The worlds oldest Classic, the Ladbrokes St Leger, has attracted 43 entries for the 2013 renewal. Boasting a record prize fund of £600,000 and run over one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards, the Ladbrokes St Leger takes place for the 237th time on Saturday, September 14, at Doncaster.
Aidan OBrien was narrowly denied a clean sweep of English Classics and an historic Triple Crown last year when Camelot could only finish second to Encke at Doncaster. Irelands champion trainer looks set to be well represented this year with 12 entries including Leading Light, who is Ladbrokes 5/1 joint-favourite following a game success in the Group Three Queens Vase at Royal Ascot.
The Ballydoyle handler has also entered Irish Derby third Festive Cheer, Investec Derby fourth Battle Of Marengo and Eye Of The Storm, who hasnt run since going down by a head in the Group Three Sandown Classic Trial in April. Completing OBriens dozen entries are Fortify, Foundry, Kingdom, Plinth, Sir Walter Scott, The Vatican, Victory Song and Waver.
Galileo Rock was third, half a length behind Eye Of The Storm, at SandownPark but the David Wachman-trained colt shares favouritism with Leading Light following a pair of fine efforts in Classic company.
The son of Galileo stayed on well at Epsom Downs to finish third in the Investec Derby at the start of June before filling the runner-up spot in the Irish Derby at the Curragh on June 29.
He is set to try and continue a fine family record on Town Moor as his three-parts brother, Saddlers Rock, captured the two and a quarter-mile Doncaster Cup at the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival in 2011.
Wachman commented: We are definitely thinking about the St Leger for Galileo Rock. He has come out of his run in the Irish Derby fine and there is not a bother on him.
I suppose that his second behind Trading Leather was his best run to date, although his run at Epsom wasnt too bad either. The Irish Derby was a good race and we will see how the form stacks up when the winner runs in the King George this weekend.
Galileo Rocks pedigree suggests that he is going to get better with age and we are hopeful that he can keep improving.
The St Leger is still a long way away and there is no rush to decide where he runs next - we will make up a plan as we go along.
Epsoms Classic form may also be represented by Talent and Secret Gesture, who were first and second respectively in the Investec Oaks. Ralph Beckett, who is responsible for both fillies, saddled the 2008 Oaks winner Look Here to finish third at Doncaster in 2008. The last filly to win the Ladbrokes St Leger was the Clive Brittain-trained User Friendly in 1992.
Investec Derby runner-up Libertarian may bid to bounce back from a disappointing seventh in the Irish Derby and he could be joined by fellow Godolphin contenders Cap ORushes, who finished fourth in the Irish Derby and Secret Number.
John Gosden boasts a superb record in the Ladbrokes St Leger with four victories from his nine most recent runners. The Newmarket handler may be represented by Feel Like Dancing, who battled to victory over Jathabah and Havana Beat in the Group Three Bahrain Trophy at Newmarkets July Festival, Excess Knowledge andNicholsCanyon.
Sir Michael Stoute enjoyed a first victory in the Ladbrokes St Leger in 2008 with Conduit - his 26th runner in the race - and the trainer could have another Ballymacoll Stud-owned contender in Liber Nauticus, who was fifth in the Investec Oaks on her latest outing.
The trainer could also bid to give The Queen another major staying prize following Estimates Gold Cup success with Bold Sniper, victorious in a 12-furlong Ascot handicap on July 13. The Queen last enjoyed Classic success in the 1977 St Leger when the filly Dunfermline famously got the better of subsequent dual Prix de lArc de Triomphe victor Alleged.
The late Sir Henry Cecil won the Ladbrokes St Leger on four occasions and his widow Lady Cecil has made two entries - the unbeaten Mighty Yar and Retirement Plan, owned by Khalid Abdullah and successful in a mile and a half maiden at Doncaster on June 16.
A total of six French-trained horses have won the Ladbrokes St Leger since 1945, most recently Toulon in 1991. The one entry from the other side of the Channel this year is Pacific Rim. Owned by the Wildenstein family and trained by Mikel Delzangles, the Singspiel filly has won three of her four starts, most recently taking the Group Two Prix de Malleret at Saint-Cloud on June 25.
In addition to the 12 entries from Aidan OBrien and Galileo Rock, there are a further four Irish-trained entries. These include the Mick Halford-trained Dabadiyan, owned by the Aga Khan and a comfortable winner of his latest two starts at the Curragh and Weather Watch, who has landed his last two races for Jessica Harrington at Tipperary and Leopardstown. John Oxx could be represented by Little White Cloud, sixth last time in the Irish Derby, who carries the colours of American owner Neil Jones, successful in the 2000 St Leger with Millenary.
The last horse trained in Yorkshire to win the Ladbrokes St Leger was Bollin Eric in 2002. Trainer Ann Duffield supplies the one entry from Yorkshire this year in Willie The Whipper, who ran a good race to finish a staying-on sixth in the French Derby.
Opening prices from Ladbrokes: 5/1 Galileo Rock, Leading Light; 10/1 Libertarian; 14/1 Talent, Pacific Rim; 16/1 Battle Of Marengo, Bold Sniper, Dabadiyan, Eye Of The Storm, Festive Cheer, Liber Nauticus, Mighty Yar, Secret Gesture; 20/1 Feel Like Dancing, Mutashaded; 25/1 Cap ORushes, Excess Knowledge, Foundry, Kingdom, Little White Cloud, Retirement Plan, Sir Walter Scott, Weather Watch; 33/1 Contributer, Havana Beat, Secret Number, Testudo, The Vatican; 40/1 Elidor, Great Hall, Nichols Canyon, Renew, Victory Song, Willie The Whipper; 50/1 Fortify, King George River, London Bridge, Plinth, Spillway; 66/1 Dashing Star, Jathabah, Ralston Road, Waver (1/4 odds 1,2,3)
Hayley OConnor of Ladbrokes said: There appears to be plenty of depth to the entries and we think Leading Light and Galileo Rock currently set the standard for the final Classic of the season.