Godolphin set sights on St Leger glory.
By Leslie Wilson Jr
Racing & Special Features Writer
Dubai Godolphin are leaving nothing to chance in a bid to capture the final Classic of the England flat racing season, the Ladbrokes St Leger (Group 1) at Doncaster on Saturday.
The Dubai-owned stable, who have won the prestigious race five times in the past and most recently with Mastery 12 months ago, have taken the unusual route of employing a pacemaker from another stable to strengthen the chances of 13/8 favourite Rewilding.
Godolphin have secured the services of the Mark Johnston-trained Corsica for this crucial role, but not prior to getting official clearance from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).
Corsica is owned by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. While Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford pointed out that he will 'run on his own merits', Corsica's primary role will be to ensure the perfect pace for Rewilding in a race which can prove to be a tactical battle given its extended distance of a mile and six furlongs.
The St Leger is the world's oldest Classic and is the highlight of the final day of the four-day St. Leger festival at Doncaster.
Speaking at Monday's traditional St Leger lunch at the Landmark Hotel in London, Crisford revealed Godolphin's plans for Rewilding's bid for big-race glory.
"Rewilding has done very well since winning at York -- Mahmoud [Al Zarouni, his trainer] has been extremely happy with Rewilding -- he is a very straightforward colt and does not carry a lot of condition," he said. "He has got a fantastic profile -- he was third in the Derby [Epsom] and then he won the Great Voltigeur like a really classy colt.
All about class
"To win the Ladbokes St Leger is all about class in my view. We have been lucky enough to win this Classic with five horses but you have to be good and he has the class."
Godolphin's previous successes in the St. Leger came with Classic Cliche (1995), Nedawi (1998), Mutafaweq (1999), Rule of Law (2004) and Mastery (2009).
Crisford also disclosed in the Daily Telegraph that he had contacted the BHA inquiring whether a change of ownership would be required prior to Corsica being given a function role in the race. However, he was reassured that it would be legitimate to use him in that role.
Rewilding heads a list of 12 runners declared for the St Leger though the heavy rain forecast for the week has threatened to put a spanner in the works for some of the hopefuls including dual Oaks winner Snow Fairy, the 7/1 second favourite, and Sir Michael Stoute's Royal Ascot third Total Command
Trained Ed Dunlop said of Snow Fairy: "It depends on the weather. If it's not too bad, she'll definitely run.
"I've never had a runner in the St Leger and I would love to. Godolphin's horse will be tough to beat. I hope she [Snow Fairy] runs well but if she doesn't stay, she won't be bullied and have a hard race.
Commenting on Total Command, who was third in the Queen's Vase and ninth of ten behind Rewilding in the Great Voligeur Stakes, Stoute said: "We will check on the ground on Thursday morning and make a decision then."
Top Irish handler Aidan O'Brien has four in the race, with Midas Touch, Joshua Tree and Bright Horizon most like to start.
Under the spotlight
Frankie Dettori on Rewilding. The colt, who came third in the Derby (Epsom) and won the Great Voltigeur, is looking to add the Ladbrokes St Leger (Group 1) title to Godolphin's kitty at Doncaster on Saturday. The St Leger is the world's oldest Classic and is the highlight of the final day of the four-day St Leger festival at Doncaster.
Gulf News archive
what is a pacemaker?
A pacemaker (sometimes colloquially called a rabbit) is a horse who leads a race to ensure a fast suitable pace for his stable companion, often the race favourite, and to avoid excessive tactical racing. Pacemakers are frequently employed in athletics, particularly in long-dstance races and date back to the Fifties. Roger Bannister successfully used two pacemakers to break the four-minute mile for the first time in 1954.
Godolphin are not averse to using pacemakers to boost their chances of winning in major thoroughbred races. In 2001 Summoner was employed to set the pace for his stable-companion Noverre in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes but he went on to win the race. In another instance Give The Slip, who was acting as pacemaker for Fantastic Light very nearly won the Melbourne Cup in 2001 before he was beaten by Ethereal.
St. Leger (Group 1) at Doncaster, England, Saturday, September 11
Rewilding 13/8, Dandino 7, Midas Touch 7, Snow Fairy 7, Artic Cosmos 8, Joshua Tree 8, Ted Spread 16, Flying Corss 33, Theology 33, Total Command 33, Corsica 66, Bright Horizon 200.
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