|Wednesday 6th August 2014|
Controversial Encke aimed at Irish St Leger
Encke, one of the horses at the very centre of last year’s controversy regarding disgraced Godolphin trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni, is reported to be in fine form and on target for the Group 1 Irish St Leger at the Curragh after making a very pleasing return to action recently at Glorious Goodwood.
What that performance told us is that Encke retains plenty of his old ability having been banned from racing during 2013. He was found to be one of a dizzying number of al-Zarooni-trained horses that tested positive for stanozolol, an illegal substance that the controversial and somewhat hurried BHA enquiry accepted had been administered by the trainer.
Charlie Appleby stepped in to replace al-Zarooni after the Dubaian was warned off racing and banned from holding a license, and Appleby reports Encke to have come out of his comeback race in terrific shape. He is now an intended starter for the Palmerston House Estate Irish St Leger on September 14, the galloping Curragh track expected to ideally suit the winner of three of his seven career starts.
Encke was always a talented performer but had appeared to have it all to do to win the 2012 St Leger, for which he started an unconsidered 25/1 shot with the likes of BetBright. Given a fine ride by William Buick, he stole a march on Aidan O’Brien’s high-class Camelot two furlongs from home – the winner of both the Qipco 2000 Guineas and the Investec Derby at Epsom bidding to become the first horse since the mighty Nijinsky in 1970 to land the British colts’ Triple Crown – and try as jockey Joseph O’Brien might, he couldn’t bridge the gap to Encke inside the final furlong, eventually finishing second, beaten three-quarters-of-a-length.
Running clean and seemingly still a talented performer, connections will be hoping that Encke can make up for lost time and prove to any doubters just what a talented horse he really is when given a chance to show exactly what he can do.