Past Winners » Sans Frontieres


I was surprised that they put Sans Frontieres in at as big as 11/2 for next Saturday’s Irish St Leger, and he is well worth backing at that. The case for him is solid. He has always been highly regarded – he was only beaten a length in the Dante last year – but mental and physical problems have prevented him from fulfilling his potential until recently. He has shaped an awful lot better in his last three runs since Jeremy Noseda fitted a tongue-tie to him, however, and he has performed especially well on his last two starts since the trainer added cheekpieces.

He didn’t shape too badly three runs ago when he finished fourth behind Harbinger in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, but he improved significantly on that to win the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting. Then, on his last run, in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, he probably put up a career-best in beating Laaheb by two and a half lengths, with the pair of them clear.

I was worried about him on the easy ground going into that race. The only time that he encountered easy ground before that, in the Huxley Stakes at Chester’s May meeting this year, he disappointed behind Debussy. However, that was before they started fitting the equipment, and it is reasonably safe to assume now that that disappointing run was not down to the ground.

Subsequent event have made Sans Frontieres look even better than he has done on the days on which he has raced. Debussy won the Grade 1 Arlington Million two weeks ago, while Harbinger broke several records in the King George. The horse that finished second to Sans Frontieres in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes, Redwood, won the Group 3 Glorious Stakes at Goodwood on his subsequent run, and was only just beaten in a Group 2 race at Deauville two weeks ago, while the horse that finished second in the Geoffrey Freer, Laaheb, won a Group 3 race at Kempton last Saturday.

On that Geoffrey Freer run, Sans Frontieres probably won with more in hand than the winning margin. While he came under a ride early in the home straight, he picked up impressively and won, going away, with his ears pricked. He seemed to appreciate the extra distance, at worst he didn’t seem to mind the ground, and he probably had a fair bit more left to give if more had been required. Furthermore, he was carrying a Group 2 penalty, he was giving 4lb to everything in the race except Kite Wood.

Kite Wood will probably re-oppose on Saturday, and he will be a danger if back to his best. He will love the easy ground, and he apparently came home after Newbury with pulled muscles, so he is not to be under-estimated, but at respective prices, I much prefer Sans Frontieres. Jeremy Noseda’s horse comes into the race on a high, whereas Kite Wood has to bounce back. Also, even if he had been at his best, it is stretching it a lot to say that he would have beaten Sans Frontieres at Newbury.

Rite Of Passage and Profound Beauty will both be dangerous, but it is likely that at least one of them will side-step the race because of the ground, and Opinion Poll would be the main danger in my book on the ground if he made the journey. Michael Jarvis’s horse has been crying out for a bit of cut in the ground all year, and he should have it on Saturday. He got away with the good ground at York last time, but he could be top class on soft ground, an indication of which we saw when he bolted up in a listed race at Nottingham in April over Saturday’s trip.

At the prices, however, I much prefer Sans Frontieres. While he doesn’t need soft ground or excel on it, he does handle it. He is a classy horse and he is under-rated by the market by a fair way.