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Monday, 30 June 2014

Ledger going Down Under?

It is such a shame that Australia placed third in the 2000 Guineas back in early May, had it won, we would have quite likely been looking at the first horse to complete the Triple Crown since the Lester Piggott ridden Nijnsky won the Guineas, Derby and St Ledger in 1970.

Although Australia may not be on for the Triple Crown he is still the favourite for the final of the three races, the St Ledger in September.

So will Australia make it two out of three or is his season going to come to a somewhat underwhelming conclusion?

Well the bookmakers see the St Ledger’s as Australia’s to lose. With bet365 he is already way out in front in the ante-post betting and when it comes to racing, the bookies aren’t often wrong.

And then you see the endorsements that the horse has got and they alone make him look unbeatable. Jockey, Joseph O’Brien, who has ridden the horse for the entirety of its career, had this to say: “horses don't come any easier to ride than this one. He's the best."

When you consider O’Brien just missed out on the triple crown with Camelot, pictured, back in 2012, and won the Gold Cup at Ascot this year with Leading Light, it is an incredible statement to make and one that gives credence to the fact that Australia could just be the be best horse of its generation.

Speaking of O’Brien, he is one of the best jockeys to be in the saddle. As witnessed with the Derby win, he is nice and content sitting at the back of the pack conserving energy levels before making a push when it matters. This supreme tactic of O’Brien paid dividends with Australia breaking through and surpassing Kingston Hill to claim the title by a length-and-a-half.

The St Ledger is the oldest and the longest of British Classics. It is two furlongs longer than the Derby so you would think that Australia’s superior energy reserves combined with O’Brien’s conservation will again bring success.

If any horse is going to beat Australia it will be Kingston Hill. The offspring of 2000 Irish Guineas winner, Mastercraftsman, was ranked as the second best European two-year-old of 2013, two pounds behind Toormore, and as we witnessed at Epsom it has some talent. Could one look at the jockey, the relatively unknown Andrea Atzeni, and think that is a fault? You’d feel with a Frankie Dettori or Keiron Fallen mounted it could have the right ingredients to beat Australia but Atzeni has proved to be no slouch thus far.

The Ledger itself is hugely unpredictable, O’Brien of all people can tell you that, after Camelot’s failure in 2012. But, as things look, at the minute it seems ever more likely that Australia will make it two out of three.

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