william buick hopes rising star Emotionless can confirm his class at Doncaster today and provide the jockey with some compensation for losing the ride on Ladbrokes St Leger favourite Bondi Beach.
Buick, who is retained by Godolphin, had to seek permission from Sheikh Mohammed to ride the Great Voltiguer runner-up in today’s big race because the Aidan O’Brien-trained runner is owned by Coolmore – major rivals to the ruler of Dubai’s bloodstock empire.
However, when O’Brien opted to withdraw Order of St George in favour of tomorrow’s Irish St Leger, it saw that horse’s intended jockey Colm O’Donoghue switch to Bondi Beach at the expense of the in-form Buick.
Such shenanigans over riding arrangements, one reason why there was so much speculation over O’Brien’s long-term future at Ballydoyle, have done the St Leger – and the race’s loyal sponsors – few favours when the meeting has already been hit by the fixture clash with Ireland’s new champion weekends.
This was compounded by Leopardstown’s decision to bring forward the start of the Irish Champion Stakes, won so dramatically 12 months ago by Yorkshire horse of the year The Grey Gatsby, by 65 minutes so top-class horses like the reigning champion, Epsom Derby hero Golden Horn and O’Brien’s dual Guineas winner Gleneagles could race on fresh ground.
Yet, with rain falling at Leopardstown last night, the participation of all three horses is likely to remain in the balance until closer to the new off time of 5.45pm – connections of all three will only run their stable stars if the ground is good or quicker.
As for Buick, who was seeking a third St Leger following wins on Arctic Cosmos (20100 and Masked Marvel (2011), he hopes 2016 Epsom Derby entry Emotionless – a son of top sire Shamardal – can confirm his potential in the Group Two At The Races Champion Stakes.
“He’s coming from a maiden at Newmarket, which he won, to a competitive Group Two, but we think quite a lot of him,” Buick told The Yorkshire Post. “Whatever he does, he will be better next time and next year. This is just a stepping stone for the horse.”
Trainer Charlie Appleby concured: “He has come on massively for his first run and has progressed both physically and mentally. Like a lot of mine, we expect him to progress from that first run,” he said.
Mark Johnston’s Beaverbrook, the Kevin Ryan-trained Mohab and Kentuckyconnection from Bryan Smart’s stable all represent Yorkshire.
Yesterday’s Doncaster Cup saw the quirky Pallasator win for the ever popular trainer Sir Mark Prescott and Andrea Atzeni who rides Simple Verse in the St Leger.
“We know what he is like – he can be a bit quirky before the race but, once the stalls open, he is very professional,” said Atzeni who won the 2014 St Leger on Kingston Hill. “It’s great for Sir Mark, the team and Rosie (Jessop), who rides him every day – I don’t know how she does it, I wouldn’t turn up at work if I knew I had him first lot!”
However the most popular win of the week, other than AP McCoy’s Leger Legends charity race success on Wednesday, was Hoof It’s success in yesterday’s The Coopers Marquees Handicap.
Owned by golfer Lee Westwood and his agent Chubby Chandler, this was the horse’s first success since shouldering top weight to win the 2011 Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood and veteran Sheriff Hutton trainer Mick Easterby could not contain his delight.
Now eight, this is a horse beaten a nose and a head by Dream Ahead, and the aforementioned Buick, in Haydock’s Group One Sprint Cup four years ago before losing its way. “He’s only just come right now – I had a few quid each way on him today,” said the irrepressible Easterby.
“He’ll head to Ayr now for one of the big sprints. He won’t get in the Ayr Gold Cup but hopefully he’ll get in the Silver Cup. It’s lovely to see him win.
“You can’t explain to anyone what happens when they go wrong – they can go wrong for six months, a year. He’s just turned the corner recently. I worked him last week and he just took off up the gallop and I thought ‘that’s it’.”