Irish leger: Vinnie Roe attempts to gallop into history.
HISTORY beckons for Vinnie Roe at The
Curragh today when Dermot Weld's high-class stayer attempts to become the first horse to win the Irish St Leger for a third time.
The five-year-old - named after a nephew of his part-owner, film director Jim Sheridan, in whose colours he races - faces only five
rivals in the first Irish Field-sponsored running in 89 years of the Classic.
Yet that quintet includes Bollin Eric, winner of the St Leger at Doncaster last year, and Powerscourt, successful in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last month.
Vintage Crop (1993-94), Oscar Schindler (1996-97), Kayf Tara (1998-99) and Vinnie Roe, for whom success would be in consecutive
runnings, are the dual winners, the race
having been opened to older horses in 1983, and nobody is more aware of the task facing the reigning title-holder than his trainer.
Weld said yesterday: "There are only six
runners but it is a high-class field. Bollin Eric is a top-class stayer and I was impressed with the way Powerscourt won at York last month.
"Had he gone to Doncaster instead of The Curragh he'd have been favourite for the English St Leger.
"With those two in the race it looks the most competitive running Vinnie Roe has faced so far. It will be a tough test for him."
The after-effects of a gruelling effort under top weight on ground like flint in last year's
Melbourne Cup took its toll on Vinnie Roe and he was given plenty of time to recover
from his game fourth in Australia's most famous race.
His reappearance was delayed until last month, when he overcame a moderate pace and some traffic problems to snatch victory in the Listed Ballyroan Stakes over a mile and a half at Leopardstown.
Weld said: "Vinnie Roe took the Leopardstown race well and I've been satisfied with his progress and his work since then. He's in good form. It would be wonderful if he does make history by winning the race again but it's
going to be a tough call for him."
Pat Smullen, Vinnie Roe's regular partner, said yesterday: "It's a small but very select field and he'll need to run up to his best.
"I was delighted with him at Leopardstown. Considering it was his first run of the year and that they went no pace, it was a very good
effort to quicken the way he did to win after finding himself with nowhere to go until the