Aidan O’Brien has decided on the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger at the Curragh on Sunday for Order Of St George in preference to the English version at Doncaster.
The three-year-old was a wide-margin winner of a trial for the Curragh showpiece last month but had been declared against his own age group on Town Moor on Thursday morning.
With rain forecast at both venues, a late call looked likely but O’Brien pulled Order Of St George out of the Doncaster race early on Friday afternoon due to the ground quickening up a touch.
The master of Ballydoyle also runs Kingfisher in Ireland.
Many felt Kingfisher was unlucky in the Ascot Gold Cup when second to Trip To Paris but he was a long way behind Order Of St George last time out when O’Brien made it clear he would come on for the run after a mid-season break.
O’Brien said: “Order Of St George had a setback at Derby trial time. He was going to go to Lingfield instead of Kilimanjaro, but he got a temperature and we just had to give him a bit of time off. We had been very happy with him up until that point.
“We were very happy with him going to the Curragh and he handled the ease in the ground well. Obviously he won very nicely and we were delighted.
“He has form on good and fast ground, but he is one of those horses that handles ease very well.
“Kingfisher had a nice break after the Ascot Gold Cup prior to running in the St Leger Trial at the Curragh last month and we hope, and think, that he has come forward a good bit for that last run.”
Splitting Order Of St George and Kingfisher in the trial was John Oxx’s Sea Moon, winner of the Hardwicke Stakes in his younger days with Sir Michael Stoute.
He has spent the last couple of years in Australia, but returned to training with Oxx as it was felt he was more suited to the European style of racing.
“I was very pleased with his reappearance at the Curragh as we didn’t really know what to expect, and he was beaten by a good horse on the day,” said Oxx.
“He ran a terrific race and seems to have come out of the race well and has stepped forward a bit.
“He’s won on fast ground, but I don’t think he liked it out in Australia, and I’d prefer some ease rather than good to firm. He didn’t mind it soft last time.”
Forgotten Rules looked set to dominate the staying division when maintaining his unbeaten record on Champions Day at Ascot last season but he was only third in the Gold Cup on ground quicker than ideal and disappointed when turned out quickly behind Doncaster-bound Bondi Beach.
He is one horse who will be well at home if the forecast rain arrives.
“He’s been doing very well. He ran a superb race at Royal Ascot and I was probably wrong to run him in the Curragh Cup. The ground dried throughout the day,” said Weld on At The Races.
“I walked the track that morning and thought it would be OK, but by 4.30 that afternoon it had really dried and it was a very good race. Order of St George is a class horse so he ran well, but he has to have soft ground or good to soft.
“I want rain if he’s going to run.”
Weld also saddles Good Tradition, with Willie Mullins represented by Wicklow Brave.
There is a strong challenge from Britain, headed by Brian Meehan’s Agent Murphy, an easy winner of a Group Three at Newbury last time out.
Second Step represents Luca Cumani and moves up in trip, while last year’s winner Brown Panther is back again for Tom Dascombe and Michael Owen.
Stoute is represented by Gospel Choir, the mount of Kevin Manning.
Chris Richardson of owners Cheveley park Stud said: “Sir Michael (Stoute) said this was the plan after he ran at Windsor.
“We knew the ground was to his disliking and you can’t take anything away from the winner as it was very impressive, but she (Beautiful Romance) was receiving a huge amount of weight of us.
“He is a horse that needs to go to the racecourse as opposed to going up and down the gallops at Newmarket, as at his age he is getting used to that whereas a race makes sure he has a good blow .
“Although the last run was not ideal he has come out of it fine. He has certainly proved effective over a mile and a half and the step back up (in trip) should suit.”