Matt Brocklebank highlights the outstanding claims of an unbeaten grey from John Gosden's yard ahead of the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster.
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John Gosden and Aidan O'Brien have dominated the William Hill St Leger in recent years, the pair bagging three apiece over the past 12 seasons, and it's shaping up to be another clash between the two powerhouse stables of Britain and Ireland at Doncaster on September 14.
O'Brien is bidding for a treble in the final Classic of the season, having sent out Capri and Kew Gardens to win the two most recent editions, and in Japan he has a ready-made, Group One-winning son of Galileo who seems certain to handle the mile and three-quarters on Town Moor if asked to do so.
The problem with the current market leader, however - and it's an issue that also applies to several other potential Ballydoyle candidates at this stage - is that we have no idea whether the St Leger is an intended target.
If it is, then the 11/2 on offer with Betfair would obviously look too big but there is a general feeling that Japan could ultimately be the best of the three-year-old O'Brien colts, and if that is the case then other races will inevitably be at the very least considered.
At the time of writing, Japan holds entries in the Juddmonte International at York and QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, as well as the Leger, Irish St Leger and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Interestingly, Kew Gardens went for the Great Voltigeur after winning the Grand Prix de Paris en route to Doncaster, but Japan isn't entered in that recognised Leger trial at the Ebor Festival, so perhaps his major end-game this year will be all about Paris on the first Sunday in October.
As for the rest of the O'Brien candidates towards the head of the betting for the St Leger, Investec Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck looks a risky proposition after his laboured effort in cheekpieces in the King George.
Surprise Irish Derby victor Sovereign clearly has abundant stamina and he'll presumably be aimed towards a Leger, whether that's the Doncaster or Curragh version is guesswork - there's just the one day between them.
Broome looks like being the principal O'Brien runner in this year's Voltigeur, although that could all change if Sir Dragonet emerges as an intended starter at York. The latter made a massive impression with his Chester Vase success on just his second career start back in May and confirmed himself a top-class colt in the making when a close fifth in the Derby.
He's a forgotten horse in some respects and his Group Three Royal Whip Stakes entry at the Curragh (Friday August 16) suggests he's almost ready to return. Ladbrokes have him as low at 7/1 for the Leger, with 16s available elsewhere, so he's certainly still a bit of a mystery in terms of not only how good he could be, but also where we might see him next.
Others in the mix for Ballydoyle are Royal Ascot handicap one-two South Pacific and Constantinople, who both ran again last week at Goodwood. South Pacific was pitched into the Goodwood Cup and ended up sixth of the eight runners, beaten almost 10 lengths by Stradivarius, when seemingly not all that happy on the track.
Constantinople is a fascinating horse and I'd happily back him to reverse Gordon Stakes form with winner Nayef Road, and confirm his superiority over third home Spanish Mission, were they all to meet again at Doncaster.
Constantinople is described as being a "baby" by O'Brien, who feels he's a horse for the top mile and a half races next year.
He looked inexperienced in the finish when going down by just a neck to the hardy Nayef Road, but would surely be seen to better effect on a more conventional track. He's arguably not screaming out for a step up in distance, though, as while he's by Galileo there is a paucity of stamina on the dam's side of his pedigree.
It's to team Gosden for a bet, then, and the unbeaten LOGICIAN (12/1 generally) who, given all the uncertainty with the aforementioned handful, could quite conceivably end up favourite.
That will all depend on his performance in the Voltigeur, of course, but at least we have a very good idea of how the rest of his campaign pans out, with York and Doncaster his only two current engagements.
Gosden has won the Voltigeur four times with Lucarno, Centennial, Thought Worthy and Cracksman and Logician heads to the York Group Two with a growing reputation on the back of winning a maiden (1m2f), a Newmarket novice under a penalty (1m2f) and a Newbury handicap (1m4f) from a mark of 90.
Now rated 101 by the BHA, he's still got ground to make up from a bare figures perspective but the Voltigeur is the ideal springboard and the grey's form continues to work out.
From his three racecourse appearances Logician has beaten a hatful of subsequent winners including dual scorers Dubai Tradition who was third to him at Newbury first time out, Away He Goes who followed him home at Newmarket, and Just Hubert, William Muir's colt who was third in the Newbury handicap and has since gone in at Ripon and Sandown.
The son of Frankel devours the ground with a giant stride and he promises to improve again when stepped up in trip. His half-brother Suffused was a winning stayer and everything about him and the way he goes through his races would suggest the St Leger trip will be well within his compass. The prospect of soft ground at Doncaster would also hold no fears as he's already proven on good to soft and the majority of Frankel's progeny seem to go through it better than most.
Stablemates Star Catcher and Promissory are very different types but both would make for interesting contenders if standing their ground while some firms have priced up Yorkshire Oaks-bound Anapurna and the once-raced Dubai Warrior - also from the Gosden camp - so there's presumably a chance they could be supplemented into things much closer to the race (September 9).
But we'll get Logician on side now at double-figure prices in the hope that the galloping grey lights up York two weeks on Wednesday before heading to Doncaster with outstanding claims of giving Gosden a fifth victory in the famous race.
Published at 1445 BST on 05/08/19.