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Who’s Going To Win The St Leger? A Weekend Racing Preview by our regular correspondent, Hector Steiff

Who’s going to win the St Leger? The oldest classic of the five, for three year old colts and fillies, the St Leger has been run at Doncaster since 1778, though can be traced back to it’s first running at Cantley Common two years earlier. Named after Anthony St Leger, who first proposed the race, it has been at the Town Moor track ever since, and is now the final leg of the two triple crowns for both colts and fillies in their classic season

With the competitiveness of the modern era of racing, it is now rare to get to the September date with a live chance of completing the triple crown, such is the difference in the training of three year olds for races over the bare mile, the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, and the staying trip of the St leger at one mile and three quarters. In recent times, only Camelot, in 2012, has featured in the St Leger with a chance of the triple crown, where he finished second to Godolphin’s Encke

Who’s going to win this year’s St Leger? In a season where there will be no triple crown contenders, it is still a race with a red hot favourite in Hurricane Lane. The winner of the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris, Charlie Appleby’s charge has lost only once in his classic season, to stablemate Adayar in the English Derby at Epsom. The question that will be asked of him on Saturday is whether he will get the extra two furlongs, and we will know the answer by a quarter to four

Town Moor is a galloping track, and that could well suit Richard Hannon’s Mojo Star. He caused something of a shock when splitting the two inmates of Charlie Appelby’s Moulton Paddocks base in The Derby at Epsom at odds of 50/1, but his trainer thinks he might be seen at his best on the Doncaster track, and felt he had excuses when only fifth in the Irish Derby

There’s only one filly left in to take on the boys, and that’s Roger Varian’s Save A Forest, though she also holds an entry in the Park Hill Stakes on the second day of the four day meeting. However, she looked to have the St Leger trip within her range when staying on strongly to win a Listed contest at Newmarket last time out so has some each way appeal with her weight allowance

Of course, Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien will always field a strong team for the final classic of the year, and it is notable that he has supplemented High Definition for this race. A stunning winner of the Beresford Stakes as a juvenile, bursting through from the rear of the field in the final two furlongs, there’s a suspicion that he has not hit his best form yet this term but the trainer must have his reasons to add him in at this late stage. A big run could be on the cards

Sir Lucan and Interpretation still look the most likely pair from Aidan O’Brien’s yard to have a say in this year’s St Leger. Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride for the Ballydoyle team, and he was aboard Sir Lucan when fourth in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at the Ebor Festival last month. Meanwhile, Interpretation is already proven at the one mile and six furlong St Leger trip, having won the Listed Vinnie Roe Stakes at Leopardstown last time out. Town Moor is a similar type of track to Leopardstown, so that earns Interpretation a point in the overall analysis

Johnny Murtagh has had a great year as a trainer, with breakthrough win at Royal Ascot when Create Belief landed the Sandringham Stakes, and now has his chance of St Leger glory with Ottoman Emperor, the impressive winner of the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He stayed on well on the South Downs track, so this step up in trip should be within his range and he’s likely to be in the mix

Who’s going to win the St Leger? Mojo Star, with the track and trip to suit, may well have not hit his ceiling yet. Hurricane Lane is an admirable favourite, and is a proven Group 1 contender, while Ottoman Emperor is from the in-form yard of Johnny Murtagh. Interpretation looks the best equipped of the Ballydoyle team, while High Definition has had the owners stump up the money to supplement him for the race, so may be coming into this slightly under the radar. It’s a strong renewal, but Mojo Star gets the nod in this column

Across in Ireland, there’s a great two days of racing with the Irish Champions weekend, with day one at Leopardstown on Saturday and Sunday’s action from headquarters, The Curragh. This meeting, run since 2014, is now worth over four million Euros in prize money, and attracts the very best horses from top yards on both sides of the Irish Sea

The Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday, at Leopardstown, looks a particularly hot renewal, with St Mark’s Basilica, Poetic Flare and Tarnawa all lining up for the prestigious prize. Last year, it was rated the second best flat race in the world in the Longines ratings, and with subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner, Sottsass only finishing in fourth place behind both Ghaiyyath and Magical it is not hard to see why

The Irish St Leger features too, at The Curragh on Sunday, where Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle and David Menuisier’s Wonderful Tonight both make the trip over. Willi Mullins, the master of Closutton, can never be discounted and he could run both True Self and Stratum in search of classic honours. Aidan O’Brien will of course be well represented for such an important prize, where Japan and Broome both make plenty of appeal

Look out as well for the sprinters in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes, where Kevin Ryan’s Glass Slippers features, and after winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland last November, has to be a warm order for this race, with a warm up third in the King George Stakes at Goodwod sure to have her ready to go on Sunday. However, there’s an emerging sprint star on the scene in Tim Easterby’s Winter Power, and she looks the one to follow for this Group 1 prize

A great weekend’s racing is in store, on both sides of the Irish Sea, and the final classics of the season will be decided amongst a feast of top class action

This preview has been brought to you by our regular correspondent, Hector Steiff

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