2018 Doncaster St Leger Odds and Betting Preview
The county of Yorkshire possesses some of the most scenic venues of racecourses throughout England. There are nine racecourses within the White Rose county – Beverley, Catterick, Doncaster, Pontefract, Redcar, Ripon, Thirsk, Wetherby and York.
York is one of the premier venues, along with Doncaster, who host their four-day St Leger meeting, as Classic Group 1 action returns to Town Moor on Saturday afternoon, with the race due off at 15:35 BST.
Fifteen horses currently stand their ground for the one mile, six furlongs and 115 yards contest, as this race will be the conclusion of this season’s Classic flat races, along with the 1000 and 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Oaks and Derby.
Established in 1776, the St Leger is the oldest of Britain’s five Classics. The St Leger is also the final leg of the English Triple Crown, which begins with the 2000 Guineas and continues with the Derby. The St Leger has rarely featured Triple Crown contenders in recent decades, with the only one in recent years being the 2012, 2000 Guineas and Derby winner Camelot, who finished second in the big race.
This year’s renewal has no Triple Crown bids following Saxon Warrior’s victory in the 2000 Guineas, and Masar claiming the Epsom Derby. Neither horse is in the reckoning for this race, but there is plenty of quality around in this competitive Group 1 renewal as you would expect.
Here we will look at some of the main contenders in greater detail to try and point our readers in the right direction for the winner on Saturday afternoon.
All’s well in Aidan’s Garden?
Irish super-trainer, Aidan O’Brien has previously saddled up five winners of the St Leger since 2001, and the boss of Ballydoyle looks to have another very strong contender in Kew Gardens this time around. Kew Gardens is the current ante-post favourite with the bookmakers and can be backed at the best price at the time of writing of 6/4 with 888Sport.
The son of Galileo has been busy this summer with six runs already in the campaign. His most impressive performance came at Royal Ascot in the Group 2 Queens Vase – over the same trip as the St Leger – and he came away with a strong staying four-and-a-half length victory. The only caveat to that victory was Kew Gardens garnered no collateral form in the victory, as he beat two of his stablemates within the placings.
O’Brien currently holds SEVEN of the fifteen entries at the five-day declaration stage, but Kew Gardens does look to be the obvious choice for stable jockey, Ryan Moore. At the current odds of 6/4, I wouldn’t be rushing in to back the colt right now, but the field is likely to cut up further, before the final declarations on Thursday morning. It is plausible that the horse could even go off at odds-on, so the 6/4 could even be deemed as value.
John Gosden’s unbeaten filly, Lah Ti Dar looks to be one of the real dangers to Kew Gardens in this race, with the likely urgings of Frankie Dettori. 188Bet currently go 4/1 on the daughter of Dubawi, and we may not have seen the best of her yet.
It was a couple of levels below the required standard to win a Group 1 Classic, but the manner of Lah Ti Dar’s ten-length hammering of her rivals in the Listed Galtres Stakes over one mile and four furlongs, suggested lots of potential at an even further trip.
Lah Ti Dar is rated just one-pound inferior to Kew Gardens on current official ratings, and while the filly must show her aptitude for the extra two furlongs, the added bonus of three pounds less to carry, could be the defining factor.
Choice for Godolphin?
Charlie Appleby has claimed some of the most prestigious races in 2018, and he has two leading chances in the St Leger, with Old Persian and Loxley within his stable. At the current prices, Old Persian can be backed at the best industry price of 6/1 (generally available), while stablemate, Loxley is a 9/1 shot with William Hill.
My initial advice on both of these horses is to hold your bets until the final declaration stage, even if it shortens the odds on your selection. Ante post betting is a minefield and there’s nothing worse than backing a horse without getting a run.
My preference from the pair is Old Persian, who had Kew Gardens almost two lengths in his wake in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, on their most recent starts. A similar effort here would seriously put the son of Dubawi right in the mix here. One note of caution is that Old Persian has not got any form on ground softer than good.
Others of Note
Mark Johnston’s Dee Ex Bee ran an absolute cracker in the Epsom Derby to finish in second behind Masar, with some more illustrious rivals left in his wake. A tilt at the St Leger has always been on the cards following that performance, and with leading jockey, Silvestre Da Sousa already booked for the ride, Dee Ex Bee could well be reasonable each-way value at a generally available 12/1.
A final word is left for Andrew Balding’s Maid Up, who has been recently supplemented for the St Leger at a cost of £50,000 on Monday. The fast-improving filly can still be backed at 16/1 with William Hill and could also be worthy of each-way calculations, despite having plenty to find on official figures.
Kew Gardens is the obvious yardstick in the race, and is likely to take lots of beating. I’m loathed to tip up a short-priced favourite, but he is the most likely winner in my book.
There are plenty of each-way possibles in the race with Old Persian at 6/1 (provided he runs) and Maid Up worthy of a small investment at 16/1 as the ones to focus on.