The changing of the seasons marks the end of the flat racing season, and with central heating systems across the land clanking into action so too will the country’s finest sprinters and stayers sign off their campaign at the St Leger Festival this week.
The four-day meeting is headlined by the oldest classic and, let’s face it, the one they all want to win: the St Leger Stakes. This race has such a fine heritage that it is very rarely an abomination to call its winner one of the best flat-racing horses on the planet.
Proceedings kick off on Wednesday with the ultra-fun Legends Race, and with various side events to keep an eye on – plus a stacked card that features plenty of Class 1 and 2 action – the week day shenanigans will be well worth a look.
But most punters’ attention (and money) will be primed for the St Leger Stakes, with starters’ orders at 3pm, and one horse in particular: the bookmakers’ favourite Idaho.
Idaho Ready to Go
There are far less variables in picking out a winner at flat meetings than over hurdles, and even in a high-class field like this one it is generally straightforward to identify those with strong credentials.
Of the field it is Idaho that stands out a mile, and that is reflected in his stingy – but justified – ante-post price of Evens. All of the main pointers are there: Aidan O’Brien is the trainer – a man who has won this race four times in the past, while Ryan Moore could well be given the ride should he return from injury in time.
The three-year-old has won over the 12f stretch in a classy field last time out in the Great Voltigeur Stakes; defeating Housesofparliament and Major General, who are in the field here, into the bargain, and his penchant for going well on good ground is clearly of interest.
A number of key St Leger performers had gone well in wither the English and Irish Derby prior to their subsequent victory at Doncaster, and Idaho’s record – second in the Irish and third in the English – with both defeats coming to the outstanding Harzand, bodes well.
The price is perhaps a fraction short, but given a lack of genuine competition it is justified. You won’t find many more reliable ways to double your money this week.
Other St Leger Betting Tips
Most of Idaho’s key competitors tick some boxes and leave others very much unchecked. Muntahaa went well to claim third in the King Edward VII Stakes, but won by a short head last time out in a Chester Stakes test he was expected to pass with flying colours, so there is enough concern there to warrant no further action being taken.
Red Verdon has a trio of eye-catching wins under his belt, but a couple of flaccid performances in the Derbies on both side of the water (fourth in the Irish, sixth at Epsom) suggests this is not a horse for the big occasion.
We’re still awaiting supplementation news on the promising Wings of Desire, so otherwise perhaps Housesofparliament is worth an each-way tickle at 12s. The O’Brien trained three-year-old has only been bested by Idaho and Across the Stars in recent starts, and was less than a length behind Muntahaa in fourth at the King Edward VII Stakes. A handy win at Newmarket in July caught the eye, and while he may not contest Idaho’s dominance a place is certainly well within grasp.