Order Of St George: thrashed the opposition in last year’s Irish St Leger
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos
By Tony O’Hehir 10:00AM 11 SEP 2016
WHETHER the end of Order Of St George’s campaign will involve a tilt at the Arc or the British Champions Long Distance Cup should become clearer after today’s Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger, in which the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt will be attempting to follow up his win of 12 months ago.
Winning this race more than once is a distinction held by only four horses – Vintage Crop, Kayf Tara and Oscar Schindler, all of whom were dual winners, and Vinnie Roe, the most successful of all with four consecutive victories from 2001 to 2004.
Order Of St George is odds-on favourite to succeed in his mission, and the Ascot Gold Cup winner will be attempting to give Aidan O’Brien a fourth success in the event he first landed with Yeats in 2007 and with Septimus the following year.
The four-year-old is on a winning streak that stretches back to July 2015 and success today under Ryan Moore, who will be seeking a first win in the race, would extend his winning sequence to seven.
O’Brien, who also runs outsiders Unicorn and Kellstorm, said on Saturday: “Order Of St George is in good form and we’ve been happy with him since he won the St Leger Trial over course and distance last month.
“He’s proved he’s a very good stayer and that he handles ease in the ground well. We’re looking forward to seeing him try to win the race again.
“Where he goes later in the season is a question we’ll consider after the race.”
O’Brien added: “Our other two runners are taking a big step up in grade.”
Unicorn was having his first run of the season when finishing third in the Melrose Stakes at York last month, a race in which Kellstorm was ninth.
Paris the main rival to George
Trip To Paris, last year’s Ascot Gold Cup winner, provides the main opposition to Order Of St George.
Success in the race for the Ed Dunlop-trained four-year-old would not be a first for the Dunlop family as Ed’s father John won it with Mountain Lodge in 1983.
The trainer said: “He seems in good form and we’re putting the blinkers back on as we felt he was lazy and lethargic in the Lonsdale last time.
“He’s pleased us with the way he’s worked in them but we know we’re up against a supremely good horse.”
Wicklow Brave, third in the race a year ago and who finished fourth in the Goodwood Cup and third in the Lonsdale Cup on his last two starts, represents Willie Mullins, who said yesterday: “Wicklow Brave is in good form and if he runs to his rating he’ll have a good chance of finishing in the money as he did last year. Ease in the ground won’t bother him.”
Frankie Dettori, seeking a first win in the race, teams up with the Mullins-trained seven-year-old for the first time.
Completing the line-up is Silwana, trained on the Curragh by Takashi Kodama. Twice a course winner over two miles when trained by Dermot Weld, the five-year-old mare finished last of five behind Order Of St George in the Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown on her most recent start in June.