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Cunningham retains Fury faith despite Doncaster disappointment

Connections of the equine Tyson Fury retain full faith in his abilities after taking plenty of encouragement from his performance in the Pertemps St Leger.

The Richard Spencer-trained colt – who is named after the world heavyweight champion – lined up for the final Classic of the season at Doncaster having only made one racecourse appearance, when he was the comfortable winner of a novice stakes race at the same track.

The son of Iffraaj was not seen again until taking his big-race chance on Town Moor last Saturday, when he finished an eventual ninth of 11 runners, beaten 12 lengths by Galileo Chrome.

However, co-owner Phil Cunningham was bolstered by Tyson Fury’s late progress in the race and pointed out his encouraging sectional timings.

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“I suppose on one hand we were a little bit disappointed, because obviously we wouldn’t have gone there if we didn’t think we’d have finished closer,” he said.

“But I thought he ran a lovely race in hindsight. Kieran (Shoemark) looked after him – I thought he did the right thing, he showed up nicely from four furlongs out.

“His furlong from the fourth (furlong out) to the third, now we have the benefit of sectional timing, was the fastest furlong of any horse in the race. His combined time from the fourth (last) to the second was the fastest of any horse in the race.

“He’s a big baby, very immature and very green – everything we half expected. Like I say, I think Kieran looked after him. He could have finished closer if he wanted, but there was no point, we weren’t going to win.”

Cunningham anticipates Tyson Fury will make his next appearance in a less testing contest, perhaps stepping back down to the 12-furlong trip he won over on his racecourse debut.

“I think Richard will find a race for him in a couple of weeks’ time,” he said.

“Maybe slightly back in trip, a bit of a confidence boost, but I think we’ve got a cracking horse to look forward to for next year.

“Obviously we’ll discuss it with Richard, but I’d love to see him back at a mile and a half next time. Off the back of that run, we’ll probably determine where we go after that, or indeed if we put him away until next year.”

Heartened by the promise shown in his two runs starts to date, Cunningham is looking forward to seeing how the colt matures and progresses next season.

“The positive thing is that there’s no harm done,” he said.

“I’m just delighted to know we’ve got a horse that’s capable of competing at that level and I think we’ll be the biggest improver from the race for next season.”

Wait and see on next target for Galileo Chrome

Joseph O’Brien is in no rush to firm up future plans for his Pertemps St Leger hero Galileo Chrome.

The Australia colt was well fancied for the final Classic of the British Flat season at Doncaster on Saturday, having won each of his three previous starts this season at the Curragh, Leopardstown and Navan.

Galileo Chrome displayed class and courage to come out on top under a delighted Tom Marquand – a late substitute in the saddle for Irish apprentice Shane Crosse, who was forced to watch on from home after testing positive for Covid-19 on Friday.

O’Brien’s charge has now returned to County Kilkenny and the Piltown handler is keen to let the dust settle before considering the next course of attack.

“He’s home safe and sound. We were delighted with his performance and it was a special day,” he said.

“We’ll discuss things with his owners. We have a few different options for him and there’ll be no decision on where we go just yet.

“He’s entered in plenty of races and we can put him in any races he’s not in.

“At this stage we’ll just wait and see how he comes out of the race, speak with the owners and take it from there.”

Monday Musings: Quelle Weekend!

Compacting the 2020 racing season in Europe’s three major nations has caused some difficulties, but when weekends like the one we’ve just witnessed happen, then assuredly it will be remembered for many years, writes Tony Stafford.

The last of four days of the St Leger meeting started on Wednesday with a trial gathering of 2,500 spectators and then neutered back again to selected insiders only by rising Covid-19 infections, if not deaths, both locally and nationally. France, meanwhile, had its customary trials day on Sunday, three weeks ahead of the Arc meeting itself, and Irish Champions Weekend, at Leopardstown on Saturday and the Curragh yesterday, completed the puzzle.

