The William Hill-sponsored St Leger is the oldest of the five British flat racing Classics, as well as the longest in trip. Run at Doncaster racecourse and over a distance of 1m6f it’s a race for 3 year-olds only.
This contest is often targeted by horses that ran in that season’s Great Voltigeur, with 6 of the last 16 winners having ran in that York race before winning this, while in recent years with seen 7 winning favourites in the last 16 runnings.
Look out for John Gosden-trained horses as this powerful Newmarket stable has won the race three times in the last 17 years, while top Irish handler – Aidan O’Brien has saddled the winner of the St Leger six times, including for the last two seasons. Also note any Godolphin-owned entries as they these famous blue silks have won the final English Classic of the season a staggering six times!
Here at RACING AHEAD we’ve got all the key stats ahead of the 2019 renewal – this year run on Saturday 14th September.
2018 – Kew Gardens (3/1)
2017 – Capri (3/1 fav)
2016 – Harbour Law (22/1)
2015 – Simple Verse (8/1)
2014 – Kingston Hill (9/4 fav)
2013 – Leading Light (7/2 fav)
2012 – Encke (25/1)
2011 – Masked Marvel (15/2)
2010 – Arctic Cosmos (12/1)
2009 – Mastery (14/1)
2008 – Conduit (8/1)
2007 – Lucarno (7/2)
2006 – Sixties Icon (11/8 fav)
2005 – Scorpion (10/11 fav)
2004 – Rule of Law (3/1 jfav)
2003 – Brian Boru (5/4 fav)
2002 – Bollin Eric (7/1)
15/17 – Had 2 or 3 previous career wins
15/17 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
14/17 – Placed favourites
14/17 – Had never raced at Doncaster before
13/17 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
13/17 – Had won a Group race before
12/17 – Had 4 or 5 previous runs that season
12/17 – Had won over at least 1m3f before
11/17 – Winning distance of 1 length or more
11/17 – Drawn in stall 5 or higher
10/17 – Had never raced over 1m6f or further before
9/17 – Officially rated 109 to 115
9/17 – Won last time out
7/17 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
7/17 – Ran in the Great Voltigeur last time out (2 won it)
5/17 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
3/17 – Ran in the Gordon Stakes last time out (2 won it)
3/17 – Trained by John Gosden
3/17 – Won by a Godolphin-owned horse (6 wins in total)
3/17 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori (5 wins in total)
2/17 – Ridden by William Buick
2/17 – Ridden by Andrea Atzeni
2/17 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/17 – Winners from stall 1
Godolphin have won the race 6 times
Aidan O’Brien has trained 6 winners of the race
The average winning SP in the last 16 years is 8/1
The St Leger, which was first run in 1776, is the oldest of the five English Classics and, therefore, the 1m6 1/2f contest has loads of history to get stuck into. Last year we saw the powerful Aidan O’Brien camp land their sixth success in the race when Kew Gardens took the honours
O’Brien is also still some way short of being the leading trainer in this race, with John Scott winning the pot a staggering 16 times in the 1800’s!!
This year, O’Brien will be looking for a famous treble in the race, as they also won the 2017 renewal. This is something they’ve not managed yet, with the last yard to win three St Leger’s on the spin being, the already-mentioned, John Scott.
Let’s take a look at some of the key trends………….
Trip Advisor – With the St Leger run over 1m6f this is likely to be the first, or only the second, time these 3 year-olds have tackled this sort of distance. Therefore, a certain degree of trust has to be taken into account as to whether some of these horses can get home. While, many also improve for the step up in trip and could easily leave past form behind. It is worth noting that 12 of the last 17 winners had at least won over 1m3f or further though. However, with 10 of the last 17 winners having never raced over this 1m6f trip then those horses stepping up in distance certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.
Bookie v Punter – It’s actually not been a bad race for the market leaders. We’ve seen seven winning favourites in the last 17 renewals (41%), while a massive 14 of the last 17 (82%) jollies were placed. With the average winning SP being 8/1 then, more often than not, the winner of the St Leger comes from the top half of the betting market.
Fitness First – Having had a recent run seems to count for something too. Horses that have had two or three previous career wins have won 15 of the last 17 runnings, while 12 of the last 17 had run between 4 or 5 times that season. With a massive 15 of the last 17 winners also having finished in the top three in their most recent run, then heading here off the back off a solid effort is another thing to look for.
Draw Bias – Yes, the St Leger is run over a trip of 1m6f so you’d think the draw wouldn’t really matter. However, that’s not the case as seemingly having a good early position and saving energy has been key. This is backed-up with 11 of the last 17 winners (65%) hailing from stalls 5 or higher.
Stable Diet – I’ve already touched on the excellent record of the Aidan O’Brien yard in the race – they will be looking for their seventh win in the race and having landed the last two, they will also be eying-up a famous treble. With three wins since 2007, then trainer John Gosden is another top yard to note, while the boys in blue of Godolphin have a fine record too – winning six St Legers, with the last coming in 2012.
Track Form – Don’t be too worried if your fancy hasn’t raced at Doncaster before as a massive 14 of the last 17 winners hadn’t either. Doncaster is a fairly uncomplicated track, with a long straight so will suit most staying horses anyway.
Group Class – With the St Leger being a Group One contest, then it goes without saying having shown a decent level of form in Group contests in the past helps. This is further backed-up with 13 of the last 17 winners having won a Group race before heading here.
Top Trials – The St Leger is the final of the five English Classics and being run towards the end of the season then there have been many races before this to prime horses up for this. The main trials to note over the years have been the Gordon Stakes (Glorious Goodwood, 3rd Aug) and the Great Voltiguer Stakes (York, 21st Aug). Both of these races are always worth a look back on – not only the winners, but those that ran well in-behind too. In the last 17 years, we’ve seen 10 St Leger winners that had previous run in one of those mentioned trial races.
At this stage, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Japan heads most of the ante-post markets and he looks another typical Ballydoyle St Leger type. He finished a respectable third in the Epsom Derby and then backed that up with top wins at Royal Ascot (King Edward VII Stakes) and a Group One success over in France. He looks the sort to improve again over a longer trip too, so if turning up on the day will be all the rage to put O’Brien in St Leger ‘Seventh Heaven’ and give him his third win in the race in as many years.