Five oppose Order Of St George
The view from connections as Order Of St George bids for a repeat win in Sunday's Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger.
Order Of St George will face five opponents in the Irish Leger
Order Of St George and Trip To Paris, the last two winners of the Ascot Gold Cup, face off in the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger at the Curragh on Sunday.A comeback victory in the Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown was followed by a clear-cut verdict in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and he made a successful return from a break in the Irish St Leger Trial over this course and distance three weeks ago.
Bookmakers see it as a one-way contest as Order Of St George is the shortest-priced favourite of any runner over Irish Champions Weekend.
He is the highest-rated stayer in Europe and demolished his rivals by 11 lengths in this contest last year.
Aidan O'Brien's charge arrives on a six-race winning streak and could even be aimed at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe afterwards.
"He's matured great and we've been very happy with him this year," said O'Brien.
"We were delighted with his start-back run the other day and Seamus (Heffernan) is very happy with him in his work. Everything has gone well so far and we're looking forward to the Leger.
"He was a big, angular two-year-old, he was a bit more furnished last year and he's properly furnished this year.
"He's starting to relax, he's a horse with a lot of nervous energy, but he's enjoying it, we think. He handles soft ground very well, but goes on fast ground as well. He's an unusual type of horse, really."
Things have not been smooth for Ed Dunlop's Trip To Paris since his Ascot win.
He covered himself in glory in Australia, finishing second in the Caulfield Cup and fourth in the Melbourne Cup, but then picked up an injury in Japan.
The globetrotter did not reappear until July but ran a sound race over an inadequate 10 furlongs.
He subsequently finished fourth in the Lonsdale Cup at York and connections opted to bypass the Doncaster Cup in favour of this race, which is over half a mile less but worth considerably more.
"A lot of thought went into swerving Doncaster for this and we're putting a pair of blinkers back on him," said Dunlop.
"I just felt he ran a little lazily in the Lonsdale, but he's been working very well of late.
"We're under no illusions, Order Of St George is a fantastic horse and it will be a tough task, but he's going there in good form.
"I know we've won an Ascot Gold Cup but ours is not a slow horse, he won a maiden over seven furlongs and progressed through handicaps over middle distances.
"York was a strange race. George Baker was brilliant in front on Quest For More and when we got a little detached he seemed to lose interest, hence the blinkers.
"If we'd run at Doncaster over two and a quarter miles we wouldn't have used them, but he's been second in a Caulfield Cup and we hope to use our turn of foot.
"Of course, the favourite has the aid of pacemakers and they'll probably try to make it a real stamina test, but we'll give it a shot.
"I think this trip is his best – don't forget he ran really well over 10 furlongs on his comeback – and with the blinkers, they just sharpen him that little bit more.
"We found out Pat Smullen would be available on Wednesday and we are delighted to have him, there's nobody better at the Curragh."
Willie Mullins runs the dual-purpose Wicklow Brave, Silwana represents Takashi Kodama while O'Brien also runs Unicorn and Kellstorm.
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