Jim Crowley is aiming to cap a stellar season with a first Classic success aboard Crystal Ocean in the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster.
The reigning champion jockey has made the most of his new job as retained rider for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum by picking up a host of top spare rides.
Two of his most significant victories have been on Ulysses in the Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International and it is for that horse’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute that Crowley has a great chance of glory in the world’s oldest Classic.
Crystal Ocean has been brought along in typical Stoute style, with tremendous patience and foresight.
Runner-up on his sole start as a two-year-old, the son of Sea The Stars enjoyed a cosy maiden success at Nottingham in April before being given a sterner test of his credentials in the Dante Stakes at York, where he went into many notebooks with an eyecatching third to Permian.
He occupied the same place behind that horse in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, before booking his place in the Leger with victory in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood.
“I got a phone call from Sir Michael asking if I’d like to ride. Obviously, it’s a great ride to pick up and I’m looking forward to it,” Crowley said.
“He was probably a little unlucky at Ascot, but he looked very good last time in the Gordon Stakes and it looks like he’s improving.”
Standing in Crystal Ocean’s way is a mighty battalion from the Aidan O’Brien stable with Irish Derby hero Capri leading his four-horse assault. O’Brien said: “Capri is a horse we always thought would stay further than a mile and a half and he’s in good form.”
Venice Beach goes to Town Moor on the back of playing second fiddle to the impressive Cracksman in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York.
O’Brien added: “We gave him a little bit of an easy time going to the Voltigeur, kind of using it to bring him on for the Leger, rather than the Voltigeur being the be-all and end-all.”
Douglas Macarthur and The Anvil complete O’Brien’s team.
At Musselburgh, William Haggas is chasing back-to-back wins in the £25,000 Caledonian Cup, this year with Solo Mission, ridden by Tom Queally. Haggas, who struck 12 months ago with Novalina, saddles Solo Mision against six rivals in the 1m 6f handicap.
Silvestre De Sousa partners Amelia Dream for Mick Channon, while Mark Johnston, winning trainer two years ago with Adele, is represented by Dominating.
There are two Scottish runners, top-weight Tor and bottom-weight Somnambulist, trained by Iain Jardine and Keith Dalgleish respectively.
Alistair Whillans could hold the key to the EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Scottish Premier Series Fillies’ Handicap as he saddles both Hidden Rebel and Alexandrakollontai. The Hawick trainer’s son and assistant Ewan said: “Hidden Rebel won this two years ago and has blinkers on for the first time. If she takes to the headgear she should go close.
“Alexandrakollontai is in good form at home. If they go hard in front, and she can latch on to them, she will probably finish the race off well.”
De Sousa has six rides in all and he gets the leg up on Asaas in the Deuchers IPA Handicap. The gelding is a rare Musselburgh runner for Roger Varian who is represented by the well-fancied Defoe in the St Leger.