Normally the trainers associated with the big winners would have wanted to be there to witness their achievements. That wasn’t the case for Joseph O’Brien, who completed an astonishing feat in his 28th year by becoming the only man since the great Harry Wragg to first ride and then train a St Leger winner when Galileo Chrome got the better of Berkshire Rocco under Tom Marquand on Town Moor.

As has been widely reported, Marquand fortuitously got the ride on his first Classic winner because his proposed mount, English King, was re-routed to Longchamp’s Grand Prix de Paris yesterday - where he ran disappointingly. Original booked rider Shane Crosse was in quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19 despite showing no symptoms and “feeling on top of the world”.

Harry Wragg, born in Sheffield in 1902, was one of the leading jockeys between the wars. Known as the Head Waiter for his preferred style of leaving his challenge late – a 1930’s prototype of Jamie Spencer - he won two St Legers, although only the first was truly authentic. Sandwich, in 1931, was trained at Newmarket by Jack Jarvis for the 6th Earl of Rosebery, once captain of Surrey CCC. The 1943 winner, Herringbone, trained by Walter Earl for the 17th Earl of Derby, the last of his six St Legers and twenty Classics in all, was a war-time substitute run at Newmarket.

Wragg’s sole training success in the St Leger was in the 1969 race when Intermezzo won under the Australian jockey Ron Hutchinson for Gerry Oldham. Thus Wragg, who began his training career in 1947, took 38 years between riding the winner of the Classic and training one.

Joseph O’Brien had retired from riding by the age of 23 having been a triple champion jockey in Ireland. He was 20 years old when Landing Light won the St Leger. Compared with Wragg he certainly isn’t any kind of “waiter” with just seven years between the two events.

Back in 1980, a year before Wragg’s retirement from training and only five before he died aged 82, I visited him at his Abington Place stables in Newmarket’s Bury Road, accompanied by his son Geoff who would take over the stable with continued success in 1982.

I went there with Prestatyn-born Bryn Crossley, who sadly died two years ago, as at the time I was helping book his rides. We worked together for only that season, when he was apprenticed to Geoff Huffer at Cheveley Park, the racing stables now the location for Cheveley Park Stud. It was mutually satisfying when that very popular and personable young Welshman became Champion Apprentice that year.

Harry Wragg had booked Bryn for his three-year-old filly Popaway, a sound stayer who from (questionable) memory had 6st9lb in the long handicap. The old master, a true innovator, and one of the first trainers to weigh his horses regularly, wanted to go through the race with Crossley and it was quite an experience for us both. Bryn claimed 5lb and was planning to get down to 7st2lb – which he comfortably managed - for only the second time in 1980. The first was on Jim Bolger’s Lynconwise at Leicester, a race he won very easily on Whit Monday.

There was a chance that if the original Cesarewitch top-weight were to come out at the overnight stage as was rumoured, there would be a big hike in the weights, but he stayed in and that left the very tough Popsi’s Joy, owned and bred by the bearded solicitor Victor Morley Lawson and trained by Michael Haynes at Epsom, to run almost loose on 8st6lb.

Haynes shrewdly booked Lester Piggott, still at the height of his powers in his mid-forties, for the ride at his minimum weight. Two furlongs out Crossley took Popaway to the front, but Lester and Popsi’s Joy were always going easily and soon joined the filly. The two horses quickly drew away from the other 25 runners which included Sir Michael, who had won for Huffer the previous year and John Cherry, successful four years previously under Piggott. Popsi’s Joy won comfortably by a couple of lengths with Popaway around five lengths clear of the rest.

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Popsi’s Joy won eight races in 1980 and 17 in all, culminating in a four-length victory as a 10-year-old in the Tote Cesarewitch Trial at Warwick. He survived at Michael Haynes’ stables until dying, aged 25, in 2000.

There was a post-script, as the top-weight, who did eventually miss the race despite having been kept in until the final declaration stage, was to make one further minor footnote in his career.

