World class trainer Aidan O'Brien

St George Leaves Field Of Battle

10 months ago

Aidan O’Brien’s high-class stayer Order Of St George has been retired just a few days before he was due to run in the Irish St Leger, a race he won in 2015 and 2017 and in which he was also runner-up in 2016.

The six-year-old son of Galileo enjoyed his greatest moment though at Royal Ascot, winning the 2016 Gold Cup in great style, then only just came off second best in defense of his crown 12 months later in one of the best staying races of the decade when beaten a short-head by the charismatic Big Orange. The Ballydoyle-based star also landed the Group 2 British Champions Cup last October at Ascot, overcoming the high-class Torcedor.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Order Of St George ran some tremendous races at the highest level over a mile-and-a-half, including finishing third to stable companion Found in the 2016 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and coming fourth behind Enable in last year’s renewal. In all he ran 25 times, winning 13 races (including three Group 1’s) and amassed career prize money of very close to £2 million.

A new career as a National Hunt stallion now beckons for the horse who his handler conceded had simply found the march of ‘Father Time’ too much to resist.

“We did not want to be greedy and risk him on Sunday [in the Irish St Leger),” O’Brien explained. “It’s nothing serious, just age has caught up with him, and we thought it was the right thing to do for the horse. Order Of St George was an incredible horse. He was a big, strong animal who was always very clean-winded. He was an incredible stayer but had the class to be competitive in an Arc.

“He handled soft ground, heavy ground, good ground and quick ground. He was versatile both in terms of ground and trip. He won a lot of races and was probably a little unlucky to be pipped in one or two others as well.”

O’Brien’s Group 2 Curragh Cup winner Flag Of Honour is now a best priced 15/8 favourite with Paddy Power to land the Irish classic on Sunday in the absence of the stable standard bearer. Irish Derby winner Latrobe, trained by Aidan’s son Joseph, is the current second-favourite at 3/1 with Bet365 , but is also still engaged in Saturday’s St Leger at Doncaster for which he is a top priced 25/1 with Paddy Power while some other firms are still in single figures.

Paul Alster

Written by Paul Alster

Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.