• The St Leger was originally held over two miles

  • Aidan O’Brien has trained six St Leger winners thus far

  • The Great Voltigeur Stakes gives the best pointers to the St Leger


The St Leger has been won by some legendary horses through the decades and jubilant crowds descend upon Doncaster’s Town Moor to see a little piece of horse racing history every September.

The Doncaster St Leger Festival itself is one of the most prestigious race weeks of the British horse racing calendar and a fitting end to the Classic season.

St Leger History

The St Leger stakes is the oldest and final classic of the annual flat racing calendar.

The race is held at Doncaster Racecourse - one of the oldest courses in Britain. There are records of horse race meetings going back to the 16th century at the Yorkshire venue.

Held originally over 2 miles, the contest is now run over a slightly shorter 1 mile, 6f, 132 yards. The race was the brainchild of Lieutenant Colonel Anthony St Leger in 1776, a successful Irish soldier who later became Governor of St Lucia.

Held on 24th September of that year, the race was open to three-year-old horses, and was won by Allabaculia whose connections paid 25 guineas to enter.

The St Leger itself is the final leg of the colts’ and fillies Triple Crown. Any star three-year-old begins their Triple Crown quest with the Guineas in May, before heading to Epsom for the Derby or the Oaks.

If any manages to scoop those two wonderful races, they then arrive at Doncaster in September for a chance of making history. The races that make up the Triple Crown are very popular with lots of horse racing tips.

The St Leger is a gruelling test of stamina and pitches the two sexes in together, with Nijinsky being the UK’s last Triple Crown winner all the way back to 1970.

Quite often the St Leger is bypassed in favour of running in alternative races such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or the Breeders’ Cup Turf Classic.

St Leger Trends

The Great Voltigeur Stakes at York has become the most significant St Leger trial in the last twenty years or so.

Eight of the last eighteen winners raced in it. Rule Of Law (2004), Lucarno (2007) and Logician (2019) did the Great Voltigeur/St Leger double.

The Gordon Stakes at Goodwood is another St Leger barometer with its winners going onto Doncaster glory including Millenary (2000), Sixties Icon (2006) and Conduit (2008).

  • Age: Three-year-olds only.

  • Starting price: 4/10 winners have been favourites/joint favourites, 6/10 have come from the top three in the race horse betting.

  • Last Outing: 6/10 winners won on their last run before the St Leger, 10/10 winners at least placed in the top three on their last run before the St Leger.

  • Previous Distance Form: 7/10 winners had at least one previous run over 1m5f or further, 6/10 winners had at least one win to their name over 1m5f or further.

  • Rating: 9/10 winners were rated 110 or higher.

  • Group Form: 8/10 winners had a least one previous win in a Group 1-3 race.

  • Season Form: 10/10 winners had at least three runs that season with 8/10 having at least four runs that season. 10/10 winners had at least one victory that season with 8/10 winners having two wins or more.

Fate Of St Leger Favourites

Favourites have performed well in the St Leger over the past ten years. Logician, a 5/6 favourite, broke the record by winning the race in 3 minutes and 0.27 seconds in 2019.

Four favourites have won in the past ten years – Logician 2019, Capri 2017, Kingston Hill 2014 and Leading Light in 2013. Kew Gardens in 2018 was the 3/1 second favourite and last year’s winner – Galileo Chrome was the 4/1 third-favourite.

The biggest outsider to score from the live betting in recent years was Harbour Law, who won at 22/1 in 2016. The 25/1 longshot Encke secured victory in 2012, denying 2/5 favourite Camelot the Triple Crown.

Previous St Leger Winners

  • 2020: Galileo Chrome (Tom Marquand/Joseph O'Brien) 

  • 2019: Logician (Frankie Dettori/John Gosden)

  • 2018: Kew Gardens (Ryan Moore/Aidan O'Brien)

  • 2017: Capri (Ryan Moore/Aidan O'Brien)

  • 2016: Harbour Law (George Baker/Laura Mongan)

  • 2015: Simple Verse (Andrea Atzeni/Ralph Beckett)

  • 2014: Kingston Hill (Andrea Atzeni/Roger Varian) 

  • 2013: Leading Light (Joseph O'Brien/Aidan O'Brien) 

  • 2012: Encke (Mickael Barzalona/Mahmood Al Zarooni) 

  • 2011: Masked Marvel (William Buick/John Gosden)

Most Successful St Leger Jockeys

The most successful St Leger jockey of all time is Bill Scott with nine wins – Jack Spigot (1821), Memnon (1825), The Colonel (1828), Rowton (1829), Don John (1838), Charles The Twelfth (1839), Launcelot (1840), Satirist (1841) and Sir Tatton Sykes (1846).

Lester Piggott and John Jackson rode eight St Leger winners apiece and are the joint second most successful jockeys in the race.

Of the current riders today, Frankie Dettori is the leading jockey with six wins (Classic Cliche 1995, Shantou 1996, Scorpion 2005, Sixties Icon 2006, Conduit 2008 and Logician 2019).

Dettori’s weighing room colleagues Ryan Moore, William Buick and Andrea Atzeni all have a couple of Leger wins apiece.

Most Successful Trainer In St Leger History

John Scott leads this St Leger record with 16 wins.

His winners were Matilda (1827), The Colonel (1828), Rowton (1829), Margrave (1832), Touchstone (1834), Don John (1838), Charles The Twelfth (1839), Launcelot (1840), Satirist (1841), The Baron (1845), Newminster (1851), West Australian (1853), Warlock (1856), Imperieuse (1857), Gamester (1859) and The Marquis (1862).

Other leading St Leger trainers have been Mathew Dawson, John Porter, Cecil Boyd-Rochfort and Dick Hern, who all trained six winners.

As of 2020, Aidan O’Brien currently sits on six winners and could well surpass that figure in the coming seasons.

St Leger Prize Money

The St Leger Festival will enjoy a £250,000 increase in prize-money across the board in 2021, with the St Leger itself returning to the 2019 prize-money level of £700,000.

The biggest races, including the St Leger, will be broadcast by ITV Racing. Keep your eyes peeled for all the latest ITV Racing tips on our 888sport blog.


*Credit for the main photo belongs to Len Puttnam / AP Photo / Staff*

 

FIRST PUBLISHED: 31st August 2021

About the Author
By
Steve Mullington

Steven is a sports and horseracing enthusiast and is a member of the Horseracing Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) in the United Kingdom.

He is a regular visitor to Paris Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and a lifelong fan of the Aintree Grand National, a subject he writes about 52 weeks of the year. Last year he reached the impressive milestone of attending the last 25 renewals of the Grand National.