In those days, the Press Association, where I worked for three years in the early 1970’s, used to issue for Weatherbys a daily bulletin of Official Scratchings in a system far removed from the instant technical processes of today. At the bottom was a sorry final section entitled, “All engagements – dead”. There within a few days of the race, while we were still bemoaning Popaway’s bad luck to be so far out of the weights, was the name of the absent top-weight. If that had happened in 2020, the conspiracy theorists would have had a field day. I think at the time I was just about the only person who noticed.

Incidentally, Morley Lawson had already owned a Cesarewitch winner, the Arthur Pitt-trained Ocean King, ridden by lightweight Tommy Carter in 1974. The previous year, Morley Lawson, then aged 67, won an amateur riders’ Flat race on that horse. I’ve mentioned here a million times about my part-time additional job as Editor of the old Racehorse newspaper. In the first front page piece I wrote for that still revered weekly, I happened to select Ocean King, who won at a long price.

In that issue, it was attributed to The Editor, and on the following Monday morning, my colleague Roger Jackson passed on a letter from Peter O’Sullevan noting the great tip and wishing him a successful career in the future. Understandably Roger’s name, alongside his greyhound selections, was the only one the always very gracious future Sir Peter could find to congratulate.

***

This past weekend was one of tremendous success for Irish stables, not least for the evergreen Dermot Weld who sent over his improving filly Tarnawa to beat Jean-Claude Rouget’s self-professed “champion filly” Raabibah by three lengths in the Prix Vermeille a couple of hours before his Search For A Song repeated last year’s success in the Irish St Leger. Amazingly – and I’d be willing to bet he never expected it to happen – that took him level on nine wins with Aidan O’Brien in that Classic’s long history.

Weld is 72, but he was not the oldest winning trainer at the meeting. Both Jessica Harrington, born a year before Weld, and Jim Bolger, her senior by a hardly-believable five years when you see him, were on the scorecard yesterday. The only notable non-celebrant on the day was Kevin Prendergast, still going strong and training winners. Kevin was born in 1932, the year after Harry Wragg’s first St Leger win as a jockey!

Harrington’s Cayenne Pepper won the Group 2 Blandford Stakes, but it was the exuberant triumph of her two-year-old colt Cadillac in Saturday’s mile Group 2, a win and you’re in ticket to the Breeders’ Cup, that caused most eyebrows to rise.

Over the weekend, British-based – or more accurately Yorkshire-based – trainers won four races, three of them yesterday. The single link is that John Quinn, who won a Group 2 race with the ultra-tough seven-year-old Safe Voyage on Saturday;  Richard Fahey, with a Sunday double, and Kevin Ryan, who won a sprint with Glass Slippers, are all Irish.

Mrs Harrington needs to get somebody, presumably her daughter Kate who often works as an expert – which she surely is! - on Racing TV’s Irish coverage as well as an important cog in mum’s operation, to talk to Wikipedia. That fount of sometimes accurate knowledge, says she is “principally a trainer of National Hunt horses but has had some success in Flat racing”. Well said, Wikipedia.

One of the features of this behind-closed-doors season, which started in Ireland with Naas on June 8, has been the astounding success of the irrepressible Johnny Murtagh. He has already won 41 races, gaining a career-defining Group 1 win in Saturday’s Matron Stakes with the ever-improving Champers Elysees who came from last to first to see off the Group 1-winning  Coolmore pair of Peaceful (Aidan) and Fancy Blue (Donnacha). Johnny, highly successful in his time at Ballydoyle of course, continued riding when he first took out a training licence and was in the saddle in 2013 for his first four stakes winners, three at Group level. Champers Elysees was his first Group 1 and a memorable one.

Murtagh also concluded the two-day and two-venue extravaganza with a spectacular handicap win with his 99-rated (up from 68 three runs ago) Sonnyboyliston, who drew almost five lengths clear of the other 21 runners. Talk about a Group winner in handicapper’s clothing!

Meanwhile Dad and the two precocious sons more than did their bit to keep the family firm in the ascendant. Donnacha had only a handful of runners over the two days but yesterday his Galileo filly, Shale, carrying the Derrick Smith silks, reversed Debutante Stakes form with Joseph’s Pretty Gorgeous when making all in the Group 1 Moyglare Stakes.

