Aidan O’Brien is three-handed in his bid to land the final British Classic of the 2016 Flat season but all eyes will be on the stable’s leading hope, Idaho, who now looks almost certain to go off the second odds-on favourite in the race this century.
Idaho booked his ticket for this event when coming from last to first to win the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, beating stablemate Housesofparliament by a length-and-three-quarters.
The O'Brien team have had mixed fortunes in this though, with a notable reversal coming in 2012 when Camelot was sent off a red hot 2/5 favourite to become the 16th Triple Crown winner. The son of Montjeu, ridden by Joseph O'Brien, had captured the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and Irish Derby, but failed to reel in Godolphin’s Encke, who held on by three-quarters of a length to cause a 25/1 stunner.
Last year’s controversial running of the world's oldest Classic was won by 8/1 chance Simple Verse, but many short-price backers would have collected when runner-up and 2/1 joint favourite Bondi Beach was awarded the race by the Doncaster stewards. Connections of Simple Verse – trainer Ralph Beckett and owner Qatar Racing Limited which is headed by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani – launched an appeal and the decision was reversed by the British Horseracing Authority 11 days later. Simple Verse became the first filly to win the Ladbrokes St Leger since User Friendly in 1992.
On the whole, favourites have a strong record in the race, with 19 winning since 1980, and eight since the turn of the century. Leading Light (2013), trained by O'Brien, and Kingston Hill (2014) have done the business for favourite backers in recent years, so will Idaho, partnered by Seamie Heffernan, follow suit and provide his trainer with a fifth victory in the iconic contest? We’ll find out just after 3.45pm on Saturday.
St Leger Favourite stats since 2000:
|2015||Bondi Beach||2/1 (jt fav)||2nd (Promoted to 1st after Stewards Enquiry)|
|Storm The Stars||2/1 (jt fav)||4th|
|2004||Rule Of Law||3/1 (jt fav)||Won|
|Quiff||3/1 (jt fav)||2nd|