Weekend Racing Review: Defoe on course to supply Atzeni with yet another St Leger victoryPublished August 21, 2017
Order Of St George – 5-2 Qipco Long Distance Cup
Kingston Hill in 2014 and Simple Verse in 2015 ( courtesy of a successful appeal with the Doncaster stewards originally awarding the final Classic of the season to runner-up Bondi Beach ) have supplied jockey Andrea Atzeni with two of the last three St Leger’s and that impressive tally could easily be improved upon on Saturday 16th September following the victory of the Roger Varian-trained Defoe in Saturday’s Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.
The son of Dalakhani has done nothing but improve this season, winning for the fifth time since making a winning debut at Ffos Las on his two-year-old debut and unbeaten in four starts during the current campaign, the first being a valuable handicap at the Berkshire venue back in May. The mile and three quarters trip on Town Moor should hold no fears for this thorough stayer who travelled so well in Newbury’s one mile five and a half furlong Group 3 contest, always holding the determined runner-up Wall Of Fire for a cosy three quarters of a length win with Coronation Cup second Frontiersman over three lengths back in third place, giving the form a significant boost.
Bookmaker reaction after the race was to cut the colt’s St Leger odds into as short as 5-1 although both Ladbrokes and Boylesports are prepared to offer a generous-looking 8-1 at the moment, a price that can surely only contract in the weeks ahead. Having also ridden two of his potential main rivals at Doncaster, Atzeni compared the three Classic contenders by saying: “ Stradivarius is a Group 1 winner, Crystal Ocean is an improving horse, but this fella could be anything.”
The feature race at the Curragh on Saturday afternoon was the Group 3 Irish St Leger Trial which was won for the third year running by last year’s Arc third Order Of St George, just touched off by Big Orange when attempting to win a second Gold Cup at Ascot back in June. A return visit to that course looks on the cards for the Aidan O’Brien-trained five-year-old who must take all of the beating in the Champions Long Distance Cup at the end of the season.