Joseph wasn’t content with just the one Group 1 winner over the weekend, though. In a high-class renewal of the National Stakes his once-raced Thunder Moon produced a sensational burst from an unpromising position in the colours of Mrs Chantal Regalo-Gonzalez. Aidan’s duo of Wembley and St Mark’s Basilica avoided trouble in that congested affair to take second and third. It would be more than interesting to see Thunder Moon and Cadillac line up in competition before the end of the year, maybe in Kentucky.

And as ever there was Aidan. His two 2020 Derby winners, Santiago from the Curragh and Serpentine, who made such a mess of the Derby field at Epsom, reappeared, although to be pedantic Santiago had run third to Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup in between.

Serpentine went across to France for the Grand Prix de Paris and could finish no nearer than fourth to his hitherto disappointing stable-companion Mogul, who had gone into Epsom as the Ballydoyle number one. This was Mogul’s third run since Epsom and he took advantage of his subsequent race-hardening to suggest that those earlier high hopes for him were not illusory. Serpentine, foregoing front-running this time, will have plenty to say in the future, I’m sure.

The two 2019 Derby winners were also out over the weekend. While Curragh hero Sovereign could not keep up the gallop after setting the pace in the Irish St Leger, Anthony Van Dyck avenged that Goodwood Cup reverse for his stable by holding Stradivarius all the way to the line in the Prix Foy at Longchamp. He has not always been able to replicate the form that won him last year’s Derby but on his day, and given fast ground, he’s a formidable Group 1 performer.

Sorry Aidan, it’s not going to get any easier keeping that armada of middle-distance Classic colts apart, especially when you add to the mix Tiger Moth, a four-length Group 3 winner on Saturday in his first race since a strong-finishing second in the Irish Derby. And that’s not to forget where Magical comes into the picture. Good enough to stay close to Ghaiyyath before outpointing her York nemesis memorably in Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes, this insatiable five-year-old phenomenon will keep her male companions in the shadows for as long as she wants to continue.

- TS

Twist of fate makes Marquand’s St Leger dream come true

Tom Marquand counted his blessings after fate contrived to give him a first domestic Classic triumph in the Pertemps St Leger on Galileo Chrome at Doncaster.

When the four-day meeting began on Wednesday, the 22-year-old rising star had been booked for English King – but when it became apparent that horse would be heading for the Grand Prix de Paris on Sunday, he was without a ride again.

But as happened in this year’s Derby – when he lost the ride on English King and was snapped up instead for Khalifa Sat and was second on Andrew Balding’s 50-1 outsider – there was a twist in his favour.

As Marquand arrived at the start on Sacred before Doncaster’s Flying Childers Stakes on Friday, he was told he was going to partner Galileo Chrome for Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien – after Shane Crosse had tested positive for Covid-19.

He had to pinch himself, but it turned out to be a dream of a spare ride.

Marquand shows maturity and ability way beyond his years – and to win the world’s oldest Classic, founded in 1776, was just reward for his talent.

He said: “I can’t say how bad I feel for Shane Crosse – because we’ve all been in situations where things haven’t gone our way, and we’re both relatively young – so I can relate, and he’ll be sat at home in pieces, no doubt.

“I guess in racing it all comes back round. No doubt he’ll have his time, and I look forward to seeing him do it.

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“I’ve never met Shane in person. We’ve both only been riding a relatively short time – and I guess, without the restrictions over the last few months, he’d have been over here and I would have come across him.

“I’ll certainly have a chat with him later on.

“It really is a dream come true. Classics in Britain are some of the hardest races go come across. Group One races in Britain are equally hard.

“To have my first Group One winner on UK soil in the St Leger for Joseph O’Brien who, when I as growing up was one of the best jockeys in racing, is mind-blowing.”

Marquand spent a lot of this winter in Australia, and enjoyed a highly-successful time with two Group One successes.

Apart from the odd minor blip, 2020 has continued to be the year of a lifetime – despite the problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Time and time again this year, it’s all fallen my way,” he said.

