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 16 years, while top Irish handler – Aidan O’Brien has saddled the winner of the St Leger five times, including last year with Capri. 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 JuiceStorm we’ve got all the key stats ahead of the 2018 renewal – this year run on Saturday 15th September.
Recent St Leger Winners
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)
Key St Leger Trends
15/16 – Had 2 or 3 previous career wins
14/16 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
13/16 – Placed favourites
13/16 – Had never raced at Doncaster before
12/16 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
12/16 – Had won a Group race before
12/16 – Had 4 or 5 previous runs that season
11/16 – Had won over at least 1m3f before
10/16 – Had never raced over 1m6f or further before
10/16 – Winning distance of 1 length or more
10/16 – Drawn in stall 5 or higher
9/16 – Officially rated 109 to 115
9/16 – Won last time out
7/16 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
6/16 – Ran in the Great Voltigeur last time out (2 won it)
4/16 – USA-bred winners
4/16 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
3/16 – Ran in the Gordon Stakes last time out (2 won it)
3/16 – Trained by John Gosden
3/16 – Won by a Godolphin-owned horse
3/16 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori (5 wins in total)
2/16 – Ridden by William Buick
2/16 – Ridden by Andrea Atzeni
2/16 – Winners from stall 1
Godolphin have won the race 6 times
Aidan O’Brien has trained 5 winners of the race
The average winning SP in the last 16 years is 15/2
This year is certainly whizzing by and I think it’s fair to say it’s been a cracking summer – not only on the weather front but we’ve also had some top-notch flat action……..but there’s still more to come.
Okay, jumping fans will be starting to get excited as we’ve only a few months till the hedgehoppers are back in action properly, however, before that we’ve still plenty of unfinished business on the flat with Champions Day at Ascot, plus the two Autumn fixtures at Newmarket, while before all that we’ve got the final of the English Classics to tick off the list – the William Hill St Leger.
The St Leger is the oldest of the five English Classics and first staged in 1776. Therefore, the 1m6 1/2f contest has bundles of history for us to delve back into. With the race being for 3 year-olds only then each season we all wonder if we’ll see another ‘Triple Crown’ winner – for those that don’t know, horses have to win the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby & St Leger. However, as you can imagine, it’s not an easy task and this is backed-up with the classy Nijinsky being the last horse to land this famous treble back on 1970. Yes, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Camelot came very close in 2012, after scooping the 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby before going down just ¾ of a length (2nd) in his Leger, but with this season’s Guineas and Derby being won by different horses then unfortunately we aren’t going to see a TC winner in 2018.
Let’s take a look at some of the key trends………….
We’ll start with the key connections to look for. Powerful Irish handler, Aidan O’Brien, has won the St Leger five times since 2001, including twelve months ago with Capri, and it goes without saying we can expect the Ballydoyle maestro to be mob-handed again in 2018. At this stage his Kew Gardens looks like being one of his main players, after winning impressively over this trip at Royal Ascot in the Queen’s Vase back in June, and if heading here looks likely to go off as favourite based on what we’ve seen this term.
The ‘boys in blue’ of Godolphin are another set of connections to have on your radar as they’ve been responsible for six winners since 1995. They’ve also already won the Derby this season so will be looking to add this Classic to their 2018 haul – it will be a shock if they’ve not got at least a few runners in the race. Trainer John Gosden is worth a mention too. He’s been fired in four winners St Leger winners during his career – including three of the last eleven, while with five wins in the race, top jockey – Frankie Dettori – has by-far the best record in the race of the riders still in action. William Buick (2) and Andrea Atzeni (2) are other jockeys with good stats in the race too.
How have the favourites fared? In the ‘punter v bookie’ battle it’s certainly the backers that have held sway in recent years with 7 of the last 16 favourites winning – last year’s winner – Capri – was also sent off as the market leader. This is further backed-up with a monster 13 of the last 16 market leaders hitting the frame, while the average winning SP in the last 16 years is 15/2.
