Watch the Ladbrokes St Leger live on Channel 4 at 3.50pm
It appeared to be all systems go for Ladbrokes St Leger favourite Kingston Hill in midweek, but the recent bout of sunshine in Doncaster has thrown his participation into doubt, with trainer Roger Varian indicating that his star colt won’t run if the ground is deemed too fast.
Though the prospect of watering was dismissed by clerk of the course Roderick Duncan earlier in the week, he will decide after racing on Friday whether to turn the taps on. If he does, Kingston Hill will almost certainly go to post.
However, if he doesn’t water it’s looking increasingly likely that, for the third time this summer, the son of Mastercraftsman will be pulled out of one of his primary targets, having also bypassed the Irish Derby and the Great Voltigeur in recent months due to unsuitable conditions.
It will be a shame if Kingston Hill doesn’t take his chance but, in any case, he’s no value at around the 5/2 mark. Conversely, at a standout 8/1 with Ladbrokes WINDSHEAR, who appears to act on pretty much any ground, makes plenty of appeal.
Successful in his sole start as a two-year-old, the Hurricane Run colt has done nothing but improve this season and looked a shade unlucky when second to Snow Sky, who he will renew rivalry with on Town Moor this weekend, in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood at the end of July.
Whether he would’ve beaten Snow Sky had he not been denied a clear run is open to question. But he did mighty well to get within a neck of that rival under the circumstances and, given his progressive profile, there’s possibly even better to come from Richard Hannon’s charge.
Indeed, this stiffer test of stamina could unlock further improvement and, though the recommendation is an each-way investment, I strongly believe Winsdhear can provide champion jockey Richard Hughes with a first winner in the world’s oldest Classic.
Bank on Belardo
Estidhkaar is bound to be a warm order in the At The Races Champagne Stakes following his thoroughly impressive victory in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket.
However, while Roger Varian could be out of luck in the St Leger, I reckon he will strike in this Group 2 contest with the highly promising BELARDO, who can be backed at 11/4 with Bet365.
The son of Lope de Vega travelled like a good horse and showcased a good turn of foot when landing a Listed heat in decisive fashion last time. Belardo looks a top-notch performer in the making.
Intrinsic is an essential bet
The Ladbrokes Portland Handicap is fiercely competitive and, though he was a costly loser in the 32red Cup at Goodwood last month, many will be willing to give Muthmir another chance, and understandably so given the manner of his victory at York previously.
I’m firmly in the INTRINSIC camp, though. He had Muthmir around two lengths behind when landing the 32red Cup, but he won with more in hand than the margin of victory suggests so I am confident he will confirm the placings with William Haggas charge on 4lb worse terms here.
Intrinsic failed to put his best foot forward in a Listed event at Newmarket subsequently, but that can be viewed as a mere blip rather than a sign that his progress has stalled. Indeed, with just eight runs under his belt he’s still relatively unexposed and it could be that he’s ideally suited by the hustle and bustle of these big-field sprints.
Australia can underline his Champion status
Over the pond in Ireland the mighty AUSTRALIA will strut his stuff in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, for which he’s a top-priced 2/5 with Paddy Power.
The dual Derby hero proved in no uncertain terms that he’s the real deal when landing the Juddmonte International Stakes at York last month, and it would be a major shock if he fails to deliver again.
The Great Gatsby and Mukhadram, second and fourth respectively in the International, will at least ensure that Australia is given a workout en route to a potential tilt at next month’s Arc in Paris.
2.20 Little Shambles