“I had a few minor bumps in the road, but I wouldn’t mind the rest of my career going that way.

“It’s incredible how racing works everything out. I lost English King in the Derby but rode Khalifa Sat for Andrew Balding and finished second.

“I got English King back for today, and he has ended up going to France for a more favourable race (for him).

“Obviously I couldn’t go there, because I would have to do a week’s quarantine afterwards – which wasn’t something I could do – and Shane Crosse’s misfortune has luckily for me ended in my lap.

“I was able to have a good look at this horse’s form when I was in my hotel room. It looked like the mile six and a half would be within his reach, and he has shown today what a horse he is.”

Marquand is proud of partner Hollie Doyle's achievements
Marquand is proud of partner Hollie Doyle’s achievements (Tim Goode/PA)

Marquand’s partner Hollie Doyle has had a record-breaking last 12 months herself, setting a new highest tally for most winners by a female jockey in a year and having already reached a century earlier than she did in 2019.

He stressed how proud they are of each other’s careers.

“There is no top dog in the house,” said Marquand.

“We are both really fortunate to be in the position we’re in and have the run we’ve had over the last couple of years.

“We are both proud of each other’s achievements – and long may the household continue on this path.”

Galileo Chrome shines brightest of all in St Leger

Galileo Chrome provided jockey Tom Marquand with a remarkable first Classic victory in the Pertemps St Leger at Doncaster.

Marquand discovered he would be riding Joseph O’Brien’s colt barely 24 hours before the big race – after regular jockey Shane Crosse became unavailable because of a positive test for Covid-19.

While Crosse must therefore begin his period of isolation in Ireland, Marquand took his place and prevailed by a neck at 4-1 from 16-1 shot Berkshire Rocco, trained by Andrew Balding.

Pyledriver appeared set to make a bold bid for glory before wandering from a true line out on his own on the far side, eventually finishing third, a length further back. Just behind in fourth was Santiago, who was sent off the 5-2 favourite for Aidan O’Brien and Frankie Dettori.

Marquand, who earlier this year lost the ride on English King to Frankie Dettori before the Derby, said: “My heart goes out to Shane Crosse.

“I can’t say how bad I feel for him because we’ve all been in situations where things haven’t gone our way and we’re both relatively young, so I can relate and he’ll be sat at home in pieces, no doubt.

“I guess in racing it all comes back round. No doubt he’ll have his time and I look forward to seeing him do it.”

A big thumbs-up from Tom Marquand
A big thumbs-up from Tom Marquand (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He added: “I was told I’d got the ride on this horse just before I rode Sacred in the Flying Childers on Friday.

“It really is a dream come true. Classics in Britain are some of the hardest races to come across. Group One races in Britain are equally hard.

“To have my first Group One winner on UK soil in the St Leger for Joseph O’Brien, who when I as growing up was one of the best jockeys in racing and is now training and doing a similar job – it’s mind-blowing to get an opportunity like this.”

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O’Brien, watching from home as a Covid-19 precaution rather than attending Irish Champions Weekend, voiced his congratulations to Marquand – and sympathy and encouragement for Crosse.

He said: “It’s fantastic, a great performance from the horse – very tough, genuine and stayed very well.

“Tom gave him a fantastic ride.

“It’s great for Tom. He’s obviously been riding extremely well for a number of years now all over the world – and when he was available, we didn’t have to look any further.

“It’s very well-deserved.”

Shane Crosse (red and yellow silks) has ridden Galileo Chrome in his previous three victories this summer, but was absent at Doncaster
Shane Crosse (red and yellow silks) has ridden Galileo Chrome in his previous three victories this summer, but was absent at Doncaster (PA)

As for Crosse, he added: “Shane, I’m sure, is obviously gutted to miss the ride on him.

“But Shane’s a young man, and he’s a very talented rider – and he’ll have plenty of big rides in the future.”

