Commentator Mike Cattermole previews St Leger Day at Doncaster and he thinks Aidan O'Brien can win the season's final Classic for the seventh time.
Logician is probably a worthy short-priced favourite for the William Hill St Leger – after all, he is unbeaten and shapes as though a test of stamina and the long straight at Doncaster will suit him down to the ground, which being fast, should also not be a problem.
He is trained by four-time winner John Gosden and Frankie is on board and he certainly had the Leger look at York when his big stride saw him bounding clear in the Great St Voltigeur, one of the great Leger trials.
Yet neither Constantinople nor Norway, second and third at York, have been pitched in here for the rematch by Aidan O’Brien and that may be significant.
Gosden is looking for a fifth Leger of course but Aidan is chasing his seventh - and his third in a row - with Sir Dragonet seemingly looking the pick of the yard’s three runners.
Go back to the Chester Vase in May when Sir Dragonet looked a class apart, with both Dashing Willoughby and Technician languishing a long way behind in third and fifth places.
It was very exciting and although that was on soft ground, Sir Dragonet put up arguably as good a performance on good to firm in the Derby, for which he was favourite, looking the likely winner only to flatten out and finish a very close fifth.
On the face of that, you might argue that he didn’t quite see out the trip, or maybe it was a lack of experience, but certainly his only run since at the Curragh last month was a little disappointing even if it was over a mile and a quarter.
However, it looks as though he has been primed for this Classic and a look at his pedigree – his sire Camelot was second in the Leger and his second dam is a sister to Galileo and Sea The Stars – gives encouragement that he will stay.
But, there are clearly ifs and buts there.
Certainly there are no issues about stamina with stablemate Il Paradiso after a much improved close third to Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee in the Lonsdale Cup over two miles.
That was on good to firm and before that he had hacked up over a mile and a half in a handicap at the Curragh also on a similar surface.
He is improving rapidly, has no issues on ground or trip and is on offer at a best price 13/2 at the time of writing. It is hard not to see him being involved.
With the other stablemate, Western Australia likely to be deployed as a pacemaker and the presence of two runners from Mark Johnston, the likelihood is that this Leger may not be a vintage one but it will be a proper stamina test and Il Paradiso looks best suited to cope.
Since the Chester Vase, Dashing Willougby has shown himself to be a smart stayer, winning the Queen’s Vase over a similar trip to this at Ascot (a race that Kew Gardens won last year en route to Leger glory) and running quite well in both the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket and Goodwood Cup.
However, he was given a much bigger beating by Stradivarius there than Il Paradiso was at York.
Technician won the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury in gutsy style but that was on soft ground. He has handled quicker conditions and this trip could suit him as he just keeps going and the track could also help.
Mark Johnston’s name will surely join the Leger role of honour in time and both Sir Ron Priestley and Nayef Road have identical ratings of 108, which leave them both with something to find.
Indeed, Nayef Road was readily held by Logician in the Great Voltigeur but Sir Ron has been a revelation and clearly loves fast ground – the only failure this season came on a soft surface.
But this admirable trier is expected to find this step in class a bit too much.
So, Il Paradiso can get the better of both Logician and Sir Dragonet.
Last year, A Momentofmadness had the Portland Handicap sewn up a long way out and yet is able to come back and try and win it again off a 4lb lower mark.
There was definitely a lot to like about his most recent start at York when Justanotherbottle (won well since) was behind him in ninth.
There are plenty of options in what is always a tough race to call and you can tie yourself up in knots but, if the Charlie Hills team have William Buick’s mount back to his best, he should take come catching.
Speaking of front-running, Shine So Bright will be out to make every post a winning one in the Group Two Hird Rail Group Park Stakes.
He denied Laurens a nose in the City Of York Stakes last time, his first start since running sixth in the 2,000 Guineas. His defeat of Space Traveller (rec 4lb) earlier in the Free Handicap also reads well.
Laurens, meanwhile, bids for her seventh Group One in the Coolmore Matron Stakes over at Leopardstown but I wonder if a peak-form Hermosa (a dual Guineas winner, don’t forget) may be too strong. The Ballydoyle filly was clearly not right last time.
Earlier, in a cracking renewal of the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, a line with Crystal Ocean suggests that there will be little between Magical and Elarqam so with the filly being around 15-8 and the Johnston contender around 7-2, he has to be given the nod.
Sheikh Hamdan could even get the 1-2 with Madhmoon as this trip could be ideal for him.
Doncaster 1.50 A MOMENTOFMADNESS, 2.25 SHINE SO BRIGHT, 3.35 IL PARADISO
Leopardstown 4.15 ELARQAM, 5.25 HERMOSA