A Guide to the St Leger

The St Leger Stakes at Doncaster is one the five ‘classics’ in British horse racing and one of the most important events in the sport. It’s been run since way back in 1776 and in the present day, it is a regular fixture in the month of September.

The race itself also forms part of the prestigious Triple Crown which starts in May with the 1000 Guineas in Newmarket. Although fewer horses are being put up for this particular gruelling treble, the St Leger is of huge interest in its own right.

Check these horse racing betting sites, if you want to bet on St Leger.

Origins

The very first edition of the race took place in 1776 and it was the brainchild of Anthony St Leger, a local politician who would lend his name to the new event. That initial race took place at Carnley Common and although, in the modern day, it is traditionally held at Doncaster racecourse, a number of alternative venues have played host over the years.

Ayr, Newmarket and York have all stepped in to cover for various reasons but the intended venue is Doncaster and that is set to be the case for the foreseeable future.

Format

The present day St Leger is a Group One Flat Race for three year old thoroughbred colts and fillies. It is run over one mile, six furlongs and 115 yards of the Doncaster Track with weight set at 9st 1lb with a 3lb allowance for fillies.

The race is the oldest of the five classics and the last to be held each year and, as we’ve already seen, it also forms the last leg of the Triple Crown. In 2017 there was a purse of £700,000 made available so it carries the type of prize money that has attracted some of the greatest horses, jockeys and owners over the years.

Records

We have to travel some way back in time to cover most of the records attached to the St Leger including that of leading jockey. This particular accolade belongs to the great Bill Scott who rode nine winners across a 25 year span from Jack Spigot in 1821 through to Sir Tatton Sykes in 1846.

The Leading Trainer is from the same era and, in fact, from the same family. Bill Scott’s brother John saddled no fewer than 16 St Leger winners starting with Matilda in 1827 and finishing with The Marquis in 1862.

As for the leading owner, we go back even further to the 9th Duke of Hamilton who produced the first of his winners in 1786 but there is one record that is far more up to date. This is, unsurprisingly, the mark for fastest winning time which is held by Masked Marvel, who went round in three minutes 00.44 seconds in 2011.

St Leger Festival

While the St Leger is undoubtedly the focal point of the meeting, it forms just part of an overall festival which is held over four days in mid-September. Starting on the Wednesday, there are seven races on the card including the Class One Scarborough Stakes over 5 furlongs.

Thursday showcases the Group Two William Hill May Hill Stakes and then on Friday, the focus for many will be on the Doncaster Cup Stakes.

There are some interesting renewals over all three days and it all builds up to Saturday which is St Leger day. It’s a historic event and definitely one for all punters to keep firmly in their diaries.