Masked Marvel Storms to Victory in St Leger
1 Masked Marvel 15/2
Masked Marvel ensured that John Gosden and William Buick became the first trainer/jockey partnership to win the Group One Ladbrokes St Leger in consecutive years since Fulke Johnson Houghton and Lester Piggott teamed up with Ribero (1967) and Ribocco (1968).
The Montjeu colt followed Arctic Cosmos’ victory 12 months ago with a record breaking triumph that saw him shave a shade over six hundredths of second off the previous track best with a time of 3m 0.44s, despite running into a strong headwind down the home straight.
Gosden now has four wins in the world’s oldest Classic thanks to previous victories with Shantou (1997) and Lucarno (2007).
Adding lustre to his win, Gosden saddled Duncan to share first place in the Irish St Leger at the Curragh only 45 minutes after Masked Marvel’s triumph.
Gosden commented: “From the day I saw him purchased at Deauville as a yearling, I thought that he was that type (for the St Leger), if he grew and developed. He was a powerful little guy back then but he has got great pedigree for this job and he has done nothing wrong all of his life.
“He won well at Goodwood and was confused by Epsom - some horses are and some aren’t. Then he came back really well at the July meeting and Mr Nielsen allowed me to back off him and give him a nice freshener to come here and we have a lovely horse for the autumn.
“We have other races we could have run in but, to win the oldest Classic with this horse is what we had planned for about two years, so sometimes it works.
“He has got a high cruising speed. I told William to settle where he was comfortable and happy and not to attack too soon. There is a hell of a strong headwind and if you attack too soon - Hughsie said it the other day in an interesting article - the last furlong at Doncaster is a very long one and, when you tack another 132 yards in the end, it is even longer.
“He is a proper horse and he has been working quite beautifully, so I would have been shocked if he hadn’t have been in the first three.
“I said, we’ve got a pacemaker if you want one - and he’s a dear old horse, Buthelezi but he wants two miles now - and this is a proper horse. He has really developed through the year.
“He has always looked like a Leger type. We ran him in the Derby which is the best trial for the Leger, and he didn’t handle the track. He has a high cruising speed and he has got that kick you need at the end. You don’t plod around here you have to have acceleration. I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t been one or two.
As to future assignments, Gosden has no qualms about stepping the horse up in distance or dropping him down in trip.
He continued: “He is a fresh horse for the autumn, so from that point of view, we will have a look at the QIPCO championship two-mile race, but he has got the pace to come back to a mile and a half if we want.
“He has a beautiful action, he loves good ground and if it was soft, he wouldn’t like it. One thing I always thought years ago was if they have got that action, they want to float off the ground.”
OWEN AND DASCOMBE TAKE PANTHER DEFEAT ON CHIN
Owen, who was about to swop his suit for Manchester United kit ahead of the 5.30pm kick-off against Bolton Wanderers, said of the Kieren Fallon-ridden Brown Panther: “It was a great run and we’re very proud of him. We were confident we could run well because Tom had him in tip-top form, but Kieren said the ground may have been a little quick and he didn’t feel the horse was really letting himself stretch out on it.
“That said the winner’s scored by three lengths, so we can’t use that as an excuse, but Kieren’s sure he’ll be better on softer ground.
“We feel he’s stayed - he showed that today - and he’s got a turn of foot as you can see from the races he’s won. He’s a dream horse for me and I may not have a better one in my life.
“I’ve had winners before, but it’s a totally different pleasure when you’ve bred one this good. All of his family are part of our family. Royal Ascot [where Brown Panther won the King George V Handicap] was unbelievable, but this is comparable.
“All his family get better with age so we can look forward to next year [when Brown Panther will continue racing]. His dam has a two-year-old half-brother we own who is in training, and we have a Manduro yearling who is about to be broken in, and she’s now in foal to Shirocco, the sire of Brown Panther.”
Dascombe said the colt would now be given a holiday until next season, adding: “It’s a Group 1 race and there’s no such thing as a bad second in events of this quality - I wish John Gosden good luck with the winner. We’re thrilled and our team has put in a lot of effort.
“This is the best race he’s run and we’ve got him to look forward to next year. He’s surpassed all our expectations - he was beaten off a mark of 73 first time and now he’s finished second in a Classic. We’ll put him away now and I wouldn’t be surprised if he started off in next year’s May Chester meeting.
“I’m not convinced he needs further, but we’ll see what the winter brings because he can strengthen up.”
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