It was a late call but Ballydoyle’s decision to switch Order of St George to the Irish St Leger at the Curragh on Sunday could be a winning one.
I thought he was the one to beat in the English St Leger as I was really taken with his last performance when he bolted up at the Curragh.
He also gets 11bs off the older horses at the final Irish Classic of the season is an all-aged race.
He’s a great galloper, a strong stayer and I love the way he won the last time.
Aidan O’Brien’s gain with Order of St George could be Kingfisher’s loss though – especially if the ground turns soft.
Kingfisher was unlucky in running when second in the Group One Ascot Gold Cup on firm ground but was trounced 16 lengths in third by Order of St George on soft ground at the Curragh last time.
Agent Murphy’s connections could also regret Order of St George lining up. Brian Meehan’s colt was impressive when winning the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury over 1m 4f and looks to have the ideal profile to run a big race.
Forgotten Rules ran out of steam at Royal Ascot and was beaten by Bondi Beach in the Curragh Cup over 1m 6f when favourite.
He’s on a slight retrieval mission but was unbeaten last year and won’t mind any give in the ground.
Reigning champion Brown Panther always gives his best but had a couple of big runs before he won impressively here last year under an enterprising ride. He’d have to be right back to his best to follow up though after the hold ups he’d had this year though.
Second Step could be a contender. He’s yet to win over 1m 6f but won a Group 1 race in Germany last time and is a course winner having won here last October on yielding ground. Luca Cumani is a trainer you’d have to respect as he doesn’t travel his horses unless he thinks they’ve a real chance.
Wicklow Brave is improving and ran very well in the Ebor when second to Litigant. My own Royal Diamond was also second in the Ebor before winning the Irish St Leger in 2012 so it can be done.
Johnny’s Picks: Order of St George Alternative: Agent Murphy
Moviesta drops back to 5f after winning over 6f last time and seems to handle all types of ground.
Jamie Spencer partners Maarek again after winning at Beverley and could go close again having been second here in May on good to yielding ground to Mustajeeb over 6f.
Toscanini steps into the unknown over the 5f trip but is really consistent over 6f and has shown plenty of pace in his races.
I’d love to see my old mate Sole Power get to use his final furlong burst of speed over his favoured trip – but if the rain arrives his wheels might start to spin.
Johnny’s Picks: Maarek Alternative: Moviesta
It could be a good day for Aidan O’Brien even before the St Leger is run as Ballydoyle looks the filly to beat in the Moyglare Stud Stakes. She beat Nemoralia at Newmarket the time before last and that one won well at Doncaster earlier this week.
O’Brien’s Air Force Blue won here over 6f the last day in the Group One Phoenix Stakes and had Royal Ascot winner Buratino in his pocket, having been beaten previously by that one at Royal Ascot in June,
The danger looks to be Jim Bolger’s Herald the Dawn who could be open to a lot of improvement and his Group 2 Futurity win at the Curragh last time on yielding to soft ground.
He’s going to have to be a bit special to beat Air Force Blue who had Royal Ascot winner Buratino in his pocket in the Phoenix Stakes the last time.
Jessica Harrington’s Final Frontier is unbeaten in two starts at the Curragh but will need to step up to trouble the top two in the market.
Johnny’s Picks: Air Force Blue Alternative: Herald the Dawn