
Darsalam has been given the go-ahead for the St. Leger after recently winning the Czech equivalent and is one of those that show Dominant Classicity.
Aidan OíBrien was responsible for nine of the 19 acceptors and has left five of those in at the five-day stage. Go for Gold finished runner-up to Maraahel in the Gordon Stakes and was staying on well for third in the Great Voltigeur, but was made to look very ordinary behind Day Flight earlier in the season. However, that earlier form may best be forgotten, as he appears to be on the upgrade.
Mikadoís pedigree shows plenty of
stamina being by Sadlerís Wells out of a Shirley Heights mare. He was the only
three-year-old to run in this yearís Ebor and put up a fine performance to be
beaten two-and-a-half lengths into third. He would have to be respected in this.
Mikado (like Acropolis and Book Of Kings) is also entered for Fridayís Listed
Troy Stakes, however.
Two Miles West also did well against older
horses in Listed company at Leopardstown and being by Sadlerís Wells out of a
Slip Anchor mare will relish the step back up in trip. He features at the top of
our list and is the only one to show a negative centre of distribution, which
makes him an ideal choice from the point of view of required stamina. He has
only been beaten by one horse of his own generation in all four of his races
(Duke Of Venice in the Queenís Vase at Ascot) and although he may need to
improve again in terms of ability to win this he shouldnít be far away.
However, it looks unlikely that he will get the cut in the ground that he needs
to ensure that he takes part.
His stablemate, the enigmatic Tycoon, has an excellent 12-furlong plus pedigree being by Sadlerís Wells out of a Rainbow Quest mare. He has improved for stepping up from seven to 12 furlongs (finishing third in the Irish Derby) and can improve again at further. He was blocked in the King George just as he was making an eye-catching run from the back and many believe he may have gone close in that. He subsequently tailed off when dropped back to 10 furlongs in the Juddmonte International. Tycoonís dam sire Rainbow Quest is not included as a chef-de-race, but is included on the supplementary list for dam sires as an influence for dominant stamina. This allied to the fact that Sadlerís Wells is his sire and that he has Dominant Classicity should ensure that he gets this trip. While his performance last time out is a big worry the trip and the going may have been against him at York. Like Brian Boru last year I feel there is a big race waiting to be coaxed out of Tycoon and the maestro of Ballydoyle is the man to do it if the colt has it in him. With the going likely to be on the fast side of good I am optimistic that he will take part and if he does I do not believe Tycoon will fail through lack of stamina.
Consequently Tycoon is taken to hold sway over Quiff, Percussionist and Let The Lion Roar. Two Miles West holds good chances against these when considering his stamina profile (the same applies to Mikado) but the going could be against him. He needs to improve, but could represent the best of the outsiders. The likely favourite Rule Of Law may struggle to fully stay the trip for Godolphin.
This is the Racing Postís after-race analysis:
A thrilling outcome to the final Classic, with as fine a front-running ride as
you're ever likely to see from Kerrin McEvoy on RULE OF LAW, who held on
by the skin of his teeth from Quiff, with Tycoon staying on into third place.
Whatever the merits attributed to various horses in this race, the crucial
factor was the lack of pace which turned a supposed stamina test into a sprint
finish. That was largely thanks to McEvoy, who knew what he had to do on a horse
of questionable stamina, and did it with uncanny skill.