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Ground continues to dry with round course now good to soft

Frankie Dettori, who rides Coronet in the St Leger, with racing legend Lester Piggott at Doncaster on Wednesday
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Clerk of the course Roderick Duncan says Doncaster has narrowly missed out on the worst of the rain in the area as he tightened the going description further still a little over 24 hours before the William Hill St Leger.

After being soft, good to soft in places on the round course on Thursday, the track dried out further still and on Friday morning Duncan was calling it good to soft all over on the round course and good to soft, good in places on the straight.

The course had been heavy in places earlier in the week, with many anticipating a gruelling test in the St Leger but with little appreciable rain now in the forecast, there is every possibility the word good will feature in Saturday morning's description.

"We had a splash of rain this morning but nothing to measure," said Duncan at 11.30am on Friday. "We have a moderate sort of breeze and I've walked the track without getting my feet wet.

"We've just been missing the rain by a mile and a half or so every time. There is a distinct possibility of rain in the early hours and then a slightly more remote possibility of showers during racing."

The prospect of softer conditions was thought to have been a factor in Frankie Dettori's decision to ride the John Gosden-trained Coronet instead of her stablemate Stradivarius in the final Classic of the year.

Coronet has been ridden by Olivier Peslier on her last three starts, but Dettori will take the reins on the daughter of Dubawi for the first time since finishing third in the Prix Saint-Alary at Deauville in May.

Coronet (right): Ribblesdale winner no bigger than 13-2 for the Doncaster Classic on Saturday

Coronet, who is now a general 6-1 chance, but remains as short as 5-1 with Coral, will bid to emulate Simple Verse, the last filly to triumph in the £700,000 contest in 2015, while Stradivarius is a general 8-1 chance.

William Hill cut Crystal Ocean to a clear 7-2 favourite (from 4) on Thursday, with Capri second favourite at 4-1.

Rupert Adams, spokesman for William Hill, said: “Since Frankie made the decision to ride Coronet we’ve seen a ton of support for her. Everyone loves Frankie and Frankie loves a big winner.

"We've also seen support for Crystal Ocean, who is now the clear 7-2 favourite from Capri. The ground has been drying out and if the rain misses the course then he has a big chance."

Ryan Moore will partner Capri, while Jim Crowley has been confirmed for the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Crystal Ocean.

Aidan O'Brien, last successful in the race with Leading Light in 2013, also runs Douglas Macarthur, the mount of Emmet McNamara, as well as The Anvil (Michael Hussey) and Venice Beach (Seamie Heffernan).

It may turn out to be a battle of the greys with Capri and Coronet also joined by Defoe, a cosy winner of the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury and available at 9-2 with William Hill.

Andrea Atzeni believes Roger Varian's progressive colt, who will arrive on the back of four wins this campaign, has a "big chance" in the Qipco British Champions Series event.

Atzeni said: "He needs to improve because he's going to a different level but I'm very happy and think he's going there with a big chance.

"The rain that's arrived has helped his chances because, while he's won on good ground, he's better on softer going. He has a great mind and is very straightforward."

Brian Meehan has booked Adam Kirby for general 12-1 shot Raheen House, winner of the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket in July, with regular jockey Jamie Spencer riding Deauville in the Woodbine Mile on Saturday evening.

Meehan said: "I'm very disappointed that Jamie won't be riding Raheen House as he's been claimed to ride in Canada for Aidan O'Brien.

"It's frustrating but we've been very lucky to get Adam. He's riding with such confidence at the moment and he'll suit the horse's style. 

"He did his last bit of work this morning and I was particularly pleased."

Count Octave, who will be ridden by Oisin Murphy, and Rekindling for brothers Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien complete the line-up.

Roderick Duncan, clerk of the course, said on Thursday evening: "The course has continued to dry today. The forecast is for a chance of a light shower in the morning so we'll have to see what that brings. I'm content with the going description as it is having watched the racing and looked at the times."

If you are interested in this, you might also like . . .

Confidence grows in Capri for St Leger

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Topspeed – Stradivarius can make stamina count in the St Leger


Since Frankie made the decision to ride Coronet we've seen a ton of support for her