David Ord provides a horse-by-horse guide to Saturday's William Hill St Leger and has an each-way bet against the market leaders.
DEE EX BEE: Stand-out piece of form is his second to Masar in the Investec Derby and he’s a huge threat to all if anywhere near that level here. He promises to relish the extra distance and any rain is in his favour but he’s been somewhere below that Epsom form in three subsequent starts and has questions to answer now.
KEW GARDENS: Lot to like about his third in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur under a five-pound penalty last time, making good headway having been left with a lot to do. He looks a stronger stayer than his conqueror Old Persian there and is expected to reverse that form on the revised terms and clearly a major player with a Queen’s Vase and Grand Prix de Paris already on his CV.
LOXLEY: Thriving at present and made short work of his rivals in a Group Two contest at Deauville last time. He travels well through his races and has a change of gear too and a threat to them all following confirmation he runs.
NELSON: Looked set for a good season when landing the Ballysax back in April but not gone on from there and used as a pacemaker for Kew Gardens in the Great Voltigeur last time.
OLD PERSIAN: Only defeat in last four came when sixth behind Latrobe in Irish Derby but readily excused that given the quick turnaround from his win at Royal Ascot and the way the race panned out. Bounced back at York last time and a cracking colt for Godolphin to go to war with but the worry is the trip. Nothing he’s done before suggests he’s crying out for a mile and six as he shows a lot of speed. Big danger to all if he does stay.
PROSCHEMA: Posted a career best when third in the Sky Bet Melrose at York last time, ridden with more restraint than before. There could be more to come – but needs to be stepping up to the elite level.
RAYMOND TUSK: Won the Glasgow Stakes at Hamilton before chasing home Hamada in the Geoffrey Freer. Nice colt who goes well through his races and should relish the step up in trip but he has a fair bit to find on all known form.
WATCH: David Ord and Ben Linfoot discuss the St Leger Festival
SOUTHERN FRANCE: Improved with each run, chasing home Kew Gardens in the Queen’s Vase and then doing well to finish fourth in the Irish Leger Trail having been in an impossible position turning in. He looks like a very smart stayer in the making and the sort to thrive in a race like this. An interesting each-way proposition.
THE PENTAGON: Fifth in both the Irish Derby and Great Voltigeur. Things didn’t quite pan out for him in either race but it’s a huge leap of faith to see him suddenly blossoming into a Classic winner.
ZABRISKIE: Third in the Dante at York but nothing he’s done since suggests he’s ready to land a Leger.
LAH TI DAR: Long been held in the highest regard and showed why when spreadeagling her field in the Galtres Stakes last time. That was her first start since May after being ruled out of the Investec Oaks and other summer shopwieces. The Vermeille had been mooted as a more likely target than Doncaster but it's a real shot-in-the-arm for the Classic that she heads here. It’s a question of whether she has the stamina – not the ability – for this.
MAID UP: Won handicaps at Doncaster, Goodwood and Ascot this season and picked up a first pattern prize with a decisive success in the March Stakes last time. Clearly at the top of her game right now and easy to understand why connections have opted to supplement her but this looks a warm Leger and she needs another bundle of improvement.
A fascinating renewal of the William Hill St Leger. Kew Gardens is clearly a leading player but I'n not surprised she's been replaced at the top of the market by Lah Ti Dar. She looked a Group One performer when winning at York last time and is a fascinating runner. However the bet looks to be SOUTHERN FRANCE. He's a stablemate of Kew Gardens and while beaten by him in the Queen's Vase, looks the sort to develop into a top stayer in time. This race and track should suit and he can hit the frame at a decent each-way price. Loxley appeals as the pick of the Godolphin pair.