Lydia Hislop: Rock looks solid
Racing UK's Lydia Hislop offers us her horse-by-horse guide to the 11 runners in Saturday's Ladbrokes St Leger.
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His measure now looks to have been found after his accidental understudy fourth in the Irish Derby, when performing as pacemaker to the disappointing Libertarian. His turn of foot sealed a muddling Gordon Stakes but he underperformed on fast ground in the Great Voltigeur. He would need rain and might stay, but isn't good enough.
He shaped like the best horse in the steadily-run Gordon Stakes, having not handled the track and been inconvenienced several times in running. Yet he ran Cap O'Rushes to a head in second on the line. Prior to that he was an excellent third against decent older horses over an inadequate trip. Lightly raced and open to more improvement, he boasts stamina and quality on both sides of his pedigree. A lot to like.
It was a belated start to his season but Aidan O'Brien couldn't have hoped for much better than Foundry's excellent second to Telescope in the Great Voltigeur on the colt's second-ever start. His pedigree doesn't shout 14 furlongs but is not bereft of encouragement either and he certainly got 12 furlongs thoroughly at York. He may not want the ground too fast. He's learning fast and a big danger to all if getting suitable conditions.
Since finishing strongly when third in the Sandown Classic Trial, hinting that he would have won in another half-furlong, this horse has had St Leger stamped all over him. He only enhanced that claim with an excellent, if well positioned, third in the Derby and resilient second in the Irish Derby, a race in which the other key representatives of the Epsom form badly underperformed. Rested since, this half-brother to the marathon stayer Saddler's Rock is back to win the race he was born for.
Withdrawn, perhaps prematurely, due to the rain that fell in the hours prior to the Melrose, Great Hall instead takes a large step up in grade here. He comfortably accounted for Debdebdeb and Hawk High last time out, but they were comfortably accounted for in the Melrose, too, so he will need to improve markedly again. The headgear he was due to wear at York is likely to be applied and that's a positive, as it should help him travel better in the early stages. Not a forlorn hope.
A forlorn hope. (Sorry, Havana Beat fans: the gag was too tempting. He keeps finding trouble in running but is going looking for it in Group One class.)
Well ridden but still dominant in the Queen's Vase, conceding 3lb all round as well as winning, and not seen since. The drop in trip by a furlong and a half should be surmountable but more is required.
Gone missing since bombing in the Irish Derby, but it might be that the busy campaign he needed to prove himself worthy of a Classic shot was exactly what undid him at the Curragh. There is some encouragement for this step up in trip on pedigree and run style. The flat, galloping track will also suit him ideally. A big player if he can bounce back for his new yard.
Stop. Beating. This. Horse's. Head. Against. A. Brick. Wall.
He's already outstayed his pedigree with a keeping-on third in the Great Voltigeur. Prior to that he met interference and may have been racing on a part of a track that was disadvantaged on the Wednesday at Goodwood. He's steadily improving but probably not quickly enough. Don't worry if he sweats on the day - he's done that before and run well.
Were it not for a shockingly poor run in the Irish Oaks, this filly might well be favourite for the St Leger. She hails from a family of classy and thorough stayers. She was progressive going into the Oaks and won that strongly-run Epsom classic by dint of her stamina. Trainer Ralph Beckett has said he could find no explanation for her poor showing at the Curragh. She worked unspectacularly to this uninitiated eye at Kempton last week, but it might well have been no more than was asked or expected. Forgive her one off-day and you must fear her.
1 - Galileo Rock
2 - Foundry
3 - Excess Knowledge