O’Brien was himself adding St Leger victory as a trainer to his success when riding Leading Light at Doncaster for his father Aidan seven years ago, having come within three-quarters of a length of landing the Triple Crown with Camelot in 2012.

Unable to witness the action in person on the track, he said: “I’m at home today – Shane obviously had been in the yard during the week, so just as a precaution any of his close contacts are in the process of being tested, and I just haven’t gone racing to err on the side of caution really.

“But I’m enjoying the racing! I’m lucky enough to be able to watch it from home.”

Balding was thrilled with Berkshire Rocco’s performance.

Andrew Balding's Berkshire Rocco was an admirable runner-up
Andrew Balding’s Berkshire Rocco was an admirable runner-up (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He wears his heart on his sleeve,” said the Kingsclere trainer.

“He kept digging in. It wasn’t quite enough, but he’s given us all a big thrill.

“There were no hiding places. We had the run of the race, and no excuses.

“I don’t usually shout – but I did today. It’s a race we all want to win, and we’re getting closer, so we’ll keep going.

“He has got options this season, but we’ll wait a few days before making a decision.”

Berkshire Rocco’s jockey Andrea Atzeni added: “He was very straightforward.

“He got into a nice rhythm and picked up all the way to the line. Unfortunately the winner kept finding a bit more. He’ll be a nice horse next year.”

Pyledriver just ran out of stamina, according to his jockey Martin Dwyer
Pyledriver just ran out of stamina, according to his jockey Martin Dwyer (David Davies/PA)

Martin Dwyer reported the William Muir-trained Pyledriver’s stamina just ran out as he moved up in trip after his Group Two wins over a mile and a half this season.

“He didn’t stay – it was too far,” said the jockey.

“He was over-travelling. After York, I said he could come back to a mile and a quarter. He’s a very honest horse.

“It was unnatural for him. There was a point in the race where I should have been working through the gears and picking up, but I’m having to steady him down.

“Turning in, I thought he’d win – but he was tired in the last furlong. He was out of his comfort zone.”

Irish Derby winner Santiago (left) was back in fourth at Doncaster
Irish Derby winner Santiago (left) was back in fourth at Doncaster (PA)

Santiago (5-2 favourite) and Hukum were both well-fancied, but had to settle for fourth and fifth respectively.

Dettori said of the former: “He wants a bit of cut in the ground.

“He came there to win, but he didn’t level off like I thought he would.

“I felt on softer ground mine would be a better horse.”

Hukum’s trainer Owen Burrows added: “It was just the last furlong and a half.

“He was out on his head a bit. He stayed at Newbury, but in lesser company. In this class it was a bit too far for him.

“We always thought he wasn’t a Cup horse. We’ll look forward to next year.”

Muir full of hope, Pyledriver expected to go distance in St Leger

William Muir admits it will be a dream come true if Pyledriver can provide him with a first top-level success in the Pertemps St Leger.

The Harbour Watch colt was a 40-1 shot when runner-up on his three-year-old debut at Kempton in early June, since when he has won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Great Voltigeur at York, with a luckless run in the Derby sandwiched in between.

Pyledriver disputes favouritism for the season’s final Classic – and his trainer is in confident mood.

“The horse had a quiet week to 10 days after York, but he’s back in his normal routine now and he’s as fit as a flea,” said Muir.

“You don’t dream about how good it would feel to win, you dream about all the things that could go wrong.

“If it comes off, what it would do for me and the yard would be immense.”

The one big question hanging over Pyledriver is whether his stamina will last out over Doncaster’s mile and three-quarters, in a race that forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

Muir added: “On the dam’s side of his pedigree he will stay, but he is by Harbour Watch, which is why everyone is asking the question.

“I think he’ll stay. If he’d gone another couple of furlongs at York, would anything have beaten him? I don’t think they would.

“I’m in such a good place because the owners have said ‘what’s the worst that can happen if he doesn’t stay? He’ll get beat and then we can come back in trip’. There’s no gun at my head and owners saying ‘if he gets beat you’re shot to pieces’.

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“He is in fantastic form and if he stays, it will take a very good one to beat him.”

