Hurricane Lane blows Classic rivals away with stunning St Leger display
It is not only Emma Raducanu who makes winning at the top level look much easier than it should do. A six-length winner of the Grand Prix de Paris in July, Hurricane Lane smashed away his rivals once again in a style rarely seen in a Classic.
The only headache for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin founder Sheikh Mohammed is whether to let him join Derby hero Adayar in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp next month.
The trainer will also have to get the ringing out of his ears after the huge roar that burst from more than 20,000 Yorkshire throats as the gates crashed open for the first St Leger run in front of a crowd, sponsored by Cazoo, since 2019.
Those who backed the 8-11 favourite had plenty to shout about throughout the mile-and-three-quarter journey as William Buick had Hurricane Lane handy in mid-division from the off and his mount was perfectly placed and full of running levelling up for home.
The winner hit the front a quarter of a mile out and scored by a comfortable two and three-quarter lengths from Derby runner-up Mojo Star, who beat him into third at Epsom but had finished only fifth behind him in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.
"It's unusual in these Group 1s and Classics to be able to enjoy watching a race," Appleby said afterwards. "But it was one of those races when I was always comfortable with the way William had him positioned and how the horse travelled.
"As William said, when he turned in he had everything there in front of him and all the room he needed. It was only a matter of time to ask him to click through the gears. For a horse who stays a mile and six he's got a gear change and that's what makes him stand out from the rest at the moment."
Appleby, who was quick to share credit with the team at his yard in Newmarket, added: "What I love about Hurricane Lane is in the paddock he walks around like an old boxer, as cool as you like. He knows when it's time to bring his A-game on. He's very much like that in the mornings."
Buick, winning his third Leger, said: "It was a lovely performance and he's a jockey's dream. You can put him anywhere in the race and he relaxes, which is obviously vital over this distance. What's impressed me the last couple of times he's run, is the way he quickens at the end. He really did put the race to bed there."
Appleby was winning his first Leger, the 1m6f trip of which makes it rather less than the height of fashion and not always the first choice of target for a top middle-distance colt.
But the trainer stressed: "It's a Classic. Some people would have swayed coming to the St Leger but you can't beat tradition and history and this is steeped in it."
Buick added: "It's fantastic to win another St Leger. These horses need to be cherished when they are around. Charlie and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed were adamant this horse went to the Leger after he won the Grand Prix de Paris and it paid off today. A lot of people work very hard behind the scenes and I'm very privileged to ride these great horses."
No Leger winner has followed up in the Arc, not even the legendary Nijinsky, but that would not deter Appleby from having a crack.
"We mooted after the Grand Prix de Paris that potentially we might look towards an Arc," the trainer said. "We know it's never been done but that doesn't mean it can't be done, that's what I'm a big believer in. We'll let the dust settle and see how he comes out of it then start to formulate plans.
"Adayar missed a couple of gallops and missed this weekend but he's back on song and looked great this morning. As it stands at the moment Adayar is the main Arc contender and I'd say we could just be looking towards Hurricane Lane joining him as well. Those are nice conversations to have!"
Buick would not be drawn on which colt he would choose to ride were both to run in the Arc and Appleby would not speculate on who might come out on top.
"It would be a nice race to watch!" the trainer said. "How can you choose between two horses with the profile they've got? It would be good if you could turn up with one of them in Paris, two would be fantastic."
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