THE postponement of the Cazoo St Leger by 24 hours and 25 minutes shouldn’t really have any material impact on the race.
New London is still the correct favourite, the Gordon Stakes winner, the Godolphin colt who was a Derby contender before he was beaten by Changingoftheguard in the Chester Vase.
Since then, he has won a heritage handicap at Newmarket, and he followed up by winning the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, a race that is usually a good pointer to the St Leger.
Not only that, but the Gordon Stakes runner-up, Deauville Legend, won the Great Voltigeur next time, and Hoo Ya Mal, third in the Gordon Stakes, the Derby runner-up, won the March Stakes next time.
But you can pick holes if you want to. Deauville Legend was conceding a 3lb penalty in the Gordon Stakes, and he probably improved anyway to win the Great Voltigeur, while Hoo Ya Mal won a moderate renewal of the March Stakes next time. And, for all that New London shapes as if he will stay, his stamina is not assured.
He is by Dubawi and, while his dam is a half-sister to St Leger winner Masked Marvel, and to the dam of Waldgeist, her best runs were over 10 furlongs and she was well beaten on her only run at a mile and a half.
Also, New London’s full brother, Al Dabaran, recorded both his wins over seven furlongs, and his half-brother Warning Fire never went further than a mile.
It’s not that New London definitely won’t stay, he may well stay and, if he does, he could win easily, but he is short enough for a horse who still has to prove that he will, and it may be worthwhile looking beyond him.
Haskoy is a fascinating addition to the race. Ralph Beckett could have run her in the Park Hill Stakes on Thursday against the fillies and mares, a race that has been won by a three-year-old three times now in the last three years, so the decision to supplement her to the St Leger was a brave one.
The Juddmonte filly was seriously impressive in winning a 12-furlong novice stakes at Wolverhampton at the end of July on her racecourse debut, and she stepped forward markedly on that last time in winning the Listed Galtres Stakes at York.
She was back in the field from early and she came under a ride at the top of the home straight, earlier than most.
She responded gamely to Ryan Moore’s urgings however and, despite the fact that she had to make her ground towards the far side, probably on the worst of the ground, to get up and win by a neck.
That was just her second run, and she still looked green, so she could improve considerably for that experience. And, a daughter of Golden Horn out of Natavia, who won over 10 furlongs and is a sister to 12-furlong winner Ottavio and to staying hurdler Shannon Springs, she could improve for the step up in trip.
She certainly races as if she will appreciate a greater stamina test than that provided by 12 furlongs at York.
At more than twice her odds, however, French Claim is even more interesting. Paddy Twomey’s colt was seriously impressive in winning over 10 furlongs on soft ground at Cork on his debut this season.
He raced just twice as a juvenile last season, and he still showed signs of inexperience at Cork, but he came clear of his rivals inside the final furlong to win by nine lengths.
He has been highly tried in both his subsequent runs. On his penultimate run, he chased the pace that Stone Age set in Leopardstown’s Derby Trial in May before those exertions told inside the final furlong, and he just kept on to finish third.
Then last time, in the Irish Derby, he led until the two-furlong marker and, while he couldn’t repel Westover, he kept on after he was passed to retain third place.
The step up in trip tomorrow should suit him, as should the easier ground.
He is another who has to prove his stamina, but he races like he will improve for going beyond a mile and a half, and he holds an entry in the Irish Cesarewitch.
He did have the 12-furlong Group 3 race at Leopardstown today as an option, so it is interesting that his trainer – who has a 28% strike rate for the last five seasons and a 33% strike rate this season – is happy to spin the wheel in the St Leger.
The Coral Portland Handicap looks typically competitive, and Whenthedealinsdone is favourite for it, but he is the 5/1 favourite, and that looks fair.
A dual winner last season as a three-year-old, he reportedly bled from the nose in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood in July. He put that run behind him next time when he put up fine performance to finish second in a five-furlong conditions stakes at Nottingham in early August, and he stepped forward from that last time when he won a five-furlong handicap at Ascot.
Roger Teal’s horse was seriously impressive in winning that day. He travelled like the most likely winner from a long way out.
The handicapper raised him by 10lb for that win, but he deserved a significant hike, and it was a Class 2 handicap, so he doesn’t have to step up in grade.
Also, it was on easy ground at Ascot, and Ascot form often translates well to Doncaster, a track at which he has run well in the past.
The step up to five and a half furlongs today should suit well, he saw out Ascot’s stiff five furlongs on easy ground well last time, and his high draw shouldn’t be a disadvantage.
Chipstead is a danger, he was really impressive in winning at Sandown last time, but that was in a Class 4 handicap, and he has to step up in grade today off an 8lb higher rating.
Intrinsic Bond goes well at the track and he comes into it, if you can allow him his latest poor run at Thirsk. All things into the mix, Whenthedealinsdone is the bet.
Whenthedealinsdone, 2.10 Doncaster Sunday, 5/1 (generally), 1 point each-way,
French Claim, 3.55 Doncaster Sunday, 14/1 (generally), 1 point each-way