Capri heads Aidan O’Brien’s St Leger options
Venice Beach also among trainer's entries for world's oldest classic at Doncaster
Séamus Heffernan steered Capri to victory in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh in July. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Having won a fourth Irish Leger at the Curragh on Sunday, Aidan O’Brien’s attention switches to this Saturday’s William Hill St Leger at Doncaster and a potential fifth success in the world’s oldest classic.
Capri, winner of the Irish Derby in July, heads an entry of half a dozen Ballydoyle horses left in the race. Also among O’Brien’s possible starters are Venice Beach and Douglas Macarthur.
Initial reaction by most bookmakers was to make Capri second favourite behind the Michael Stoute-trained Crystal Ocean with other home-based hopes Stradivarius and Defore also prominent in the betting.
The last of O’Brien’s four previous Leger winners was Leading Light who scored in 2013 under the trainer’s son, Joseph, who is set to saddle Rekindling in the race this time.
The champion trainer will hope for better fortune than a year ago when his 4-6 favourite Idaho appeared to be cruising in the straight only to unseat Séamus Heffernan three furlongs from home.
Capri’s Irish Derby-winning from has been boosted in the interim by the Curragh runner-up Cracksman who is among the leading contenders in Arc betting after his latest success in Sunday’s Prix Niel at Chantilly.
O’Brien is on 17 Group/Grade One victories for the year and his pursuit of Bobby Frankel’s record haul of 25 in a calendar year could also see him take in Saturday night’s $800,000 Woodbine Mile in Toronto.
Deauville and the three year old Lancaster Bomber are among nominations for a contest won last year by the top American mare Tepin.
Deauville finished third for the second year running in the Arlington Million last month and could face his old rival, the David O’Meara-trained Mondialiste, this weekend. Mondialiste won the Woodbine Mile in 2015 and landed the Arlington Million last year.
Lancaster Bomber was out of the money in the Sussex Stakes on his last start but prior to that found only Barney Roy too good in Royal Ascot’s St James’s Palace Stakes.
O’Brien is as low as 7-4 to break Frankel’s top-flight haul set in 2003.
European interest on Saturday night could also include the Godolphin-owned Hawkbill who is on course to line up in the $300,000 Northern Dancer Stakes.
The Ballydoyle team have left three possible starters in Saturday’s Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. O’Brien won it in 2008 with Westpahlia and can choose this time from Mendelssohn, Seahenge and US Navy Flag.