With the 1,000 Guineas, 2,000 Guineas, Oaks and Derby having already taken place at Newmarket and Epsom Downs in May and June respectively, we have now witnessed four of the 2023 British flat season’s five thrilling Classics.
The spotlight has been on Frankie Dettori in the build-up to those renewals as the Italian is due to retire at the end of the campaign and he is not going out on a whimper having won the 2,000 Guineas with Chaldean and a seventh Oaks with Soul Sister, while Oisin Murphy won the 1,000 Guineas aboard Mawj and Auguste Rodin landed Aidan O’Brien his ninth Derby success.
There is a bit of a wait for the fifth and final Classic of the season as the St Leger doesn’t take place at Doncaster Racecourse until September 16. The old saying goes: ‘The fastest horse wins the Guineas, the luckiest horse wins the Derby – and the best horse wins the St Leger’. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the horses vying to be crowned the ‘best’.
White Birch – 7/1
The ante-post joint-favourite for the St. Leger at the time of writing, White Birch is available at best odds of 7/1 in the horse race betting. The John Murphy-trained horse won a maiden on his second outing on the all-weather at Dundalk last November and followed that up with a Group 3 success in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown.
He has been upped in class in both of his races since but has by no means been disgraced by his higher-grade competition — being beaten by the nose of The Foxes in the Group 2 Dante at York before a more than respectable third-place finish in the Derby. The additional two furlongs of the St Leger shouldn’t be a problem.
King Of Steel – 7/1
Another horse readily available at 7/1, King Of Steel is the joint-favourite alongside White Birch for the final British Classic of the season. The three-year-old is still lightly raced, with just two runs as a two-year-old for then trainer David Loughnane — winning comfortably on debut before a rather disappointing run in the Group 1 Trophy Stakes at Doncaster when coming home second last.
The three-year-old became upset in the stalls ahead of his reappearance in the Dante back in May, which was billed to be his first outing for new handler Roger Varian, and had to be withdrawn. That was far from ideal preparation for the Derby, but King Of Steel upset the odds to finish second by just half-a-length to Auguste Rodin from 66/1. Varian currently holds the St Leger crown having won it with Eldar Eldarov last September and he has a great chance of retaining the Classic.
Gregory – 8/1
A relatively unexposed horse, Gregory is currently fancied at odds as short as 8/1 despite the fact he has only been seen on the racecourse twice thus far in his career. The John and Thady Gosden-trained horse is yet to have a blemish on his race record though, winning by a length and three quarters on debut at Haydock in April before following up with a Listed success at Goodwood in May.
Both those wins came in races contested around the one-mile three-furlong mark, but Gregory’s connections are keen to get him up to 1m6f next time out, and if he can make it a hat-trick over that distance then his odds for the St Leger could be slashed further.