Storm The Stars looks an outstanding bet to win the Ladbrokes St Leger
The Ladbrokes St Leger looks set to attract another single-figure field and a low British turnout after just 12 horses were left in the race after the latest declaration stage.
Aidan O’Brien, who has won four St Legers, is responsible for half of those and they include the current Ladbrokes betting odds of 11/4 favourite Order Of St George, while British interests are represented by just four horses, headed by William Haggas’ Great Voltigeur winner Storm The Stars at a best-priced 4/1.
The York race has proved a solid trial to the St Leger, though you have to go back to Lucarno in 2007 for the last winner to do the double, and Storm The Stars looks an above average winner. The son of the exceptional Sea The Stars has not looked back since winning a Leicester maiden back in April, going on to be placed in two Classics – the Epsom and Irish Derbys – and a French Group 1. The York win was no more than he deserved then, though he had to survive a Stewards’ enquiry after wandering across the track close home and giving the O’Brien-trained runner-up Bondi Beach a bump in the process.
There was just half a length separating the pair at the line and it’s easy to understand why ante post punters have been backing the second to reverse the form – he’s a best-priced 5/1 shot currently. He’ll be the fresher horse of the pair having had just four starts and one outing since the end of June, whereas the Haggas horse has been on the go since April and will be having his ninth start of the current campaign in the Doncaster Classic.
That would normally set the alarm bells ringing but Storm The Stars may prove to be an exception as he clearly thrives on his racing and, indeed, his trainer said in a recent interview that the horse hated inactivity and sulked if he spent too long in his box. What’s more he has reportedly taken the York race well according to Bruce Raymond, racing manager to the colt’s owner Sheikh Juma Dakmook Al Maktoum.
He said: “Storm The Stars has come out of York in great form and everything is fine with him. I thought it was a good performance in the Voltigeur. He was game and really stuck his head down in the final furlong. That form looks strong and I think he’s the one they have to beat at Doncaster. The others need to improve to beat him – I’m not saying they won’t, but they need to. I think he’ll be more effective over a mile and three-quarters. He wants this trip.”
Given that resounding vote of confidence I’m inclined to believe he will confirm York running with Bondi Beach, and also prove too strong for that horse’s stablemate Order Of St George. While the latter was very impressive when winning the Irish St Leger Trial at the Curragh on his latest start, the form needs treating with a degree of caution. The second Sea Moon was having his first outing for nearly a year and clearly ran out of puff close home, while the third Kingfisher ran miles below his best. The bookmakers may well have overreacted then by cutting him into just 11/4.
There are others to consider of course and in particular Bahrain Trophy winner Mr Singh, who is bidding to give his trainer John Gosden a fourth win in nine runnings of the Classic. But I have my doubts as to whether he’s quite in the same class as Storm The Stars, who has been superbly campaigned by Haggas this season and whose Classic form is rock-solid, but he’s still worth a free bet all the same. He’s bidding to become the 13th horse to win the Voltigeur and the St Leger and I see no reason why he can’t.
Storm The Stars @ 9/4 with Ladbrokes