WILLIAM BUICK believes a long lay-off will help Romsdal as the jockey attempts to win his third Ladbrokes St Leger in five renewals.
Even though Romsdal was third to Australia and Kingston Hill, today’s big race favourite, in the Epsom Derby, the jockey is hopeful that he can carry Princess Haya of Jordan’s green colours to victory.
“He’s got one of the best bits of Classic form having finished third in the Derby and I’m inclined to put a line through his disappointing run last time in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes when Richard Hughes eased him heavily once his chance had gone,” said Buick.
“I have to respect Kingston Hill if he turns up because we’ve got a couple of lengths to find on the Derby form, but if the ground is a concern for him, I don’t think it’s a major issue for Romsdal.
“As for Snow Sky, I respect him based on his win in the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, but he was put in his place by Postponed in the Great Voltigeur and I’m optimistic that Romsdal has a better finishing kick. I know one thing, he’s coming right at the right time, has been freshened up for the race and couldn’t be in better order.”
The jockey’s two victories in the St Leger came in his first two rides in it – on Arctic Cosmos in 2010 and Masked Marvel 12 months later.
Both were trained by his boss John Gosden who is triple-handed today as he seeks a fifth victory in the race.
As well as Romsdal, Gosden also saddles Frankie Dettori’s mount Forever Now and Marzocco, who will be ridden by the under-rated Rab Havlin – a stalwart of the Clarehaven stable.
Has Buick chosen the right horse? “The Leger is a race with good depth,” said Gosden.
“I am very pleased with Forever Now who won at Goodwood and has matured fast – he is still a big frame of a horse but he will stay the trip well. We will drop him out and he will stay well.
“The thing about the Leger is the last furlong and a half – one furlong and 132 yards. Romsdal ran great in the Derby but disappointed in the King George.
“But he seemed in good form at the weekend and we have given him plenty of time to come to his strength.
“He will stay on his dam’s side. Marzocco may find the trip a bit sharp, but apart from that will run well.”
It would, however, be slightly ironic if Scotland denied Romsdal in the closing stages.
The horse is trained by Andrew Balding who mentored Buick during his formative years before the rider became Gosden’s stable jockey at the beginning of 2010.
Third in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot to the Buick-ridden and Gosden-trained Eagle Top, Balding – brother of Channel Four Racing presenter Clare – is hopeful. “We have had the race in mind for some time. The extra two furlongs will be a great help,” he said.
Up to 30,000 people are expected at Doncaster today for the St Leger, though managing director Mark Spincer says there will be some tickets still available on the gate.