DONCASTER, ENGLAND // When the St Leger was first run in 1776 the finish was fought out by two fillies. Blue Bunting bids to extend their fine record against the colts today in the world's oldest Classic.
The Godolphin filly has emerged spectacularly from the shadow of humble expectation over the past few months.
Since her victory in the Yorkshire Oaks three weeks ago the belief has grown that she can build on the Dubai-based operation's previous successes in the 2,900m Group 1 contest.
Before the British turf season began Frankie Dettori, Godolphin's retained rider, did not even know what Blue Bunting looked like. While Godolphin's best horses jetted from England to Dubai and back, she remained in Newmarket with an ankle injury.
Eight days before the English 1,000 Guineas in April, Dettori was preparing White Moonstone, who pulled up on the Newmarket gallops, and was ruled out of the first fillies' Classic.
Blue Bunting, the daughter of Dynaformer, was then drafted in, and her capacity to outstay her contemporaries was first displayed when she defied a strong headwind to take the 1,600m race.
Since then she has shown that fused to her considerable athletic ability is a determination to pass the finishing post in first place.
There is a suspicion, however, that Blue Bunting is aware of her prowess and has yet to fully extend herself, something that she will have to do if she is to beat the seven colts in the line-up, led by Prince Khalid Abdullah's Sea Moon.
Saeed bin Suroor's Rumh, the other filly in the race, will act as pacemaker. Genius Beast will also run for Godolphin.
Blue Bunting is a roan who looks nearly grey, as well as a bit awkward. "She has some distinctive markings, and sometimes she looks a little bit like a hyena, but she'd be a bit quicker than one of those so that's good news," Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said in jest.
"I would say that she just does enough. She keeps a little up her sleeve for when the big knockout is needed.
"I think her toughness matches her brilliance."
Crisford clearly knows what it takes to win the St Leger, as the organisation set up by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has won the race five times.