Kingston Hill heads 21 remaining in Ladbrokes St Leger

The countdown to the final classic of the season intensified today with the unveiling of the latest acceptors for the Group 1 Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster on  Saturday, September 13.

A total of 21 entries remain, headed by Kingston Hill (Roger Varian) who is already a Group 1 winner at Doncaster having landed the Racing Post Trophy in 2013. He is the 5/2 favourite with Ladbrokes.

This season, the Paul Smith-owned colt beat all bar the mighty Australia in the Investec Derby at Epsom Downs in June. He missed last week’s 12-furlong Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes at York due to the fast ground with connections opting to go straight to Town Moor. Snow Sky (Sir Michael Stoute, 7/1 with Ladbrokes) and Odeon (James Given, 33/1), the second and third at York, both remain engaged in the Ladbrokes St Leger.

Snow Sky was beaten two and a quarter lengths by Postponed at York but had previously laid down a marker for the Ladbrokes St Leger in the Group 3 Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes at Goodwood on July 30, repelling Windshear (Richard Hannon, 8/1) by a neck.

Stoute and Snow Sky’s owner Khalid Abdullah are also responsible for the lightly-raced Kings Fete (16/1), who was third behind Forever Now (John Gosden, 12/1) and Alex My Boy (Mark Johnston, 14/1) in the Listed March Stakes over 14 furlongs at Goodwood on August 23.

Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to Khalid Abdullah, said: “Snow Sky has come out of York well and the plan is to run in the Ladbrokes St Leger.

“He settled very well and got into a nice rhythm in the Great Voltigeur. He joined Postponed two furlongs out but the winner quickened well.

“We stayed on well to the line and were gaining at the end, so I thought it was quite encouraging.

“We are all going to find out on the day if he will stay but given the type of horse he is and his pedigree, I think he has a pretty good chance of staying a mile and three quarters.

“Kings Fete has got to settle better if he is going to get the trip. He was a bit silly at Goodwood the other day but has some talent and we won’t discount him.

“At this stage, I would say it is unlikely but it has not been ruled out and we have left him in for good reason.

“We tried him in a ring bit instead of the hood at the weekend. I don’t think you want to overburden a horse with too many contraptions otherwise you get too clever, but obviously the ring bit wasn’t quite so successful.”

Sir Michael Stoute broke his Ladbbrokes St Leger hoodoo in 2008 when Conduit was successful while owner Khalid Abdullah achieved Doncaster Classic glory with Toulon in 1991.

John Gosden has won the Ladbrokes St Leger four times, with two of those successes coming in the last four years (Masked Marvel in 2011 and Arctic Cosmos in 2010). This time around the Newmarket handler has three entries going forward, headed by Investec Derby third Romsdal (6/1). Gosden’s two other possible starters are Forever Now, and Marzocco (25/1), who finished fourth fourth in the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes.

Another handler with three entries is Mark Johnston. The North Yorkshire handler’s trio include Hartnell (14/1), successful in the Listed Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and Group Three Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket before finishing sixth in the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes, Group One Eclipse Stakes third Somewhat (33/1) plus Alex My Boy.

Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien, who saddled his fourth Ladbrokes St Leger winner with Leading Light in 2013, has five entries including Irish Derby runner-up Kingfisher (20/1). Adjusted (33/1), Blue Hussar (33/1), Granddukeoftuscany (20/1)and Indian Maharaja (50/1) complete the Ballydoyle quintet.

There is one other entry from Ireland in Streetcar To Stars (John Oxx, 25/1), who was last seen out when fourth behind 2013 Ladbrokes St Leger victor Leading Light in a Group Three contest at the Curragh on August 24.

Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor has won the Ladbrokes St Leger more times than any other current trainer, with five victories to his name. His one possible starter in 2014 is Winter Thunder (33/1), a dual winner at Newmarket this season in handicap company.

With the Ladbrokes St Leger staged five days before the Scottish independence referendum, there would be no more topical winner than Scotland (Andrew Balding, 25/1), who put up his best effort this season when third in the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Completing the acceptors are Astronereus (Amanda Perrett, 50/1) and Min Alemarat (Marco Botti, 33/1).

There is a £50,000 supplementary entry stage for the Ladbrokes St Leger on Monday, September 8, when the five-day confirmation stage also takes place.

Ladbrokes St Leger, sponsors bet: 5/2 Kingston Hill; 6/1 Romsdal; 7/1 Snow Sky; 8/1 Windshear; 12/1 Forever Now; 14/1 Alex My Boy, Hartnell; 16/1 Kings Fete; 20/1 Granddukeoftuscany; Kingfisher; 25/1 Marzocco, Scotland, Streetcar To Stars; 33/1 Adjusted, Blue Hussar, Min Alemarat, Odeon, Somewhat, Winter Thunder; 50/1 Astronereus, Indian Maharaja

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