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Five-strong O'Brien team leads to St Leger being reoffered

Aidan O’Brien’s embarrassment of riches in Saturday’s William Hill St Leger led to the race being reoffered for a further 30 minutes after the declaration deadline of 10am on Thursday. 

Races being reopened having attracted seven or fewer declared runners is not uncommon but that long-standing rule was tweaked at the start of the year following the conclusion to a major review and crack down on non-runners by the BHA last summer.

To discourage trainers from entering more than one horse to ensure races attract enough runners for the deadline for declarations not to be extended, only to then withdraw the additional horse(s) with a self-certificate after declarations have closed, the amended rule for all races now states that “any trainer who has declared more than one horse will be treated as if a maximum of one declaration has been made”. 

So despite attracting a field of 12 at the 10am cut off, the St Leger was reoffered as O’Brien was responsible for five of those runners and Charlie Appleby a further two, meaning only seven trainers were represented in the Classic.

BHA head of racing Paul Johnson, said: "This rule was amended earlier this year as part of the non-runner review as it was felt the previous system left a loophole which could encourage trainers to declare horses that they did not intend to run in order to prevent races reoffering. 

"The closing of this loophole may mean that a small number of races are reoffered that may not otherwise have been but on balance we are comfortable with the outcome."

In the end, no other trainers took up the invitation to declare for the St Leger after 10am, leaving the final field of 12 unchanged.  

The ground was officially good, good to soft in places at Doncaster on Thursday night. Clerk of the course Roderick Duncan said on Thursday: "There is no rain forecast overnight but there is a 40 per cent chance of showers at the back end of the card tomorrow, though if we get them it shouldn't amount to a great deal."

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