Tony Calvin on the St Leger: Aidan O'Brien's Il Paradiso 'considerably overpriced' for Doncaster Classic

Il Paradiso (right)
Il Paradiso - pictured winning at Leopardstown - is a lively contender for next month's St Leger, says Tony Calvin
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In this week's antepost column, Tony Calvin takes a close look at the St Leger where he believes one of Aidan O'Brien's stars could go off shorter than half its current Exchange price...

An emphatic trial from Logician

The St Leger has been holding out for a hero all season, and the race finally got one last week, it seems. But it may not be the one you, or the market, believes to be the current top dog.

Logician currently heads the Exchange betting at [3.0] after his hugely impressive one-and-three-quarter length defeat of my long-term fancy Constantinople in the Great Voltigeur, with some classy operators trailing further in his wake.

Irish Derby third Norway was seven lengths further adrift in third, with the Group 1-placed Jalmoud in fourth and Gordon Stakes winner Nayef Road fifth and last.

It was clearly the most emphatic Classic trial we have seen to date - unless we count the Irish Derby winner Sovereign, but he has not been seen since his Curragh demolition job - and you had to be very taken by the way the grey took the massive class-hike in his stride at York on just his fourth start since making his debut in mid-May.

Constantinople backers can take some heart by the manner in which he stuck on and perhaps this full-brother to Bondi Beach will relish the step up to 1m6f+, but there is no doubting that he has a job and a half on in trying to reverse that form should they both get to Doncaster.

Number one target

You have to assume the St Leger is now Logician's number one target, especially as the owner and trainer have a certain Enable primed for the Arc, but he isn't 100% certain to get the trip.

I know he is a half-brother to a 1m7f110yd winner in the States - a rarity in itself - but that sibling was by stamina influence Champs Elysees and Logician's race-winning move came 2f out at York and he wasn't pulling away from the runner-up in the final furlong.

That may be nit-picking, and unjustified nit-picking at that - Frankie Dettori hardly had to get serious with Logician - but it could be that Logician is simply a top-notcher at 1m4f, and won't be seen to best effect at staying trips.

And sometimes people can be too blasé about horses staying an extra 2f or so. It's quite a long way. Well, it is for me, anyway.

Layers seriously underestimating Il Paradiso

There are no such stamina questions to answer for the horse that I was referring to at the start of this piece, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the betting is seriously underestimating the Doncaster claims of Il Paradiso after his third to Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup.

His current price of around 12/1 on the Exchange - and he is also that price in the fixed-odds marketplace, too - makes no sense to me.

I suppose doubt about whether he will even be aimed at the St Leger has an obvious and strong bearing on the layers offering a price which is at least double than should be the case.

Aidan O'Brien 1280.jpg

Aidan O'Brien may have all but ruled out his International winner Japan out of the Classic - he has to remain in the market obviously, but you don't want to be backing him unless there is a massive change of heart - but he also has Constantinople, Anthony Van Dyck, Sovereign, Sir Dragonet and Broome (has the Arc as his main target apparently, after being bought by new Japanese owners) all scrunched up towards the top of the betting.

And they also have lurkers like Mount Everest further down the list.

The waters are further muddied by the fact that the Irish St Leger takes place just a day after Doncaster and all his horses have that option, too.

And you only have to go back to 2015 and Order Of St George's win in the race as a three-year-old (O'Brien also won it with a 3yo with Flag Of Honour last season) to see he can decide to send his "best" candidate to the Curragh instead of Doncaster.

But surely Il Paradiso will go for the Classic after what he did at York last week, for all O'Brien was non-committal about his plans afterwards.

Solid yardsticks

The 3yo went into the Lonsdale Cup rated just 103 after winning a 2m Curragh handicap by 12 lengths off a mark of 89. And he clearly improved the best part of a stone by finishing just over a length third to Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee, as solid yardsticks as you can get, and proper Group 1 yardsticks at that.

So there seemed no fluke about the run whatsoever, and he is now rated 115 by the Irish handicapper, which puts him bang into the mix form-wise alongside Logician.

And that York run was just his second attempt over 2m, having been racing over 1m4f in his first two starts this season, so he is clearly unexposed at staying trips.

Doncaster Races - 1280.jpg

It is encouraging for his backers that O'Brien even name-checked the St Leger as an option after his Curragh handicap win - indeed he even mentioned the race after the colt's maiden win in May - so if the trainer sticks to his initial instincts and goes to Doncaster (pictured), then he is a 6/1 chance, tops, in my book. And probably shorter still, if truth be told.

As I mentioned already, what Ballydoyle run is clearly up in the air, so it may be wise to sit on our hands and see what unfolds on that score, though I did get involved myself in the immediate aftermath of his run last week, when prices of 33/1 and 25/1 were available - not to great sums, but you take what you can get these days - and indeed 16/1 stayed around for a good while after, too.

Logician and Il Paradiso weren't the only ones to put their hands up for the St Leger last week, as Sir Ron Priestley was another to make a smooth transition from the handicap ranks when making all to win the Group 3 March Stakes at Goodwood.

There is a lot to like about his attitude and progression, while it remains to be seen whether Gordon Stakes third Spanish Mission heads to the US or Doncaster, as some of his American runners apparently favour the former option.

I have to stop short of recommending a bet, given the trainer's plethora of candidates and the Irish St Leger option - - and there was also a scratching stage at midday on Tuesday - but there is no doubt in my mind that Il Paradiso is considerably overpriced on talent and potential alone.

There are seven races priced up on the Betfair Sportsbook for the weekend, so crack on there if you want. I'll keep the old powder dry for now. Have a good week, and see you on Friday hopefully.

Tony Calvin,

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