ANTE-POST favourite Kew Gardens heads a field of 16 horses standing their ground at the five-day stage for Saturday’s William Hill St Leger at Doncaster.
The Queen’s Vase and Grand Prix de Paris hero enhanced his Classic claims in defeat last time out when finishing a staying-on third in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, where he was burdened with a Group One penalty. Trainer Aidan O’Brien said: “We were delighted with Kew Gardens at York. It wasn’t ideal under the penalty but we just thought that was the perfect place to give him his prep. Ryan (Moore) was delighted with him, he obviously stays further and we always thought that Doncaster would suit him.”
Kew Gardens is one of seven possibles trained by O’Brien, who seeks a sixth win in the world’s oldest Classic. The other Ballydoyle confirmations are Flag Of Honour, Southern France, The Pentagon, Nelson, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Zabriskie.
Joseph O’Brien, successful as a rider on Leading Light for his father in 2013, has a strong contender in Latrobe, winner of the Irish Derby.
Great Voltigeur scorer Old Persian, trained by Charlie Appleby, is in the list along with two other Godolphin-owned colts, Loxley and Brundtland.
With Wells Farhh Go ruled out through injury, the big hope for the north is the Mark Johnston-trained Dee Ex Bee, who was runner-up in the Derby.
Lah Ti Dah, impressive winner of the Galtres Stakes at York last month in her first race since May, has been left in by trainer John Gosden.
A second filly, Maid Up, was added to the race at the supplementary stage. Andrew Balding’s charge showed her appreciation for a test of stamina when winning the Group Three March Stakes at Goodwood last month and connections have stumped up the £50,000 fee. Raymond Tusk and Proschema complete the list.