Flag Of Honour and Latrobe head a cast of six for staying Classic
Comer Group International Irish St Leger (Group 1) | 3yo+ | 1m6f | RTE2/ATR
Not since 2005 has Aidan O'Brien gone through a season without winning at least one of the Irish Classics, but he needs one of his three runners in the Irish St Leger to do the business to extend that proud sequence.
O'Brien-trained horses have run second and third in this year's Irish 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas and Derby, and second in the Irish Oaks, and Flag Of Honour leads the Ballydoyle challenge for this six-runner event.
Flag Of Honour, the mount of Ryan Moore, comes into the race on the back of two wins over course and distance – the Group 2 Curragh Cup in July and Group 3 Irish St Leger Trial last month – and will be attempting to give his trainer a fifth win in the race.
The trainer said on Saturday: "Flag Of Honour has done very well since we stepped him up in trip and won nicely last time when he made the running.
"He won't mind getting a lead and does handle ease in the ground. We're happy with him."
He added: "Idaho has lots of experience and is coming back in distance after running third in the Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup. He's in good form and should run his usual solid race."
Cypress Creek, the complete outsider of the field, completes the O'Brien trio.
One statistic against Flag Of Honour and Cypress Creek, and Joseph O'Brien's runner Latrobe, is that only two three-year-olds – Vinnie Roe, when he achieved the first of his four consecutive wins in the race in 2001, and Order Of St George in 2015 – have won the Irish St Leger since the turn of the millennium.
Latrobe bids for rare double
Latrobe, the Irish Derby winner, will be attempting to become the first horse since Zarathustra in 1954 to complete the Irish Derby-Irish St Leger double.
Trainer Joseph O'Brien believes that the step up in distance should suit his colt, who was dropped in trip in the Juddmonte International last month when he made little impact.
O'Brien said: "Latrobe is very well. We can't be sure but we think going up in trip will suit him.
"He's shown he likes the Curragh, having won his maiden there before winning the Derby, and we should have lovely ground."
Gosden and Dettori back again
Weekender, the Ebor runner-up, will be attempting to give John Gosden a third win in the race, which he landed with Mashaallah in 1992 and Duncan in 2011.
Frankie Dettori, who rides the Khalid Abdullah-owned four-year-old, will also be bidding for a third Irish St Leger success, having scored on Kayf Tara in 1999 and Wicklow Brave in 2016.
Gosden said: "Weekender ran a great race under top weight in the Ebor last time and has been in good form since. We wouldn't want too much rain as he likes fast ground."
Payment goes for Godolphin
Godolphin's famous blue colours were carried to success in the race in 1998 and 1999, and Twilight Payment – beaten a neck by Flag Of Honour in the Irish St Leger Trial last month – is their representative this time.
The Jim Bolger-trained five-year-old finished sixth in the race a year ago on his only previous attempt at Group 1 level.
Jimmy Hyland of Godolphin said: “Twilight Payment ran very well to finish second in the trial for this race. That was probably his best run to date and, if he can step up on that, it'll hopefully put him in the shake-up.”
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