leading light racing

Vintage Crop Stakes 2014 – Navan Runners & Odds

Sunday’s Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes over 1m6f has proven a Who’s Who of the Irish Flat staying ranks down the years. David Myers highlights the runners, odds and his best bet.

Both Yeats and Fame And Glory landed this prize before going on to take the Ascot Gold Cup a month later. Bar the aforementioned duo, this race favoured runners in the 4-5yo age bracket over the last 10 years, and one who fits that profile this time around is Aidan O’Brien’s English St Leger winner, Leading Light, who is officially rated the best horse in the race on 118; it’s worth bearing mind that seven of the last eight winners of this race were officially rated 108 or more.

As for Leading Light’s chance on Sunday, then this mighty colt has proven himself at the highest level having secured the St Leger at Doncaster last autumn (1m6f, good to soft), before a below-par flop in the Arc (1m4f, soft).

The Arc was going to play to his strengths, however, but Leading Light has the chance to put that behind him on his seasonal reappearance here where a Group 1 penalty failed to stop Fame And Glory and Yeats here.

O’Brien also has the 5yo, Ernest Hemingway (116), who was a dual Group 3 winner last summer, including over 1m6f, and he should strip fitter than when beaten just over 4l in a Group 2 event in Dubai (2m, good) 50 days ago. He was beaten 11l in the Irish St Leger, and will need to step up based on that come Sunday.

El Salvador (106) also represents Ballydoyle, though having failed to win a Listed race three weeks ago (1m5f, soft) when touched off a nose, this 5yo also needs to progress if figuring.

One who may prove a big danger to Ballydoyle is Johnny Murtagh’s 8yo, Royal Diamond (114), who despite losing twice to Ernest Hemingway last summer, did finish the season with a Group 3 win at Ascot in October (2m, soft). His consistency will attract each-way backers, and he can be relied upon to give his best.

John Oxx trained four winners of this race since 2005, and relies on the 6yo, Saddlers Rock (110), who showed a decent level of form when beaten over 6l into third in last season’s Irish St Leger, but having not won since 2012 – some 13 races ago – he’ll need to find some of his old form to feature on Sunday.

Dermot Weld also knows what it takes to win this race having won it with a 4yo filly 12 months ago, and has another female lined up in the shape of the 5yo, Pale Mimosa (109), who improved to win a Listed race over 1m6f last summer, and was beaten under 2l by Royal Diamond at Ascot when last seen in October. Pale Mimosa is open to more improvement and could be the surprise package.

As for who might can come out on top, then Leading Light cannot be ignored. A winner on his seasonal return last May, he is capable of going well fresh and taking this race prior to a stab at next month’s Ascot Gold Cup.