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St Leger Preview 2019 - A Possible Yorkshire Winner : Can Mark Johnston Land Home Classic with Sir Ron Priestley

Saturday September 14th, 3:35pm
Live on ITV
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St Leger Preview 2019 - A Possible Yorkshire Winner?

The final classic of the flat racing season is upon us, with eight horses scheduled to go to post on Saturday for the St Leger at Doncaster. The race is broadcast live on ITV, so is free to air and the off time will be 3:35pm. We have both the leading jockey and leading trainer of this race coming back for more this season, with Frankie Dettori, the leading jockey, riding the hot favourite Logician, while Aidan O'Brien, who has saddled six previous winners including the last two, sends three representatives across the Irish Sea. However, those looking for value in the field may be better served looking a little closer to Doncaster, with Mark Johnston who trains just a short journey up the A1 having two contenders, with one in particular, Sir Ron Priestley, looking to have a great chance of upsetting the big guns. 

While some of the runners in this race have been busy running at a higher level, Sir Ron Priestley has slowly climbed his way up the rankings. His season started with a novice win at Ripon, the first of his five victories this season. That was followed by two handicap wins at Haydock, and then his last two starts have yielded a handicap and Group Three success at Goodwood. He has ran six times and recorded five wins this season, with his only blip coming in a Royal Ascot handicap. 

If there is a possible chink in the armour of the two fancied runners, Logician and Sir Dragonet it could be their ability to stay the trip. Both have only ever ran as far as 1m4f and while Logician looks as though this step up will not phase him, the same cannot be said about Sir Dragonet. We have seen horses try 1m6f for the first time in this race and succeed, but we have also seen some fail. Sir Ron Priestley has ran twice over this trip and won both races, with his most recent win being over this distance in a Goodwood Group Three. There are certainly no doubts about his staying power, and assuming he stays in training, he is likely to be seen over even further next season. 

The favourite Logician has certainly done nothing wrong so far in his short career, with four wins from four starts, all coming this season. Two novice wins were followed up by a handicap demolition at Newbury, and then he took the step up to Group Two company in his stride, winning the 1m4f Great Voltigeur at York with ease last month. He is clearly a horse with talent, and there could be even more to come from him being so lightly raced, so it is no surprise to see him installed as the favourite for Saturday's St Leger. 

Perhaps the most interesting horse in the race in terms of splitting opinions is Sir Dragonet, who looks as though he is the number one from the Aidan O'Brien yard. He only began racing this season like Logician, but quickly shot to fame after routing the field in a Derby Trial at Chester, something which was enough to send him off as favourite for the Epsom Derby. He finished close up in fifth but didn't look a guaranteed stayer that day, and it was no surprise to see him back down to 1m2f for his next run. That was a big disappointment though, he only finished fourth of seven in a Group Three contest, despite being sent off the 4/9 favourite. 

Not only does he have to bounce back from that here, but he also needs to show that he can stay the 1m6f trip, so there are two big negatives against him, despite him being the second favourite for the race. If anyone can get this horse ready to win though, it is Aidan O'Brien and while his last run and overall profile makes you question him, his trainer certainly makes you respect him. 

With those question marks hanging over Sir Dragonet and Logician already proving to be very short in the betting for one that has yet to tackle the trip or run at any higher than Group Two level, this race sets itself up perfectly to find some each way value. That is Sir Ron Priestley, a horse who could still be improving, and one that sets a rock solid marker over the distance with his win last time out. If the front two run to the best of their ability then he will have to improve again to get involved, but if either or both disappoint then this tough, genuine horse will be bang there at the finish of the St Leger on Saturday.

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  • The St Leger is the final classic of the season
  • The race is confined to three year olds
  • Unlike the other four classics, the two sexes run against each other here
  • The distance of 1m6f brings stamina into play and is the longest classic of the season
  • This is the final leg of the flat triple crown, although no horse is on course to land that this season
  • Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore have won the last two renewals, O'Brien is back for a third consecutive success this year
  • Frankie Dettori is the leading jockey in the race with five wins, he rides hot favourite Logician on Saturday
  • Aidan O'Brien is the leading trainer with six wins, he has three of the eight runners in the field this year

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