Top jockey William Pike won his fourth St Leger when he piloted favourite Real Love to an impressive victory over Balmont Girl and Respondent in the 2100m race on December 20, at Ascot.

Pike had previously won the race in 2006, 2010 and 2013.

Real Love’s turn of foot in the concluding stages augurs well for her Perth Cup chances on January 1 over 2400m.

In the run to the line Real Love pulled away from her two rivals to win by half a length.

On the fence in fourth position for most of the race Real Love trailed her arch rival, Balmont Girl, into the home straight before shrugging her off at the end.

Balmont Girl was the only horse to race off the fence, in the small field of five, until approaching the turn.

With the earlier dawdling pace of the race she lacked the brilliance of Real Love in the sprint home.

Respondent looked like causing an upset by forging to the lead late in the race, but just weakened on the run and surrendered second place, right on the post, to the tenacious  Balmont Girl, who refused to quit.

Owner of the winner, and third horse, Bob Peters, said he was ” never confident,” that is classy mare would win. “Both the second and third horses ran well and it would have suited me from a Perth Cup view if Respondent had been successful. I thought he was going to win until the final 30m. mark.”

Real Love will incur a rating penalty of up to 3kg, following her win in the St Leger.