For horse racing fans, the onset of autumn coincides with the staging of the St Leger meeting at Doncaster with the final classic of the season deemed as a race for three year olds considered to best suited by a test of stamina.
This year’s renewal features a typical encounter between those already experienced in classics and the less exposed horses.
Ladbrokes have installed the David Wachman trained Galileo Rock as 4-1 favourite and this will only be his fourth race of the season after being placed in both the English and Irish Derbies when having every chance in each race. His ability is not in question but whether he possesses the class to win such an event is open to debate.
Disputing favouritism with Galileo Rock is Excess Knowledge, a progressive colt who did not make his seasonal debut until July. He has been placed in both Group 3 and Listed company but he is being asked a serious question for his first effort in a Group 1 race. Having not won in four attempts since claiming victory in his racecourse debut in August 2012, he is still being offered at just 4/1 by Paddy Power.
No English classic would be complete without a runner saddled by Aidan O’Brien and he has entered two live contenders for this race. Foundry has raced only once this season when chasing home Telescope in the Great Voltigeur at York and gave the impression that he would be suited by the extra two furlongs at Doncaster. William Hill quote him at 6/1, yet his stable companion Leading Light also has a viable chance.
Off the course since winning the 2m Queens Vase at Royal Ascot, Leading Light is unbeaten in three starts this season and has proven stamina allied to the required speed to win a couple of useful Irish 10 furlong races in different types of going. He is generously priced at 6/1 by Coral.
Behind him in the betting is Derby second-placed Libertarian who is now trained by Charlie Appleby. Unraced as a two year old, Libertarian appeared a typical Leger type when finishing strongly at Epsom only to flop badly when eighth of nine in the Irish equivalent. SkyBet quote him at 8/1 and those odds may be good value should his early season form be reproduced.
Like Libertarian, Oaks winner Talent also has much to prove after finishing last in the Irish Oaks after a smooth success in the Epsom version. Trainer Ralph Beckett is optimistic that the filly is back to her best but the 16/1 quoted by Bet Victor suggests that she faces an uphill task racing against the colts for the first time.
Of the outsiders, Feel Like Dancing cannot be dismissed from the reckoning. The John Gosden trained colt chased home Leading Light at Ascot and his rating had increased by a further 10 when he won the Bahrain Trophy over 1m 5f at Newmarket. He represents decent each way value at 16/1 with Coral.
In what appears to be a very open contest this year, the St Leger is also supported by a competitive four day card during which the advent of autumn can often produce a serious change in form.