Racing: O'Brien's Tycoon to break Rule Of Law in a St Leger slog

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Champions present and quite possibly legends future are spattered across Europe this weekend as authentic top-class racing visits England, Ireland and France.

Champions present and quite possibly legends future are spattered across Europe this weekend as authentic top-class racing visits England, Ireland and France.

The St Leger at Doncaster today is unlikely to provide the best horse in pure terms. That figure will almost certainly emerge from a quality encrusted Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. However, Town Moor should be the seat for the bravest beast, the one which hauls itself most effectively up the hurtfully long straight.

The action, by design, will be rather more sedate tomorrow at Longchamp, scene of the trials for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in three weeks' time. Yet there could be a bomb off a slow pace in the Bois de Boulogne, where Bago seeks to interrupt the argument about which is the best three-year-old in the EC.

The whole complexion of the St Leger is dominated by the weather and a horse which might not even run. The level of overnight rain will determine whether Quiff - who could be the first successful filly since User Friendly in 1992 - takes part in the 228th running of the oldest Classic.

Quiff has been taken out of the Prix Vermeille tomorrow, so the intention to run is blatant. All connections need is the encouragement of a little precipitation. Most unusually, the Leger is a contest in which Sir Michael Stoute, Quiff's trainer, needs morale encouragement every passing year.

Stoute, as he is widely reminded per annum, has not won this race despite firing 17 shots. If Quiff cannot run, the Freemason Lodge trainer will be represented solely by Maraahel, the winner of Goodwood's Gordon Stakes, a race which is slowly becoming eroded as a Leger trial of any merit.

The auditions which carry more clout are the Derby, its Irish equivalent and the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, a left-handed, sprawling racecourse which closely replicates the demands of Doncaster.

As Rule Of Law has run in all three and is a representative of the in-form Godolphin team it is no great surprise to see his name at the head of the betting. Certainly, the Derby runner-up holds the Indian sign over a main market rival in Let The Lion Roar, who has now finished behind Saeed bin Suroor's colt three times this season.

Towards the bottom of the market are Frank Sonata, Go For Gold, Mikado, Albinus and Darsalam, the last of which is already a Classic winner having collected the Czech St Leger and Derby. However, Czech form, like Maltese wine, does not travel exceedingly well.

That leaves us with Tycoon, the leading choice of three from Ballydoyle, the Leger victors with Milan in 2001 and Brian Boru 12 months ago. Anyone who witnessed Tycoon's most recent effort, in the International Stakes at York, will not be well disposed to chancing cash on him this afternoon. Aidan O'Brien's colt was sweaty and edgy even before battle commenced on the Knavesmire and was soon rummaging for the white flag after hostilities broke out, finishing last to Sulamani.

However, even though he tried very hard, that effort did not entirely rub out the impression of what had gone before. Tycoon was third in the Irish Derby - in front of both Rule Of Law and Let The Lion Roar - which provides questionably the best form on show. In addition, he might well have finished second to Doyen in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes had not a collision amidships occurred with the retreating Lunar Sovereign in the home straight. The colt will tell us by manner and physical appearance around three o'clock about his prospects. It is worth wagering at around 7-1 that TYCOON (nap 3.15) will provide a calming vision.

Doyen himself attempts to add another block to the edifice of his growing reputation in the Irish Champion Stakes. At Royal Ascot, that building went up several floors after victory in the Hardwicke Stakes. It was poking up through the clouds after his destruction of the King George field.

It is reportedly a much more accomplished Doyen at work on the Newmarket gallops these days, but then the promise and the warm appreciations are all factored into his near even-money price.

There are other luminaries in here to consider. Grey Swallow is another who could be recognised as the best three-year-old on the block over 12 furlongs following his defeat of the Derby winner, North Light, in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh. Yet, his fellow domestic aspirant Azamour has finished in front of the grey twice this season and looks the value, each-way at least, in an eight-runner field.

The other attraction at Leopardstown is Attraction, as the 1,000 Guineas winner attempts to gain revenge on her Falmouth Stakes conqueror, Soviet Song, in the Matron Stakes, upgraded to Group One status for the first time.

While Attraction has since flopped on mud at Deauville, Soviet Song shone when taking on and beating the colts in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and looks likely to come out on top again here.

A Gallic consideration for the best of the Classic generation comes in the shape of Bago, who has some refugees from the French Derby to deal with tomorrow in the Prix Niel at Longchamp. Latice, the Prix de Diane winner, is the leading figure in the Prix Vermeille, while the only British representative in the three Arc trials is Richard Hannon's Nysaean, who has André Fabre's Polish Summer to beat in the Prix Foy.