Logician puts unbeaten record on the line in the St Leger
The unbeaten Logician heads a final field of eight for the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday.
The unbeaten Logician heads a final field of eight for the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday. The world’s oldest Classic, first run in 1776, forms part of the Long Distance category of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Logician was unraced as a two-year-old but the grey, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by John Gosden, has made great strides in four races this campaign, preserving his 100 per cent record with a commanding success in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last month.
He is the general Evens favourite and, if successful, will become the first St Leger winner to have an unblemished record since the mighty Nijinsky prevailed at Town Moor in 1970. Nijinsky was winning his eleventh race in succession at but subsequently suffered defeats in the Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe and Champion Stakes.
Logician will attempt to become the first colt sired by the mighty Frankel to win a Classic. Frankel’s previous progeny to have won a Classic have been fillies, with Soul Stirring landing the Japanese Oaks in 2017 and Anapurna scooping this year’s Investec Oaks.
Frankie Dettori, who has already enjoyed 14 Group 1 winners this campaign, is seeking a sixth St Leger triumph and will partner Logician. The 48-year-old has won 11 of the 28 QIPCO British Champions Series races run this year – nine of them for Gosden – and after guiding Logician home in the Great Voltigeur, he said: “He’s a typical Frankel in that he covers a lot of ground. He’s still learning but he hit the line well and this will bring him on further.”
Gosden is seeking a fifth St Leger success after previous triumphs with Shantou (1996), Lucarno (2007), Arctic Cosmos (2010) and Masked Marvel (2011).
By contrast, Mark Johnston has yet to have a St Leger winner and is hopeful either Sir Ron Priestley or Nayef Road will rectify that. Nayef Road won the Group 3 Qatar Gordon Stakes last month but his main hope is Sir Ron Priestley, who has won five of his six starts this year and put up a career-best to land the Group 3 Ladbrokes March Stakes at Goodwood on
his latest start.
The Australia colt is owned by Paul Dean, one of Johnston’s longest-standing patrons, and will be ridden by 49-year old Franny Norton, whose decorated CV is missing a Group 1 winner.
Johnston said: “Sir Ron Priestley is going to have to up his game considerably but he’s done everything else we’ve asked of him and so he’s got to have a shot at the St Leger.
“We are under no illusions about the fact he will need a personal best to win. He won a Group 3 race on his last outing, while this is a Group 1 with Classic horses in there and a much taller order. But he stays the trip well and it’s not impossible he could bridge the gap.”
Britain’s winning-most trainer added: “The St Leger is a race I would dearly love to win and it would be fantastic for Paul [Dean] and Franny, who’s as good as ever, to get a big one.
“Paul’s a tremendous owner and has been with us almost as long as I’ve been training. I always say bookmakers make great owners because they’ve made their living out of the fact that we don’t know what is going to win.
“Most of his horses have been called after friends and he gives them a knighthood that they didn’t actually have. I tried to call one Sir Paul Dean but he heard about it just before and asked me not to. The name’s been reserved and
there will be a Sir Paul Dean one day.”
Aidan O’Brien has struck six times in the race with Milan (2001), Brian Boru (2003), Scorpion (2005), Leading Light (2013), Capri (2017) and Kew Gardens (2018). This time, he is represented by Sir Dragonet, Il Paradiso and Western Australia.
His principal contenders look Sir Dragonet, beaten under a length when fifth in the Investec Derby at Epsom in June, and Il Paradiso, not beaten far behind star older stayers Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York last time.
The field is completed by the Martyn Meade-trained Technician, who won the Group 3 Unibet Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury on his latest start, and Dashing Willoughby, winner of the Group 2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot in June.