C'est Lah vie: so close for Dar team as Kew Gardens outpoints favourite
It was a case of so darn close for trainer John Gosden, jockey Frankie Dettori and Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber as Lah Ti Dar finished a valiant second behind main market rival Kew Gardens in the St Leger.
Having been given the go-ahead to run only on Wednesday, Lah Ti Dar was sent off favourite with an expectant Doncaster crowd willing Dettori on to another victory after the same connections’ Too Darn Hot had blown them all away in the Champagne Stakes half an hour before.
Dettori elected to track Kew Gardens but could not go with the Aidan O'Brien-trained colt at the top of the straight, with inexperience catching out the filly at an important moment on what was just her second run of the season and the fourth run of her career.
Nevertheless, Gosden was delighted with the performance of Lah Ti Dar and said: “That's the first real race she's had in her life. She was beaten by a proper horse, a proper Leger horse.
"She's run an absolute blinder and we're thrilled with her. We'll go to the Fillies & Mares on Champions Day now and then put her away for the year.”
After initially being left behind by Kew Gardens, Lah Ti Dar was making ground back at the end, eliciting one last roar from the crowd, but it was not enough as she ended up two and a half lengths back in second.
“The early pace was a lot slower than we thought it would be,” Gosden added. “The best horse won, make no mistake, but I like the way she was closing him down late on, she was getting to him and getting to him.
“There was a period at the three-furlong pole when you thought she wasn't going to be placed, but then she got balanced and organised.”
Dee Ex Bee is likely to be targeted at Cup races next year, with the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million series high up on the agenda, according to assistant trainer Charlie Johnston.
The Group 1 Gran Premio Del Jockey Club is the likely next target for Raymond Tusk, who finished sixth when trying to improve on the performance of Ventura Storm, runner-up in the 2016 St Leger for the same trainer-owner combination of Richard Hannon and Middleham Park Racing.
Hannon said: “He ran a good race. He settled better than we thought he would and he was little way back, but he finished sixth and there will be a lot of lovely days in him. He could go for the Italian race that Ventura Storm won two years ago and long term could be a Cup horse.”
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