Racing: Opposition wanes for User Friendly

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The Independent Online
EIGHT horses were declared for the St Leger yesterday to further highlight racing's growing obsession with speed.

The remorseless dwindling of staying horses in training can be traced by the size of fields for the world's oldest Classic. When Toulon beat nine opponents last year he had to endure the most congested passage in the race for seven years.

Since Commanche Run was successful in 1984 every St Leger until last season had been contested by a maximum of eight runners. A son of Commanche Run, Bonny Scot, is among the market leaders this year and bookmakers seem confused about his chances. Luca Cumani's colt was eased by William Hill and Ladbrokes yesterday just as Coral were moving him the other way.

User Friendly remains a strong favourite to wrest the St Leger from the colts for the first time since Oh So Sharp completed the fillies' triple crown in 1985.

Her task may be simplified still further this week as Alec Stewart's Shuailaan has yet to be declared a certain starter. 'No decision on Shuailaan's participation will be made until I've talked with owner Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum in the next couple of days,' the Newmarket trainer said yesterday. 'I am not sure he will stay the mile-and-three-quarters'

ST LEGER (Doncaster, Saturday): Coral: 6-4 User Friendly, 11-4 Bonny Scot, 7-1 Allegan & Rain Rider, 8-1 Sonus, 10-1 Assessor, 12-1 Mack The Knife, 25-1 Shuailaan. Ladbrokes: 6-4 User Friendly, 3-1 Bonny Scot, 7-1 Allegan & Rain Rider, 8-1 Sonus, 12-1 Assessor, 16-1 Mack The Knife, 25-1 Shuailaan. William Hill: 13-8 User Friendly, 11-4 Bonny Scot, 7-1 Sonus, 8-1 Allegan & Rain Rider, 10-1 Assessor, 12-1 Mack The Knife, 25-1 Shuailaan.

(Photograph omitted)

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