The 2021 Cazoo St Leger will not go down as one of the deepest in terms of quality, but we could be on the verge of seeing a fine winner of the race if Hurricane Lane prevails, which I fully expect him to, and in some style.
It would be the seventh success for Godolphin in the world's oldest Classic, a third for William Buick but first for Charlie Appleby.
The extraordinarily high temperatures of the opening day of the meeting will be a distant memory come Leger day and indeed there is some rain expected to end the week. However, if the word "firm" does appear in the going, it will be a first for all of the runners, with the exception of Scope.
- Hurricane Lane to face nine in St Leger Classic bid
- Appleby: No Leger stamina concerns for Hurricane Lane
St Leger live on Sky Sports Racing
Watch the Cazoo St Leger at Doncaster live on Sky Sports Racing on Saturday at 3.35pm
1 (Draw: 10) - Fernando Vichi (Trainer: Donnacha O'Brien; Jockey: Oisin Murphy)
Donnacha O'Brien, the brother of last year's winning trainer Joseph, has booked the champion jockey but his charge has got 17 lengths to find with Hurricane Lane on Irish Derby form.
That said, he ran a better race last time when second to Interpretation, beaten just under two lengths, in a Listed event over a mile-and-six-furlongs at Navan. Seems fully exposed and not good enough.
2 (2) - High Definition (Aidan O'Brien; Frankie Dettori)
The enigma of the year. Clearly very talented on his day as he showed when third, staying on under tender handling, two lengths behind Hurricane Lane in the Dante Stakes. He started favourite there and again on his next two starts, only to flop badly.
He may have had excuses in the Irish Derby as he never travelled after stumbling in the early stages, but it is hard to explain his sixth of eight in the Great Voltigeur when he at least managed to race more prominently than before.
The positives are that he shapes as though he will be suited by this trip and is a May foal and perhaps open to more progress. But can you trust him?
3 (4) - Hurricane Lane (Charlie Appleby; William Buick)
Winner of five of his six starts, his only blemish in the Derby when he took third place behind stablemate Adayar. However, who knows how the son of Frankel would have fared if he had not finished without his two front shoes on that tricky camber?
Since then, he has kicked on and dug deep to get up and beat Lone Eagle in the Irish Derby with the pair finishing seven lengths clear. Last time, he notched up arguably a career-best when landing the Group One Grand Prix de Paris by six lengths, with The Mediterranean in fourth.
A powerful galloper who hits the line hard, there is every chance, both on style and pedigree (his dam Gale Force was a two-time winner at two miles), that this step up will bring about further improvement and he is clearly going to be very hard to beat indeed. In fact, I am expecting him to pull well clear in the closing stages.
4 (7) - Interpretation (Aidan O'Brien; Hollie Doyle)
Unbeaten as a three-year-old and since being fitted with cheekpieces, he completed his hat-trick with a game front-running display in the Listed Vinnie Roe Stakes at Leopardstown, shrugging off Fernando Vichi readily up the hill. That was over a-mile-and-six furlongs, so at least there are no issues about the trip.
Probably the pace angle for the race along with his stablemate The Mediterranean, but it is hard to see him staying in front where it matters most.
Doyle relishing first Leger chance
Hollie Doyle has spoken of her delight at picking up the mount on Interpretation for Aidan O'Brien in the Cazoo St Leger.
5 (3) - Mojo Star (Richard Hannon; Rossa Ryan)
The 50-1 Derby runner-up who was beaten four-and-a half-lengths by Adayar, but finished three-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of Hurricane Lane.
However, the Irish Derby was probably more a reflection of their respective merits when the form was reversed to the tune of almost 13 lengths. That said, Mojo Star was done no favours by the Godolphin colt, whose leaning-in caused him to get squeezed up and lose his balance.
He is not bred to be necessarily suited by the Leger trip but could surprise a few and can grab some place money.
6 (8) - Ottoman Emperor (Johnny Murtagh; Ben Coen)
Unraced at two, Ottoman Emperor was beaten on his debut but has been unbeaten since in four starts, stepping up every time. He put up a gutsy performance to beat Sir Lucan and Youth Spirit (3lb better off) in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood.
The trouble is that a stamina test like the St Leger is not necessarily going to play to his strengths as there is precious little encouragement on both sides of his pedigree. Having said that he has already bucked the trend of most Excelebration's by staying as well as he has.
He is progressive and respected but may just wilt in the closing stages.
7 (6) - Scope (Ralph Beckett; Rob Hornby)
Scope beat Mojo Star by a whisker on his debut at Newbury last October and has run some decent races in defeat this term, notably when third in the Lingfield Derby Trial and then fifth in the Great Voltigeur Stakes.
His run at York last month was his first since May and there was something to like about the way he kept on inside the last furlong, finishing on the heels of The Mediterranean, Youth Spirit and Sir Lucan.
Probably has more to come and can get involved in the fight to make the frame.
8 (5) - Sir Lucan (Aidan O'Brien; James Doyle)
Sir Lucan was held up to finish a running-on second to Ottoman Emperor in the Gordon Stakes (given a lot to do) and fourth in the Great Voltigeur at York.
He wore cheekpieces for the first time at York but did not find as much as he had perhaps promised.
Has a touch of class about him and has won at a-mile-and-five-furlongs in Listed class at Navan but is clearly not straightforward and needs to improve.
9 (1) - The Mediterranean (Aidan O'Brien; Wayne Lordan)
Has made the running on his last two starts when fitted with cheekpieces, taking fourth, beaten over seven lengths by Hurricane Lane in the Grand Prix de Paris, and second to the gelding Yibir in the Great Voltigeur when just ahead of Youth Spirit and Sir Lucan.
Clearly got it all to do with the favourite.
10 (9) - Youth Spirit (Andrew Balding; Tom Marquand)
A likeable type who landed the Chester Vase in May before running disappointingly in the Derby.
Has run respectably since, though, when fourth at Goodwood (gave the first three 3lb) and third at York. Tries hard enough and shapes as though he is worth a go at this trip.
I can see him challenging for the places at a decent each-way price, rather like the stable's Berkshire Rocco 12 months ago.
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Unless there is an unforeseen issue, Hurricane Lane has the Cazoo St Leger at his mercy and is expected to be a convincing winner.
Mojo Star and Youth Spirit can fight out the placings as Ottoman Emperor may struggle to stay.
Scope might outrun his big price while the O'Brien family contingent lacks a bit of star quality but is led by Interpretation, with doubts about High Definition.