favourite Kingston Hill’s participation in tomorrow’s Ladbrokes St Leger hangs in the balance after drying conditions changed the complexion of the going at Doncaster.
No decision will be made until tomorrow when trainer Roger Varian walks the track after warning last night that the Epsom Derby second will be a non-runner in the world’s oldest Classic unless the Doncaster track is watered.
Varian has already pulled his stable star – winner of last October’s Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster – out of the Irish Derby and, more recently, the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York because of unsuitably fast conditions.
“If they don’t water they are risking the non-participation of the favourite in the Classic. I’ll be here on Saturday and nothing’s changed. If I’m happy with the ground conditions, I’ll run and if I’m not, I won’t,” he said after racing yesterday.
Clerk of the course Roderick Duncan was unmoved by Varian’s comments after confirming that conditions remain good to soft, good in places, on the St Leger course following 14mm of rain last Saturday.
“There are currently no plans to water the course,” he said.
“I’ll rule nothing out, but I’m not planning to at the moment.
“There are 14 runners in the St Leger. I would love to see Roger Varian win the race; he won the Racing Post Trophy and I believe if Kingston Hill runs he will win.
“I want to see the favourite run, but I don’t want to see a load of other people not running because I’ve watered.
“There’s not just one race on. There’s a lot of horses running and if I adopt a policy that nobody else wants in favour of one horse, it’s an impossible position. I’m not being leaned on or being put under any pressure to water.”
As for riding arrangements, James Doyle has opted – as expected – to ride Sir Michael Stoute’s Snow Sky with Ryan Moore aboard Kings Fete.
Middleham’s Mark Johnston saddles Alex My Boy, Eclipse third Somewhat and Royal Ascot hero Hartnell, the pick of stable jockey Joe Fanning.
Last year’s winning trainer Aidan O’Brien relies solely upon Granddukeoftuscany.