Kew Gardens in full bloom to deny Lah Ti Dar and give O'Brien another St Leger
In a flash they were gone – first Kew Gardens from his rivals in the William Hill St Leger and then his trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore.
O’Brien and Moore had no time to reflect on Kew Gardens’ authoritative victory in the final Classic of the British season, instead dashing for their helicopter to Leopardstown for the first day of Irish Champions Weekend as if they were catching the last chopper out of Saigon.
It was a sixth success in the race for O’Brien, whose Ballydoyle juggernaut is picking up pace approaching the end of the season after an in-and-out year due to a virus.
"We’re over the moon with him," said O’Brien as he cantered across the straight where Kew Gardens had stamped his class over his 11 rivals just moments before.
Aidan O'Brien's St Leger winners
|2003||Brian Boru||Jamie Spencer||5-4f|
|2013||Leading Light||Joseph O'Brien||7-2f|
|2018||Kew Gardens||Ryan Moore||3-1|
"We always thought he was a horse who would stay well and we were delighted with what he did in France [winning the Grand Prix de Paris] and at York [finishing third in the Great Voltigeur].
"We always felt he had a lot of class and this extra distance was going to be what he wanted.”
With stamina clearly Kew Gardens’ forte, a strong pace was set by his stablemates, with Moore content to take a midfield position, tracked all the time by favourite Lah Ti Dar and Frankie Dettori, who had steered the filly’s brother Too Darn Hot to an exciting success in the Champagne Stakes in the previous race.
Swinging into the straight with a long, relentless half a mile to go, Kew Gardens seemed to grow into himself and moved through to chase down the leaders with style. Lah Ti Dar, on just her fourth start, was a little more uncertain and required more guidance from the saddle. It proved to be a key moment.
Kew Gardens went from being a length in front of Lah Ti Dar with four furlongs remaining to being closer to three lengths ahead with two furlongs to go. With stamina assured, Kew Gardens kept on powerfully to win by two and a quarter lengths, with Southern France, also trained by O’Brien, four and a half lengths behind Lah Ti Dar in third.
Moore said: "He travelled well and got there really easy. He’s a very uncomplicated, easy horse and he did it very impressively. He tries very hard and has a great attitude to life. He picked up really well and beat a good field."
Kew Gardens was cut by bookmakers for next month’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, his odds now ranging from 12-1 to 25-1 (from 33 generally), a race in which last year’s St Leger winner, his stablemate Capri, finished a disappointing 17th of 18 behind Enable.
Owner Derrick Smith, who was left to pick up the trophy with his son Paul, owner of 2014 St Leger winner Kingston Hill, said the Coolmore team had long thought Kew Gardens was a colt destined to perform to his best at Doncaster.
"He’s looked a Leger horse for a long time but he’s always had plenty of pace," Smith said. "I’m not sure what he’ll do next so we’ll see what Aidan is thinking and sort it out.
"He’s probably going to be better on better ground but the contest suited him today. The way he made up the ground was impressive and then it was over in a flash."
While those closest to Kew Gardens may have not been hanging around on Town Moor, the impression the colt left in winning the Classic will remain for a long time.
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com