Defoe all the rage for Saturday's St Leger with soft ground forecast

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Defoe – 5-1 with Boylesports

First run in 1776, Doncaster’s St Leger ( the ldest Classic horserace in the world )  may not be the force of old when stamina was an integral part of a horse’s pedigree, unlike today where speed appears to be the be all and end all of the breeding world, but the extended 1m 6f contest is still very much alive and kicking and while the 2017 renewal may lack the quality of a bygone age it has attracted a high-class field of stayers and a competitive beating medium.

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Recent heavy rain on Town Moor has rendered the going soft, heavy in places, a situation which has been the cause of both delight and dismay among connections of the principal contenders. While Roger Varian, trainer of the strongly-fancied Defoe, expressed his charge as “ very comfortable under soft conditions “ adding that “ testing ground should suit our guy,” James Horton, assistant trainer to Sir Michael Stoute who will be attempting to win the Classic for a second time since eventually breaking his duck with Conduit in 2008, was less pleased with the current conditions for ante-post favourite Crystal Ocean, saying: “ He wouldn’t want it too soft. He won on soft at Goodwood but, stepping up to a better class of opposition, the better the ground the better.”

A general 3-1 chance just a few days ago Crystal Ocean can now be freely backed at 4-1, the same price as Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Derby winner Capri, but all of the recent money has been for Varian’s Defoe who is unbeaten in four starts this season, the most recent being an impressive victory at Newbury where conditions were similar to those expected at Doncaster this weekend.

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The son of Dalakhani will have the services of in-form jockey Andrea Atzeni who has won two of the last three St Leger’s and with an even better record in the course’s Group 1 Racing Post Trophy the Sardinian rider seems to reserve his best for the Yorkshire venue. Unless the course drys out over the next few days, which looks unlikely, it would be no surprise for the horse to go off favourite on Saturday afternoon.

Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius has drifted out to a top price 13-2 with sponsor William Hill following the rain unlike stablemate Coronet who is expected to appreciate the ground and has been supported into 9-1 with Bet365 and Boylesports.

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