THE Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes is normally a telling clue ahead of the St Leger but it may have more to it this year with warm favourite Cross Counter up for a trip to Australia.
He heads the betting at a solid 7-4 with Aidan O’Brien also holding a strong hand in the race.
1. Kew Gardens – Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore (7-2)
Shoulders a 5lbs penalty for a group 1 win in France, but that was much easier than this and has it all to prove here.
Arguably wants further, but needs to show some consistency and back that up if he is to be Ballydoyle’s St Leger hopeful.
Aidan O’Brien’s yard has had a well-publicised up and down season, but he has brought plenty of runners over to the Knavesmire and it will be interesting to see how they get on in earlier races.
Aidan O’Brien on Kew Gardens
“He’s in good form.
“We’re looking at Doncaster with Kew Gardens, but he’d like a nice bit of ground so it will probably be where the ground is going to be nice that he’d go.”
2. Old Persian – Charlie Appleby/James Doyle
The second string for Godolphin but shouldn’t be ignored. He’s been freshened up since a creditable effort in the Irish Derby and had been on the up before that.
Won well at Royal Ascot, and why this requires more, you can’t rule that out with the season Appleby has had.
The Irish Derby was a messy race and he had his supporters before that. He won’t just be in there for Cross Counter.
3. Cross Counter – Charlie Appleby/William Buick
The hot favourite and for good reason. The Melbourne Cup is the aim and he should win this if that is a realistic target.
The Glorious Goodwood run is easy to knock on paper, but he broke the track record and has shown no signs that his improvement is done.
Will get further in time but doesn’t lack speed and connections are positive on him ahead of this Group 2.
Charlie Appleby on Cross Counter and Old Persian
“He must have a great chance of winning the Voltigeur, though we respect plenty of others in a strong field.
“He showed his potential last start, and I feel he remains on an upward curve.”
“Put a line through his last run.
“Backing up was quick enough, but the tactics were not what we expected either, and he wasn’t suited.
“I feel this is the right race for him and the track will suit him, as it’s a nice, galloping track. This has been very much the plan since the Irish Derby.”
“We’ve got to get the Voltigeur out of the way first and foremost, but obviously if he goes and wins that, it puts him right in the mix for the St Leger.”
4. M C Muldoon – Peter Chapelle-Hyam/Christophe Soumillon (40-1)
A fascinating runner but has plenty of ground to make up with most of these.
He showed plenty to win on debut at Nottingham before a decent run at Listed level in France.
The form of that has played out well enough, but not enough to win this.
Would have to show heaps of improvement but interesting connections throw him into this on only his third outing.
5. Nelson – Aidan O’Brien/Michael Hussey (40-1)
A likely pacemaker for Kew Gardens and Ballydoyle.
Has shown promise in his career but hasn’t progressed as hoped this season. Would also be suited by some cut in the ground.
6. Sevenna Star – John Gosden/Frankie Dettori (25-1)
It’s not often you see a Gosden and Dettori horse at this price, in any race.
He hasn’t been seen since the Derby but he suffered all sorts of problems in that.
He would definitely had preferred some rain in the build up, but they need to get his season going again and this could be a useful stepping stone.
Would have given him a big each way shout had York seen some rain.
Frankie Dettori on Sevenna Star
“He comes here having had a long lay-off since the Derby.
“I am concerned about the ground, I am afraid it will be a little bit too quick for him.”
7. The Pentagon – Aidan O’Brien/Wayne Lordan (7-1)
Will have his fair share of supporters despite not winning all season.
But showed signs of finding his feet in the Irish Derby and further improvement wouldn’t see him miles away here.
Needs more but has conditions and Ballydoyle have four in the race which could see them set it up for either this horse or Kew Gardens.
8. Wells Farhh Go – Tim Easterby/David Allan (11-2)
Has been lined up for this race and the St Leger a long way out and came good at Newmarket last time out.
Showed bundles of stamina last time and connections really believe in this horse.
Will have plenty of local support and would be great for the Easterby team if they mixed it with the likes of Godolphin and Coolmore on the big stage.
Tim Easterby and David Allan on Wells Farhh Go
“He’s in very good form. I’m very happy with him and the aim is the Leger.
“He wants good ground and he’s in good order, so it’s fingers crossed.”
“He’s obviously a very good horse, but it’s a very good race.
“It will be interesting to see how he runs here with the Leger in mind.
“He was by far the best horse at Newmarket, we just rode him wrong earlier in the season.”
9. Zabriskie – Aidan O’Brien/Fran Berry
The outsider of the field and a likely team player for Ballydoyle.
Could be used as a pacemaker and unlikely to be able to mix it with these at the top level.
Only has a maiden win to his name.