Donnacha O'Brien confident over Sir Dragonet William Hill St Leger chance

Sir Dragonet is a striking winner of the Chester Vase
Sir Dragonet is a striking winner of the Chester Vase

Donnacha O'Brien is full of confidence ahead of his William Hill St Leger ride aboard Sir Dragonet.

The son of Camelot was unraced at two and burst onto the scene with an impressive win in the Chester Vase. He was sent off favourite for the Investec Derby and ran well to finish fifth but was beaten at 4/9 on his recent return to action at the Curragh.

He's expected to strip fitter for the outing and is the main market rival to red-hot favourite Logician this weekend.

"I ride him in all his work, he's absolutely flying at home and gives you a very good feel," the jockey told Racing TV.

"It's always an unknown when they step up in trip, but he looks to have every chance of staying it - it's an unknown for plenty in the race. I think Logician is a nice horse, but he's going to have to improve to run to my level of form, being honest, and I think my lad is probably the one to beat."

Mark Johnston has yet to have a St Leger winner and is hopeful either Sir Ron Priestley or Nayef Road will rectify that.

Nayef Road won the Group 3 Qatar Gordon Stakes last month but his main hope is Sir Ron Priestley, who has won five of his six starts this year and put up a career-best to land the Group 3 Ladbrokes March Stakes at Goodwood on his latest start.

The Australia colt is owned by Paul Dean, one of Johnston’s longest-standing patrons, and will be ridden by 49-year-old Franny Norton, whose decorated CV is missing a Group One winner.

Johnston said: "Sir Ron Priestley is going to have to up his game considerably but he’s done everything else we’ve asked of him and so he’s got to have a shot at the St Leger.

“We are under no illusions about the fact he will need a personal best to win. He won a Group 3 race on his last outing, while this is a Group 1 with Classic horses in there and a much taller order. But he stays the trip well and it’s not impossible he could bridge the gap.”

Britain’s winning-most trainer added: “The St Leger is a race I would dearly love to win and it would be fantastic for Paul [Dean] and Franny, who’s as good as ever, to get a big one.

“Paul’s a tremendous owner and has been with us almost as long as I’ve been training. I always say bookmakers make great owners because they’ve made their living out of the fact that we don’t know what is going to win.

“Most of his horses have been called after friends and he gives them a knighthood that they didn’t actually have. I tried to call one Sir Paul Dean but he heard about it just before and asked me not to. The name’s been reserved and there will be a Sir Paul Dean one day.”


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