Santiago is Aidan O'Brien's chief contender for the St Leger
Santiago is Aidan O’Brien’s chief contender for the St Leger (PA)

It is 19 years since Aidan O’Brien claimed his first St Leger success with 2001 hero Milan, since when he has added to his tally with Brian Boru (2003), Scorpion (2005), Leading Light (2013), Capri (2017) and Kew Gardens (2018).

The Ballydoyle trainer’s chief hope this time around is Santiago, winner of the Queen’s Vase and the Irish Derby before placing third behind star stayer Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup.

Reflecting on that most recent performance, O’Brien said: “It maybe didn’t work as we’d liked. We usually like to take our time on him and he just hit the gates on Ryan (Moore) and he couldn’t really get him back. He was just sitting in the second position and Ryan would have felt maybe he was a gear too high all the way.

“Because of that he went from travelling very well to having to drop him and ask him to go and race very quickly and he really didn’t get his breath to go again.

“It didn’t really work, but it didn’t do him any harm and he seems to be in good form. We had to give him a little bit of an easy time after it, because obviously when things don’t work or go smooth for a horse usually they have a harder race, but he seems to be in good form again.”

Frankie Dettori partners Santiago and rates Pyledriver as his chief threat.

He said: “Santiago is a Classic winner, he stayed two miles at Goodwood. In an open race, he’s a great ride.

“William Muir’s horse is the one to beat – without a doubt. You need class to stay – and he’s got class.”

O’Brien also saddles Dawn Patrol and Mythical, while his son Joseph is represented by a major contender in Galileo Chrome, who will be ridden Tom Marquand after regular pilot Shane Crosse returned a positive test for Covid-19 on Friday morning, before travelling from Ireland.

The son of Australia is three from three this season, but faces a step up in class.

O’Brien junior said: “Last time out he quickened up impressively, he showed a big turn of foot. It was quite a hot race, obviously not as hot as the St Leger, but it was quite hot and he couldn’t have been any more impressive.

“I think he goes there with a good each-way chance. He’s got to step up a little to win, but we’re hoping he’ll run very well.”

Hukum is a similarly progressive type for trainer Owen Burrows and owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, having impressed in winning the King George V Stakes at the Royal meeting and the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury so far this season.

The owner’s racing manager, Angus Gold, said: “We’re still learning about him, he’s lightly raced for the time of year, but he’s done everything well this season.

“Last year I thought he was going to be a lovely horse for this year but he was disappointing us in the spring, everyone told me he was showing nothing.

Hukum on his way to winning the Geoffrey Freer Stakes
Hukum on his way to winning the Geoffrey Freer Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“We went to Ascot to see where we were and obviously he won that well and it that turned a light on in his head. He’s done really well since.

“Hopefully he’ll run a very good race. I’m not saying he’s going to win a Leger, but I don’t think he’ll be far away.

“Owen has been at pains to say he’s not simply a stayer, but at the same time he stayed well enough at Newbury to make you think he won’t be beaten for stamina. He might not be good enough, but I’ll be surprised if it’s a lack of stamina that beats him.

“Hopefully next year we’ll be looking at races like the Hardwicke and the King George.”

Tyson Fury looked the part on his Doncaster debut
Tyson Fury looked the part on his Doncaster debut (Nigel Kirby/PA)

Tyson Fury was a winner on his debut at Doncaster in early July, but has not been seen in competitive action since.

There was talk his boxing namesake might be in attendance this weekend, but with the general public no longer permitted to attend following a change in protocols, that now appears unlikely.

Trainer Richard Spencer said: “It’s a tall ask, obviously, but his work has been good and he’s the only unbeaten horse in the race!

“I think Tyson will be watching at home, so fingers crossed the horse runs a nice race.”

Mark Johnston’s Subjectivist, the Andrew Balding-trained Berkshire Rocco, David Simcock’s Mohican Heights and Sunchart from Andrew Slattery’s yard complete the line-up after the Grand Prix de Paris-bound English King was, as expected, declared a non-runner.