The world’s oldest classic, Doncaster’s St Leger, went to Aidan O’Brien for the sixth time as Ryan Moore guided Kew Gardens home, Moore and O’Brien having also teamed up last year to win with Capri.
Kew Gardens, a son of Galileo out of Group One winning mare Chelsea Rose, had come into the race with a strong profile. He’d won the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot over this trip earlier in the season and followed that up with a win in the Grand Prix de Paris over two furlongs shorter. His prep run for the Leger saw him failing to concede weight to Old Persian ay York but he turned that form around in no uncertain style today.
However, although he looked to have a strong chance going into the race the market leader was John Gosden’s unbeaten filly Lah Ti Dar who’d won the Group Two Galtres Stakes at York by ten lengths. After that race her jockey Frankie Dettori immediately nominated the Str Leger as the target he wanted her to pursue but connections were less sure and it was only earlier this week that a decision was made to run her.
In the early part of the race Kew Gardens was held up by Moore, with Dettori taking up a position just behind his chief rival. They maintained those positions until the straight where it was Dettori on Lah Ti Dar who blinked first, shaking the reins at his filly to roust her along. Moore was travelling well and quickly passed horses, taking up the running two furlongs out.
Lah Ti Dar meanwhile had started to respond to Dettori’s driving and was now in top gear but she never really looked like over-hauling Kew Gardens and he stayed on powerfully to win by two and a half lengths.
After the race Moore said: “He travelled well and got there really easy. He’s a very uncomplicated, easy horse and he did it very impressively. He tries very hard and has a great attitude to life. He picked up really well and beat a good field.”
Trainer Aidan O’Brien, who travelled back to Ireland immediately after the race to attend to his horses at Leopardstown, was keen to stress that a staying test was right up Kew Garden’s street: “We always thought he was a horse who would stay well and we were delighted with what he did in France and at York.
“We always felt he had a lot of class and this extra distance was going to be what he wanted.”
Last year’s St Leger turned out to be a vintage renewal with the first three home, Capri, Crystal Ocean and Stradivarius, all operating at the top level at four and if both Kew Gardens and Lah Ti Dar stay in training it’d take a brave person to bet against either of them following suit.