Cazoo St Leger (Group 1)
THE final classic of the season is no stranger to controversy, and once again the stewards intervened to amend the result, although there was no argument about the winner, with Eldar Eldarov (Roger Varian/David Egan) sweeping through from off the pace to beat Haskoy (Ralph Beckett/Frankie Dettori) by two lengths.
The latter was found to have interfered with fourth-placed Giavellotto (Marco Botti/Neil Callan), and was subsequently demoted to that position, with New London (Charlie Appleby/Will Buick) - half a length behind Haskoy - promoted to second, and Giavellotto to third. Beckett has appealed Haskoy’s demotion.
The winner was sent off at 9/2, and while the controversial incident certainly did him no harm, he was the clear winner on merit, with New London appearing not to stay the extended mile and three-quarters having travelled well enough.
That assessment may look a little harsh given his final position, but he brought the best form into the race, and although well positioned with a furlong and a half left, he lost ground on the leaders in the final furlong, and was being closed down by the fifth, sixth and seventh at the line.
Hoo Ya Mal also failed to stay, weakening quickly late on, and beating just one home.
French Claim raced wide in the early stages, leading from rank-outsider Lizzie Jean, with New London and Haskoy matching strides behind the leaders. Paddy Twomey’s colt still held a clear lead turning for home and shunned the inside rail.
With half a mile to go, it was Dettori who decided to commit, pushing Haskoy up the inside of the leader, whose lack of pace saw him swamped at the three-furlong pole.
At this point, the field fanned out, promising a clean race, but when Haskoy was brought under a right-handed drive, she drifted sharply towards the inside rail, badly squeezing Callan on Giavellotto.
Haskoy still led with just over a furlong left, but both New London and Eldar Eldarov were bearing down on her having raced wider in the straight, and the latter hit the front inside the last, staying on powerfully to put distance between himself and his rivals.
He had looked a stayer of some potential when getting up on the line to win the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and was clearly better suited by this trip than when a little disappointing behind Onesto on the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris.
Varian - winning the race for the second time having previously taken it with Kingston Hill in 2014 - said: “I quietly thought he had a real big shout today. Not everybody was wowed by his run in France last time out, but the winner went and pushed Luxembourg all the way in the Irish Champion Stakes.
“He had a tough race that day which is why he didn’t run again, and he was only just getting going at the line in France. His run at Royal Ascot showed he had stamina in abundance and that race is proving a good trial for the Leger. He’s also handled soft ground as a two-year-old, so I knew he’d stay and handle the ground, it was whether he was good enough.
“Sometimes the longer you do something the harder things get, so it gets more satisfying. I think we’d only been training three or four years when Kingston Hill won the Leger, so this is a very sweet success.
“I think we see him as a Cup horse next season, he’s blessed with stamina and has an admirable attitude. If he stays sound, we could have him for the next two, three or four years. I think he’s very exciting.
“I’m delighted for David [Egan], you won’t meet a nicer guy, he’s genuine, hard working and gracious in defeat while not being obnoxious in victory.”
“The whole nation is saddened by the loss of the Queen, everyone in racing has been hit hard as we’ve lost our patron really. We’re grateful racing went ahead today; I think it’s what she would have wanted. The Royal Family is grieving, and our thoughts are with them.”
Typically, Egan was delighted with his win but thinking about others in his moment of triumph. He said: “I was in the position I wanted to be, but I got a bump early in the straight [from New London]. That almost helped me, though, as it woke him up, he wasn’t taking me into the race given how well he’d travelled throughout.
“He’s going to be a proper stayer. Ease in the ground helped and he hit the line really strong. It’s fantastic, a classic, I’m gobsmacked, I don’t know what’s going on! I got a lovely clean run after that little bump, and I was away from the trouble on the inside.
“It was straightforward. What a horse! He’s done nothing wrong; he just wasn’t suited to a mile and a half on quick ground in France, but Onesto won and look how well he ran in Ireland.
“I lost the ride on Mishriff this year, but winning a classic is something special. It’s a week since Jack de Bromhead passed away and he was who I thought about crossing the line.”