For me, one of the biggest trends recently is that 15 of the last 16 winners had won two or three times in their careers. Yes, most will tick that stats, but if you also add in that 14 of the last 16 winners were placed in the top three in their most-recent race this will further help whittle down the runners.
Form over the trip? Don’t be too concerned if your fancy hasn’t won over the Leger trip (1m 6 1/2f) (or further) as 10 of the last 16 winners hadn’t either. However, do note horses with proven Group form as 12 of the last 16 winners had won at least at Group Three class in the past.
What are the key trial races? The St Leger also has several leading trial races that have been a good guide over the years. Having contested the Great Voltigeur (22nd Aug, York), or the Gordon Stakes (4th Aug Goodwood) is significant with 9 of the last 16 St Leger winners having run in one of those races that same season. Plus, four of the last 16 (two each) have actually won one of those leading St Leger Trial races before going onto glory in the final English Classic.
What about the draw? With the race being run over 1m6 1/2f then it might sound strange, but the draw is still something to note. Ten of the last 16 winners came from stalls 5 or higher, while we’ve had only two winners from stall one win from that same sixteen-year period. What does this tell us? Well, this draw stat indicates it’s difficult to get a good early position in the race, without using up valuable energy, from the lower starting stalls – with that in mind, then once the draw is announced (two days before the race) then I’ll be looking for horses drawn five or higher.
Finally, heading here race-fit is another obvious statement to make, but also coming here in-form is key. As mentioned, horses that finished in the top three in their last race are worth having on your side, but 9 of the last 16 (56%) won last time out too. Add in that 12 of the last 16 winners came into this race with between 4 or 5 previous runs that season, which further backs-up the fitness and experience angle once more.
So, yes, a lot can change between now and the race September (15th), but hopefully these trends will help narrow the field down once we know the final runners. As mentioned, it’s worth looking back at the Gordon Stakes and the Great Voltigeur Stakes once they are run as these are often decent guides, while anything Godolphin, Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden will be popular with punters.
Kew Garden’s, for O’Brien, would surely go off favourite if running here and we know he stays this trip. O’Brien could, however, have stern competition from his son – Joseph – this year as his Latrobe was a good winner of the Irish Derby back in June and is another to note, while the Tim Easterby-trained Wells Farhh Go looked a decent stayer in the making after winning the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket back in July. At the time of writing this horse holds an entry for the Great Voltigeur at York in August – a good run in that would see him as a leading player here. We’ll see!
JUICESTORM VERDICT: Another race that could easily develop into a match-up with Kew Gardens and LAH TI DAR the two horses in question. Yes, the ‘boys in blue’ of Godolphin have a fine record in the race (6 wins) and in Loxley and Old Persian they have live chances again. While the Epsom Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee is a consistent and tough sort that has finished in the top three in 9 of his 11 career starts. He was just over 4 lengths behind Kew Gardens at Longchamp in July so will need to find a bit of improvement for the step up in trip. Since then Kew Gardens has run third in the Great Voltigeur over 1m4f so will need to reverse that form with the winner Old Persian, but you feel Kew Gardens is a better horse over this longer trip so would have every chance of doing so – 6 of the last 16 St Leger winners ran in that York race prior to heading here. Having said that, it’s still hard to get away from the Gosden runner – LAH TI DAR – and full marks to connections for running her here instead of other possible targets later in the season. Being a filly, she’ll get a handy 3lbs from Kew Gardens and she’ll also need to step up to this much higher graded race. She was last seen winning by an easy 10 lengths in a Listed race and with 12 of the last 16 St Leger winners having won at Group level she’ll need to overcome this stat. The Gosden yard also have a fine record in the race – winning it four times in total with the most recent being in 2011. This will also be her first try beyond 1m4f but she certainly wasn’t stopping over 1m4f last time and there is every reason to think she’ll be even better over this trip. Frankie rides and he’ll be looking for his sixth success in the race and his second for trainer John Gosden after the two teamed-up in 1996 with Shantou. I’ll take LAH TI DAR to live up to all the hype and hit the right St Leger notes!
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