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Leading Light’s Arc chances must be respected for master handler

| 16.09.2013

Leading Light romped away with the last Classic of the year at Doncaster thus providing the irrepressible Aidan O’Brien with his fourth St Leger victory and justifying the support which maintained his position as the race’s market leader.

For many horses winning the oldest classic of them all usually means an immediate holiday.

But the toast of Town Moor now has potentially an even bigger prize put in his sights.

Owner John Magnier said that as early as the morning of the St Leger that A P O’Brien was discussing the viability of Leading Light going for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, revealing that any decision taken by the Ballydoyle maestro regarding the Longchamp showpiece would not have merely been a reflex reaction to today’s result.

And after the race O’Brien was not dodging the possibility, citing the horse’s versatility and assuring journalists that a drop back to a mile and a half would be no problem.

The size of the task in question cannot be underestimated as if the son of Montjeu was to make the trip to Paris in October he would attempt to become the first horse in history to conquer both the St Leger and Arc.

His trainer is no stranger to the contest having captured the prize back in 2007 with Dylan Thomas, however, his record in the race does not stand up well when compared to the other most sought after prizes in the sport. The nature of the operation at Ballydoyle can be reasonably held responsible for some of this underachievement as the majority of the key runners are primed for mid-season targets rather than those at the backend of the campaign.

However, this general strategy does not apply to Joseph O’Brien’s mount who has been prepared with the later assignments in mind. The key question is whether the horse’s sagacious saddler has trained the horse with the Arc in the back of his mind. If not, the performance required to overcome the Autumn test will be beyond him, but Magnier’s comments strongly suggest that the master handler was making educated speculation rather than pure conjecture when conversations about an across-the-channel raid were taking place.

As a result, the 12/1 on offer about the final Classic winner of the season has to be considered if not invested in.

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Sam Foster