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Can Blue Bunting eclipse the Moon?

8 Sep 2011

Sea Moon is the hot favourite for Saturday's Ladbrokes St Leger, the last Classic of the season, but Blue Bunting has already won two Classics and will ensure that Sea Moon has to live up to his tall reputation if he is to win.

Frankie’s flying dismount from Blue Bunting after the QIPCO 1000 Guineas in May – can the partnership seal a third Series victory on Saturday?  Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Sea Moon has been a short-priced favourite for the Ladbrokes St Leger, the last Classic of the season and the penultimate race in the QIPCO British Champions Series Long Distance category, ever since his impressive, eight length victory in last month’s Great Voltigeur Stakes at York.

That race is always a strong Leger trial and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt could scarcely have won more easily.

Some take the view that he is unbeatable in Saturday’s race, but others feel that he may have been flattered by that performance, with several of his main rivals seeming to run below par.

One thing is for sure – if he is to justify the hype that has existed since that York contest and capture yet another big prize for his owner, Prince Khalid Abdulla, he will need to put up a top class performance to beat the tough, high class filly, Blue Bunting.

She came with an unstoppable late run to claim the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, the first race in the Fillies & Mares category, having looked outpaced for most of that mile contest.

After failing to handle the slow pace and undulating track at Epsom in the Vodafone Oaks over a mile-and-a-half on her next start, she was then a narrow winner of the Darley Irish Oaks before following up with a game defeat of Vita Nova in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, the sixth Fillies & Mares race.

Now stepping up in trip to an extended mile-and-three-quarters and with Rumh to ensure a good, even pace, she must have a fantastic chance of enhancing the fine Series records of her trainer, Mahmood Al Zarooni, and jockey, Frankie Dettori.

Other strong contenders are the Richard Hannon-trained Census, who won well at Newbury last time, the Michael Owen-owned and Tom Dascombe-trained Brown Panther, who was the runner-up at Newbury, and the John Gosden-trained Masked Marvel, who narrowly beat Census at Newmarket in July.

Sea Moon and Masked Marvel are both entered for the final race in the division, the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 15 October, while Blue Bunting is entered in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes on the same day.

Get along to Doncaster on Saturday if you possibly can – Ladbrokes St Leger Day is always a fantastic occasion – but otherwise make sure you catch the big race live on Channel 4 at 3.10pm.

For the full race page and field, CLICK HERE.