By Jon Lees
Ireland: Another father-and-son team will attempt to win the Pertemps St Leger on Saturday when Andy Slattery will saddle Sunchart, ridden by his 19-year-old champion apprentice son Andrew.
Aidan and Joseph O’Brien set the benchmark when they landed the Doncaster Classic with Leading Light in 2013 and Slattery snr – the buyer who found superstar jumps horse Faugheen in the sales ring – is confident Sunchart is ready to outperform his outsider’s tag.
It is a brave shout by the trainer in an otherwise forgettable Flat campaign which has so far yielded just two victories for the stable, but Slattery’s confidence is based on Sunchart’s performances against some of this year’s O’Brien contenders.
The winner of one of his six starts, the son of Teofilo finished eighth to Santiago in the Irish Derby and on his latest start went down by a half a length to Pista in the Listed Vinnie Roe Stakes over 1m6f.
“Sunchart has two-year-old form with Santiago,” said Slattery. “He beat us when we were first time out and he had had two previous runs. He has also met Dawn Patrol twice and beaten him twice.
“He had a bad run at Leopardstown in June, before the Irish Derby, and he was a bit wrong after that,” the trainer added. “Because of that we kind of lost our confidence and didn’t ride him positively at The Curragh. We came away thinking if we’d ridden him in the first three that’s where we’d have finished. He finished more or less in the position he jumped off.
“He’s a good stayer and he’s in great form. So I think he has a very good chance, as good a chance as any of the Irish. He will love the trip and I think he will run a big race.”
Slattery, a renowned buyer and seller of racehorses, bought Sunchart as a yearling for owner Pat Garvey, whose striped silks have featured prominently in British Classics before. Sunshine Street finished fourth in 1998 Derby and Arch Swing was second in the 1,000 Guineas in 2007.
His prowess in the sales ring reached its zenith when he picked out Faugheen. If that wasn’t enough on its own, he also discovered another Cheltenham Festival winner Cooldine, after whom he has named his Killenaule, Co Tipperary yard, and Royal Ascot winner My Dream Boat.
“Our other business is buying and selling three-year-olds,” said Slattery. “We bought Faugheen as a three-year-old, won a point-to-point with him and sold him. We are mainly a selling yard.”
There have been offers for Sunchart but so far Garvey has resisted parting with the colt and has insisted Slattery jnr, who tied with Oisin Orr as last year’s champion apprentice in Ireland, is given the mount.
“It will be Andrew’s first Classic ride,” said Slattery. “The owner was insistent. Andrew rode him in Leopardstown last time. He idled in front when we felt he should have probably won; he kind of pulled up thinking he had done enough when he hit the front.”
In 2019 Slattery enjoyed his best-ever campaign with 19 winners on the Flat but Khafaaq’s victory at Galway on Wednesday was only his second of the season.
“It’s been kind of a mess-up of a season here,” he said. “We don’t have a team of top-class horses and it’s hard to place those middle-grade horses in Ireland at this time of year. Mine were off form for a couple of weeks but they seem to be back in form now.”