Talent (far right): a three and three-quarter length winner of the OaksPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Talent bidding to break 21-year run in St Leger
TALENT will on Saturday bid to achieve something that has not been done for 21 years by becoming the first filly since User Friendly to win the Ladbrokes St Leger.
In the intervening period four fillies have finished second, while Look Here - like Talent trained by Ralph Beckett - was third in 2008. In recent seasons Classic winners Blue Bunting and Snow Fairy have disappointed at single-figure odds to buck the trend.
The Oaks winner, who finished last on her most recent start in the Irish equivalent, is a 16-1 chance and will face no more than 13 rivals. "Look Here ran a very good race for us in the St Leger when she was third [in 2008]. I wasn't sure she got home and it was probably a very good Leger, won by Conduit," said Beckett.
"Talent is in good shape. She has not had the ideal preparation, as I was keen to run her in the Yorkshire Oaks but the ground was too quick. I think she would be better with a run under her belt.
"She galloped at Kempton over a mile last week and we were pleased with the way it went. She doesn't knock herself out in her work.
"We have always felt she is a strong stayer and that the St Leger is the right race for her under the right conditions. She needs a bit of juice in the ground, not like the ground when she ran in the Irish Oaks.
"I am not convinced that the ground was the only reason for her poor performance in Ireland but I wouldn't want to run her on fast ground again until I knew for sure."
While Beckett is hoping for ground on the softer side David Wachman, who trains Irish Derby runner-up and Epsom Derby third Galileo Rock, is hoping for a quicker surface.
"Galileo Rock seems well and we are happy with him. He has run well in two Derbys and is very much entitled to take his chance on Saturday. His three-parts brother, Saddler's Rock, stays well and hopefully he does too.
"Good ground will be fine although fast going would be better. Wayne Lordan, who is a top-class jockey, will ride Galileo Rock again. The horses are running well."
On the likely ground Roderick Duncan, clerk of the course, said: "We have had 4.5mm of rain today but I walked the track this afternoon and the straight is where I want it to be, generally good.
"We have some more showers forecast overnight but only around 1mm and I will see in the morning how it has soaked in. I have kept the description good, good to firm in places, but the rain is certainly starting to ease it in places."
The forecast remains for lower temperatures in the teens rather than 20s in the run-up to racing on Wednesday when there could also be "a shower or two".