DONCASTER, England // Godolphin’s three runners had little answer to the power-packed finish of Leading Light in the St Leger at Doncaster on Sunday.
Mickael Barzalona may have led for much of the race on Cap O’Rushes, but once Joseph O’Brien set Leading Light off for home Charlie Appleby’s charge faded tamely to finish last.
Libertarian, Appleby’s other runner, finished fourth, while Saeed Bin Suroor’s quest to register a sixth success in the race over a mile and six furlongs resulted in Secret Number staying on steadily for sixth, one place ahead of outsider Ralston Road, ridden by UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea.
Leading Light could head to Paris next month for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, depending on how Camelot, who is also trained by Aidan O’Brien, fares on Sunday at Longchamp in the Group 2 Prix Foy.
John Magnier was on Town Moor to see Leading Light and O’Brien deliver a fourth win in the world’s oldest Classic, and the mastermind of the Coolmore breeding operation said: “We will look at the Arc now, [as] he’s got plenty of speed. The ground in Paris is soft at the moment, which would rule Camelot out and perhaps open it up for him.”
So soft is the ground at Longchamp that O’Brien exercised caution as to whether Camelot would run at all.
“We are not going to run him in bad ground and will make a decision tomorrow,” he said.
For O’Brien, his first victory in the St Leger was sweet as it went some way to erase the memory of failing to secure the elusive Triple Crown aboard Camelot 12 months ago.
Camelot was beaten into second by Encke, owned by Coolmore’s arch-rivals Godolphin, and who was subsequently administered anabolic steroids by the disgraced and banned trainer Mahmoud Al Zarooni.
When asked whether Leading Light’s win made up for that defeat, O’Brien said: “A little bit.”
As soon as the gates opened Barzalona urged his mount to the front and O’Brien soon had Leading Light tracking the leader on his outside with Galileo Rock, another Irish challenger, in behind.
Little changed until the field swung into the straight, where Wayne Lordan steered Galileo Rock into the centre of the track and to the lead.
As Cap O’Rushes fell away, Leading Light powered home and had to fight off the unwanted attentions of Galileo Rock, who is trained by David Wachman, Magnier’s son-in-law.
Leading Light crushed the spirit of Galileo Rock approaching the final furlong and held off the late thrust of Talent, the only filly in the field, by a length and a quarter.
“I was very pleased with Libertarian,” Appleby said. “William was delighted that he travelled very well throughout the race.
“He just said the conditions were a bit too easy for the horse. He is a better horse on good ground. We have something to take away and can work from here.”
Simon Crisford reported that Secret Number may not have got the trip, while Cap O’Rushes was outclassed.
Japan lines up Kizuna and Orfevre for Arc
Kizuna and Orfevre open the latest chapter of Japan’s desperate bid to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday as the pair take their chances on the glittering Arc Trials card at Longchamp.
Japan went agonisingly close to taking the European showpiece last season when Orfevre burst clear under Christophe Soumillon, only to be denied in the shadow of the post by Solemia.
Kizuna graces the European turf today, for the first time since landing the Japanese Derby in May, in the Prix Niel, the traditional prep race for next month’s Arc for three-year-old colts.
He will be ridden by Yutaka Take, who was on board on Thursday when the pair went for a final spin on the gallops of Chantilly, where he is housed in Pascal Bary’s yard.
“He’s where he should be for a trial,” trainer Shozo Sasaki said.
“I would say he is 85 per cent. When we arrived he was pretending to be meek and quiet but now that he is used to things he is acting up again.”
Kizuna’s challenge is far from easy as also in the line-up is Rule Of The World, the English Derby winner, and Flintshire, Europe’s best colt, who is well fancied to win this afternoon should he take his chance.
Heavy rain is set for overnight and if the precipitation gets into the ground on Sunday then trainer Andre Fabre could reroute his charge to Newbury next weekend.
On paper, Orfevre faces the easier task in the Prix Foy, the Group 2 contest he won by a length 12 months ago ahead of his failed Arc bid. The five year old faces nine rivals, including globe-trotter Dunaden, Dubai Sheema Classic runner Very Nice Name and Camelot, Aidan O’Brien’s runner.
The Prix Du Moulin and Prix Vermeille provide the Group 1 action with further races at the highest level at the Curragh, where the Irish St Leger and the National Stakes are run, and across the Atlantic late Sunday night when Woodbine stages the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes and the Woodbine Mile.
Published: September 14, 2013 04:00 AM