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Yeats faces tough task to add to Group 1 collection.

Byline: Tony O'Hehir

LAST weekend was all about one horse, Sea The Stars, officially the best in the world, strutting his stuff at Leopardstown and making it five from five in Group 1 races in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes with his most impressive performance to date and one that raised the possibility of even better to come at Longchamp or wherever he next appears.

Tomorrow at the Curragh another genuine Irish-trained star of the turf, five years older than John Oxx's superstar but a history maker in his own right, will be the centre of attraction when Yeats bids for a second Irish Field St Leger victory and an eighth Group 1 success on what could be his final appearance on an Irish racecourse.

Yeats won the Curragh event two years ago having finished second to Kastoria in the 2006 running and if the four-time Ascot Gold Cup winner is to add another major win to his tally he will have to overcome some strong rivals including Alandi, representing the Kastoria team of John Oxx, the Aga Khan and Mick Kinane, Schiaparelli and Profound Beauty.

What Alandi has going for him more than anything else is a marked liking for easy ground, something he is guaranteed tomorrow regardless of how much conditions improve at the Curragh over the next 24 hours.

That he beat a clearly below par Yeats out of sight at Navan early this season probably matters little in the context of tomorrow's race, but while Yeats has won on slow ground, the Ballydoyle warrior is most effective on better ground.

Unbeaten in three attempts this year, Profound Beauty has the Melbourne Cup as her end-of-season target and, like Vintage Crop did 16 years ago, an Irish St Leger win could be collected on the way.

Dermot Weld's mare handles easy ground but would not want conditions too testing. Tomorrow will be her biggest test of the year but she has given the impression that she is both improving and still underrated.

Schiaparelli is interesting and the Godolphin contender, who has four Group 1 wins to his credit, in Germany and Italy, should not be underestimated.

He won the Goodwood Cup and the Prix Kergorlay very easily on his last two starts and has a serious chance of giving Olivier Peslier a fifth Irish Classic win to add to his three Irish 2,000 Guineas victories and a success in the Irish Derby.

Yeats sets the standard, but the ground is a concern and the fact that Mick Kinane has elected to ride Alandi rather than go to Doncaster to partner Mourayan in the Ladbrokes St Leger, plus Alandi's liking for testing conditions would suggest that the Oxx-trained four year old is going to be the one they all have to beat.

Alandi won as he liked at Fairyhouse and, while tomorrow's race will present a stiffer test, he appears to be progressing at the right time.

Mourayan won't have his ideal ground at Doncaster as he seems best suited by ease and while he is a tough, genuine type who will appreciate the St Leger trip, our best chance of landing the oldest of the British Classics probably lies with Changingoftheguard who, due to the defection of Age Of Aquarius yesterday, has become Aidan O'Brien's number one hope of landing the race for the fourth time.

Changingoftheguard looked a desperately unlucky loser in the Ebor at York, where the gaps did not arrive until too late after he missed the break. He is an improving colt and, in the belief that there will be more to come from him tomorrow, he can deliver and justify Johnny Murtagh's decision to stick to plan and ride at Doncaster rather than at the Curragh.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2009
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