Doncaster preview: St Leger (15.45)
Bondi Beach has a progressive profile and can take another step forward to provide leading Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien with a fifth win in the final classic of the season, the St Leger at Doncaster (15.45).
The Balldoyle handler saddles two runners in this year’s renewal of the 1m 6f contest after the late withdrawal of Order Of St George, but Bondi Beach looks the pick and has struck form at the right time.
Bondi Beach didn’t make his debut until May of this year when nudged out to beat stable companion Bantry Bay by a short-head at Leopardstown.
The colt was then arguably given too much to do when staying on strongly from well off the pace to be beaten 1/2 alength in a 1m 4f Listed contest at the same venue, before getting back to winning ways in the Group 3 Curragh Cup when beating stable companion Order Of St George by a short-head.
Bondi Beach was value for more than the winning margin as jockey Seamie Heffernan dropped his whip a furlong and a half from home, and it was to the three-year-old’s credit that he responded well under a hands and heels ride to get up on the line.
It was an effort which suggested Bondi Beach needed keeping firmly onside, and that view was confirmed last time out when the well-bred son of Galileo was beaten just 1/2 a length by Storm The Stars in the Group 2 Great Voligeur at York three weeks ago.
Bondi Beach looked unlucky loser as he was coming with what looked to be a well-timed run before getting carried right across the track by the winner.
To me eyes Bondi Beach lost vital momentum and ground at a crucial stage and should have got the race in the stewards’ room.
It was nevertheless a most pleasing effort, and the step back up in trip looks sure to suit and can enable Bondi Beach to gain his revenge.
Storm The Stars is a really tough sort who hails from in-form yard of William Haggas and looks the obvious danger.
Prior to winning the Voltigeur, the colt had finished a cracking third to Golden Horn in the Investec Derby at Epsom and a fine second to Jack Hobbs in the Irish equivalent.
The son of Sea The Stars also ran well when third in the Group 1 Grand Prix De Paris at Longchamp and brings the best form into the contest.
However, Storm The Stars has had a very hard and long campaign and I am not convinced that he will truly stay 1m 6f.