Marvellous Marvel wins St Leger


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The Independent Online

If you want a St Leger won, it seems, you must turn to the men whose specialist subject it clearly is. Masked Marvel gave trainer John Gosden his third in five years yesterday, and rider William Buick his second in a row. And, to boot, the colt recorded a course record time as he forged three lengths clear of Brown Panther through the final two furlongs.

The mile and three-quarter contest is the world's longest and oldest Classic – yesterday's edition was the 235th – and, arguably, the toughest. There was certainly no hiding place as Masked Marvel's stablemate Buthelezi set a searching gallop, a pace that had several rivals – notably Blue Bunting – in trouble. A fast time was no surprise; that it came against a fierce headwind down the demanding half-mile home straight made the 15-2 winner's performance the more creditable.

"He went past the line so strongly I had a problem pulling him up," said Buick, who scored last year on the stable's Arctic Cosmos. "He clicked into gear at the three-and-a-half marker, I kept the revs up and when I went for it, he just killed the rest off."

Masked Marvel's victory, in the colours of Bjorn Nielsen, was the successful culmination of a notably prescient long-term plan. "From the day I saw him as a yearling I thought he was a Leger type," said Gosden of the son of Montjeu. "He was a powerful little guy even then and he's got a great pedigree for the job. He's got the pace to drop back in trip, too. He's a proper horse."

Sea Moon, the 2-1 favourite, met some trouble in running and finished strongly to deprive Seville of third place, half a length behind Brown Panther. It was Gosden's fourth St Leger, after Shantou in 1996, Lucarno and Arctic Cosmos.

In the search for next year's Classic talent, Richard Hannon-trained Trumpet Major presented his credentials here with a clear-cut defeat of Red Duke in the Champagne Stakes. But not only does his array of juvenile talent also include the more highly regarded Harbour Watch, but more persuasive pointers to next year's 2,000 Guineas surely came yesterday at the Curragh, where Power repelled Dragon Pulse to take the Group One National Stakes and, in a lesser race, Born To Sea, a half-brother to mighty Sea The Stars, made an eyecatching winning debut.