The final English Classic of the year takes place on September 10. Can Aidan O’Brien return from Doncaster having trained a seventh St Leger winner?
This year has so far seen Aidan O’Brien win just one of the four Classics. Tuesday won the Oaks but 2022 could still be a big year for the Irish trainer. November will see him taking a strong team to the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Keeneland. Runners such as Tuesday, Luxembourg and Stone Age are due to travel to America and O’Brien looks like having a strong list of contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Before that great horse racing meeting, it’s the St Leger and this is a race that O’Brien has had great success in. He first won the St Leger in 2001 and his sixth win came four years ago. His best hope of winning this year lies with Changingtheguard who is the third favorite at present.
The three-year-old has won three of his four races this season. That’s after failing to win any of his three races as a two-year-old.
The St Leger is run over a mile and six furlongs and it’s a distance Changingoftheguard should be competitive over. His last run was a win in the Group 2 King Edward II Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 17. That was a hard fought short head victory over Grand Alliance but he did stay on well to get that win in the mile and a half race.
That’s not the longest distance that Changingoftheguard has raced over. His impressive six and a half length win over New London in the Chester Vase was over an extra half furlong than his Royal Ascot win. New London has won twice since then (one in Group 3) and currently heads the St Leger market. Changingoftheguard has a great chance of confirming that Chester form
Another strong contender from the Aidan O’Brien yard is Aikhal Two races this season have had very different results. His seasonal debut was in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. That came after a 234 day break and Aikhal weakened to finish last of the 11 runners.
Much better form came 11 days later at the Curragh. Aikhal won the Group 3 ARM Holding International Stakes run over a mile and two furlongs. That win certainly wasn’t expected and those who had backed Aikhal at odds of 20/1 must have had a good night out, the betting offers aggregator informed. He was staying on well in that race and this extra distance may bring out further improvement.
United Nations is another Aidan O’Brien runner to consider despite not being seen on a racetrack since May. That was when United Nations won the Lingfield Derby trial, though second placed Walk of the Stars went on to finish last at Epsom. With Galileo as a sire, United Nations will be an interesting runner at Doncaster.
Also entered for the St Leger are Point Lonsdale, Emily Dickinson and Bluegrass. Point Lonsdale won four times as a two-year-old but was 10th in the 2000 Guineas in his only race this season.
The latter two are outsiders but have both proved they can last out the 14 furlongs. Emily Dickinson was third in the Lily Langtry Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and could be handy if showing improvement.
According to the market, New London and Westover are the ones to beat. However, Aidan O’Brien knows how to win this race and a seventh victory can’t be ruled out.