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HILL THE LEGER KING

Mon, Sep 15, 2014

Kingston Hill put doubts about the trip and ground to bed as he stayed on strongly to land the Ladbrokes St Leger by a length and a quarter at Doncaster this afternoon.

The 9/4 favourite was given a peach of a ride from jockey Andrea Atzeni, who left it late to produce his challenge, and, although the horse drifted left across Snow Sky in the final furlong, his rivals could have no match for his staying power as he galloped past Romsdal to claim a famous victory.

Owner Paul Smith was clearly emotional after the race and admitted to shedding a tear or two as his three-year-old passed the post.

"It's brilliant to win a race like this. There will be a few more tears tonight - I was crying as he passed the post!" said Smith. "Obviously it's been a bit of an up and down week with the decision on whether or not to run him but it's been like that all season really. He's been a bit unlucky all year with the ground but we took the plunge to run him and it was the right thing to do.

"It's great for Roger and the team and I think he's made the right call each time. Andrea has given him a great ride as the plan was to give him one long run down the outside and that's exactly what's happened. He was a bit further back than I would have liked about three furlongs out but Andrea rode him perfectly as we thought he'd stay."

Atzeni could also barely contain his delight after the race.

"I'm happy for the horse as he showed us last year what he might be capable of and also for Roger, who has trained him really well this year," said the jockey. "It's great to win races like this, not only for Roger, but also for Paul Smith, who is a lovely man."

Roger Varian, who only made the decision to run Kingston Hill yesterday, was a relieved man following Kingston Hill's success.

"It's terrific - it really hasn't sunk in yet," said the trainer.

"It's an exciting thing to win a Classic and it's what we're all in it for. I thought Andrea rode him brilliantly. The plan was always to come with a long run down the outside as he's not a horse who quickens instantly. He's got a big long stride and a long straight like this is ideal. I was a bit worried three out as I thought we might have a bit too much ground to cover but he's stayed on well and shown his class. It's great for the staff back home as we've got a big team and I know just how much this will mean to them.

"It's been difficult this week. Obviously when we were here on Wednesday and Thursday, the sun was beating down and it looked like the ground was going to be fast come today. However, the cloud cover and dew in the mornings has helped the ground stay as it is and, in the end, we were happy to let him take his chance. We'll obviously see how he is coming out of this race but, assuming he's 100%, we'll have to look at the Arc."

Kingston Hill has now won both his Group One victories at Doncaster, his Ladbrokes St Leger victory following on from his success in the Racing Post Trophy last season. St Leger sponsors Ladbrokes cut Kingston Hill to 10/1 (from 14/1) for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe following the race.

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