- Dettori to ride Arrest in final British Classic
- Soft ground led to change as Arrest now favourite
- Desert Hero looks to become first Royal Classic winner since 1977
Frankie Dettori has made a late change in his mount for the upcoming Betfred St Leger at Doncaster. Initially the Italian was set to ride Gregory, the previous ante-post favourite, however, he has now opted for Gregory’s stablemate, Arrest, due to the soft ground conditions.
Dettori, a six-time St Leger victor, had originally committed to Gregory for the final Classic of the season. However, with a substantial 21mm of rainfall at the course on Tuesday, followed by an additional 0.6mm on Thursday morning, Dettori, who is due to retire this year after a distinguished career, made the decisive switch.
Arrest odds shorten
This choice has elevated Arrest to the forefront of the betting market for the world’s oldest Classic, with Unibet pegging him as the 3-1 favourite at the time of writing. Close contenders are Continuous and Gregory, both priced at 7-2, while Desert Hero follows at 5-1.
Joint-trainer John Gosden clarified that Dettori’s switch to Arrest was prompted by the softer ground conditions at Doncaster, particularly towards the back of the course.
Kieran Shoemark, who hasn’t yet competed on Gregory, will now be in the saddle of the Royal Ascot winner. Shoemark was aboard Arrest in a crucial workout in Newmarket on Wednesday morning, while Dettori rode Gregory.
Dettori, 52, has history with Arrest, with six outings, yielding three victories. The first win was in a Sandown maiden, followed by triumphs in the Chester Vase in May and the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury last month. He will be hoping to triumph for the seventh time at the St Leger in his final British Classic.
Arrest’s commanding performance in the Chester Vase was on soft ground, catapulting him into the role of Derby favourite. However, less favourable quick ground conditions were seen as his undoing in that event.
Dettori has also tasted major success with stablemate Gregory, clinching victory in the Group 2 Queen’s Vase on his inaugural ride with the three-year-old son of Golden Horn.
Desert Hero: King and Queen’s horse a contender
Desert Hero, owned by the King and Queen, will bid to provide the first Royal win in a Classic for almost half a century.
The William Haggas trained colt, to be ridden by Tom Marquand for trainer William Haggas, gave King Charles his first Royal Ascot winner in June, will bid for a win just over a year after Queen Elizabeth II died.
She enjoyed the last Royal winner in a Classic when Dunfermline won the St Leger in 1977, her Silver Jubilee year.
Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has four runners – Continuous, Tower Of London, Alexandrouplis and Denmark – as he looks to land a seventh win at the Doncaster Classic. Chesspiece completes the field.
The Leger is the final Classic of the British Flat racing season after the 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, the Derby and the Oaks.
Gregory was the ante-post favourite just ahead of Continuous, and most of the talk was about the confrontation between the two. However, with the going set to be a bit softer and Detorri switching to Arrest, the Chester Vase winner is now favourite with the bookies.