Torcedor tightens for Irish St Leger after Big Orange withdrawal

7 Sep 2017

The withdrawal of this year’s Ascot Gold Cup winner Big Orange has brought New Zealand-owned stayer Torcedor firmly into contention for the Gr.1 Irish St Leger at the Curragh on Sunday (early Monday morning NZ time).

The 14-furlong (2800m) race had been billed as a clash between Big Orange and fellow top-liner Order Of St George, who won the Ascot Gold Cup last year and finished second to his rival in June.

But the prospect of significantly rain-affected ground has prompted Big Orange’s trainer Michael Bell to bypass this weekend's race.

“The weather gods have gone against us and we are going to keep our powder dry for the Prix Du Cadran at Chantilly,” he told Racing Post.

“There's a wave of rain moving in over the next 48 hours and it's a no-brainer. It's best to be patient and hope we get our ground at Chantilly. Good ground is fine and good to soft is fine, but they are describing the ground at the Curragh as soft in places, with more rain forecast, so it's likely to be proper slow ground as opposed to good with bits of slower ground.”

The Jessica Harrington-trained Torcedor has won on soft ground and also has strong form against Order Of St George, beating him by a length and a half when he scored a career-best win in the Gr.3 Vintage Crop Stakes in April.

In his only start since then, the Fastnet Rock gelding finished fifth in the Ascot Gold Cup.

Torcedor was bought by Te Akau principal David Ellis for 70,000 euros as a yearling at the 2013 Deauville August Yearling Sale.

Carrying the tangerine and blue colours of Te Akau, he is raced by Sir Peter Vela, Sir Patrick Hogan, Mohammed Moussa and Laurie Laxon.

He has had 14 starts for four wins, four placings and more than £140,000 in prize-money.

Bookmakers rate Torcedor a 10-to-one chance in the St Leger, with Order Of St George the odds-on favourite.

Torcedor is one of two horses with Kiwi connections chasing Group One glory in Ireland this weekend.

Last-start Group Two winner Eminent, who carries the colours of Sir Peter Vela, takes on the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday (Sunday morning NZT). - The Informant