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Andrea Calo 24th Sep 2008 - 10:33

About the St Leger and St Leger betting

The final "Classic" race of the English flat racing season, the St Leger Stakes is a horse race for three-year-old colts and fillies. It is the longest of the five classics at one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards and is traditionally run at Doncaster Racecourse each September.

The St Leger is named after Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony St Leger, a soldier, sometime MP for Grimsby and ultimately Governor of St Lucia. Although the first race was organised by (and won by a horse owned by) the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, the leading patron of horseracing in Georgian England, the Marquess suggested it be named after his friend St Leger, who supposedly had the idea for the race.

The St Leger was first run as a two-mile race on Cantley Common, near Doncaster, in 1776, making it the oldest of the five English Classics. The race was moved in 1779 to Town Moor, which became its permanent base.

The race’s Yorkshire home, well away from the more traditional centres of English horseracing, came about because St Leger owned an estate called Park Hill nearby. The Park Hill Stakes, another big race run at Doncaster, is often referred to as the “fillies St Leger”.

The mile-and-three-quarters marathon and the event’s proximity to other big-money races like the Prix de l’Arc du Triomphe, the Irish Champion Stakes and the Breeder’s Cup means that few Guineas and Derby winners are risked in the race nowadays. The English Triple Crown of 2,000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger (for colts; 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger for fillies) may therefore never be won again.

St Leger betting odds can be fairly open, with the race’s length making it hard to pick a winner from the previous four classics. An ability to “stay on” in the closing furlongs of shorter races is taken to be a good indicator that a horse has the stamina to get round the 14 furlongs of the St Leger.

Four out of the last seven St Legers have been won by the favourite. Aiden O’Brien has trained three winners in that time – although fans of favourites and the Ballydoyle outfit would have been disappointed in 2008 when O’Brien’s Frozen Fire finished seventh to the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Conduit despite being sent off the 9/4 favourite.


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