By Simon Jackson.
Roger Varian is confident Derby runner-up Kingston Hill will stay the 14 and a half furlongs of the Ladbrokes St Leger as 15 runners remain in the £650,000 contest at Doncaster on Saturday.
The 2013 Racing Post Trophy winner justified connections’ high opinion when putting a disappointing run in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas behind him to finish a one and a quarter length second to Australia in the Investec Derby.
The son of Mastercraftsman was then a late scratching due to firm ground from the Irish Derby won by Australia. When last seen the Paul Smith-owned colt was a staying-on fourth in the 10-furlong Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park in July and Varian says the grey is in good order for the last Classic of the season.
“Kingston Hill is in good form,” Varian said at a media lunch in London on Monday. “We are very happy with him and planning to run him in the Ladbrokes St Leger on Saturday.
“I was glad to see there was a drop of rain at Doncaster on Saturday as it had looked to be a very dry forecast. We will have to see how it plays out but at this time of the year with longer nights and dew in the morning it should help the ground retain some moisture.
“It was not a big issue having to miss the Great Voltigeur Stakes as York was actually not that long ago. We purposely gave him a break after the Eclipse and we weren’t sucked into any of the big summer races like the King George. He has not been at full throttle all year.
“The way the Eclipse panned out it was a bit frustrating as it effectively developed into two different races. We like to think we won the second race. Although he was only fourth, it was a pretty good performance from him that day on quick ground. He will appreciate the step up in trip on Saturday.
“Andrea Atzeni will ride. He has ridden him on all his starts bar the Eclipse. He sat on Kingston Hill a few days ago and was really pleased with his condition so it’s all systems go.”
“We are pretty confident Kingston Hill will get the trip. The truth will be in the test on Saturday as he has never run over the distance before. He was ridden aggressively in the Derby from an inside draw and he had every chance to shape like a non-stayer at Epsom, but he galloped all the way to the line. Andrea has always felt he would get the trip and I am sure he will do so.”
The 2014 Ladbrokes St Leger
£650,000 Total Prize Fund, Group 1, part of the British Champions Series. Doncaster, Saturday, September 13, 2014, 1m 6f 132yds. For three-year-old entire colts (9st 1lb) & fillies (8st 12lb). Entries closed Tuesday, July 22, entries revealed Wednesday, July 23 (33 entries). Scratchings deadline August 26 (21 remained), five-day confirmation & £50,000 supplementary stage September 8 (15 remain), final declarations 10am September 11.
|Alex My Boy (IRE)||Jaber Abdullah||Mark Johnston|
|Forever Now (GB)||Lady Bamford||John Gosden|
|Granddukeoftuscany (IRE)||Triermore Stud/Sue Magnier||Aidan O’Brien IRE|
|Hartnell (GB)||Sh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum||Mark Johnston|
|Kingfisher (IRE)||Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor||Aidan O’Brien IRE|
|Kings Fete (GB)||Khalid Abdullah||Sir Michael Stoute|
|Kingston Hill (GB)||Paul Smith||Roger Varian|
|Marzocco (USA)||HRH Princess Haya of Jordan||John Gosden|
|Min Alemarat (IRE)||Ahmad Abdulla Al Shaikh||Marco Botti|
|Odeon (GB)||Alex Owen||James Given|
|Romsdal (GB)||HRH Princess Haya of Jordan||John Gosden|
|Scotland (GER)||Fitri Hay||Andrew Balding|
|Snow Sky (GB)||Khalid Abdullah||Sir Michael Stoute|
|Somewhat (USA)||Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum||Mark Johnston|
|Windshear (GB)||Michael Daniels||Richard Hannon|
Betting: (Ladbrokes) 5/2 Kingston Hill, 5/1 Snow Sky, 6/1 Romsdal, 8/1 Windshear, 14/1 Hartnell, Scotland, 16/1 Alex My Boy, Forever Now, Kingfisher, Kings Fete 20/1 Granddukeoftuscany, 25/1 Marzocco, 33/1 Min Alemarat, Somewhat, 40/1 Odeon
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.