The St Leger Stakes
What You Need to Know
- The St Leger is one of the oldest and most prestigious events on the British racing calendar.
- The race takes place at the Doncaster Racecourse every September and is the highlight of the five-day Ladbrokes St Leger festival of racing. This year it will take place on the 9th of September.
- Following on from the 2,000 Guineas and then the Derby, the St Leger is the final leg of the English Triple Crown of racing, though few horses even come close to achieving the famous treble.
- A prize purse of over £650,000 is on offer, with the winner taking just under £400,000, making it one of the most lucrative of the Group 1 flat races.
- Getting to Doncaster to see the action in person is very easy. As well as good road links, the famous course is also well-connected by train to the rest of the country
- St Leger day is one of the busiest days for bookmakers. If you fancy having a flutter on the action, get online and sign up for a sports betting account. This way you can enjoy the best selection of bets and the most competitive odds.
- If you do want to bet, be sure to do your homework first. Knowing things like few horses have ever won the St Leger after a quiet season can help improve your chances of beating the bookie.
A Quick Overview
The St Leger Stakes (also known as simply the St Leger) is one of the biggest events in the UK racing calendar. Taking place at Doncaster each September, it's a Group 1 flat horse race open to horses aged three years and older.
The St Leger is the final leg of the English Triple Crown, following the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby, though horses rarely attempt to win all three. Thanks to its pedigree, the race attracts huge crowds, with a whole five-day festival of racing built around it, and it's also massively popular with sports betting fans.
History of the St Leger
The St Leger dates back to the year 1776, making it the oldest of Britain's five Classics and one of the oldest horse races taking place anywhere in the world.
The race was devised and organised by Anthony St Leger, a politician who lived close to Doncaster. In its early days, the race was open to both colts and geldings and run over a course of two full miles.
In the year 1800, the distance was shortened to 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 193 yards, the length it remains today, and then, in 1906, the next major development came when it was closed to geldings. Since this final change, the St Leger Stakes has remained much the same over the past century and it is now widely-regarded as one of the most important sporting events taking place anywhere in Europe.
The Race Today
These days, the St Leger takes place at the famous Doncaster Racecourse each September. Just as it has been for more than a century, the race is run over a left-handed turf course precisely 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 193 yards long and is open to three-year-old horses, though not to geldings. A prize purse of over £650,000 is on offer, with the winner taking just under £400,000, making it one of the most lucrative of the Group 1 flat races.
As you might expect, the St Leger is massively popular with racing fans and a true highlight of the British racing calendar. The big event itself is now just part of the four-day Ladbrokes St Leger Festival, which includes not only racing, but also live music and other entertainment. The St Leger Stakes itself then takes place on the Saturday, with the runners cheered on by capacity crowds.
As well as being popular with racing fans, the St Leger is also hugely popular with sports betting fans, particularly now that you no longer have to go to Doncaster or even the high street bookmakers to have a flutter on the action.
Getting to the Race
Getting to Doncaster Racecourse to watch the St Leger Stakes in person is very easy to do, whether you're travelling by public transport or by car. Tickets for all days of the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival are available through the official website and you should book them well in advance, especially if you want good seats in the main enclosures.
- If you're travelling by car, then you will find Doncaster racecourse just off Junction 32 of the M1 and Junctions 3 and 4 of the M18. From the motorway, you will simply need to follow the signposts and these will bring you straight to the racecourse, where you will also be able to find plenty of parking.
- By train, Doncaster station is on the main London-Edinburgh line, meaning it has excellent connections to and from destinations across the country. Once you arrive into Doncaster station, you will be able to make use of regular free shuttle buses to the racecourse.
For more information on getting to Doncaster to see the St Leger in person, visit the official Doncaster website, where you will also be able to buy your tickets.
Betting on the St Leger
The St Leger is great for betting, even if you've never had a bet on a horse before. The extra-long distance of the race adds to the drama, with the physical demands of the event meaning that some of the best thoroughbreds sit it out, making for an open field.
If you can't make it to the race in person, then you should open an online betting account and bet on the St Leger this way. Betting online means you have the very best selection of betting markets to choose from, plus it's quick and easy to shop around for the best odds. Check out this guide to the best online sports betting sites on the internet right now and take advantage of some fantastic opening offers, including cashback on your first bet.
As with all races, the St Leger can be unpredictable and even the best experts struggle to pick a winner. That said, there are some things you should bear in mind before you put down any money. For example, you should take into account:
- Nearly all recent winners have gone into the St Leger in top form. In fact, most of the last dozen winners have finished in the top three of the race they took part immediately before running at Doncaster.
- Also, most winners go into the St Leger on the back of a busy season. Very few winners have won after running in three or fewer races in the same season.
- Due to the physical demands, runners will hardly ever compete in both the Derby and the St Leger in the same season, so steer clear of making this double.
- The Great Voltiguer Stakes has a history of being a good indicator of how the St Leger will go, so keep an eye on results from this race before you put any money on events at Doncaster.
Facts and Records
- Very few horses go into the St Leger with a realistic chance of winning the famous Triple Crown. One notable exception was Camelot, who won the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby but then finished second in the 2012 St Leger.
- The St Leger has always been held at Doncaster, with a few notable exceptions. During World War I, for example, it was held at Newmarket, and then it moved around during World War II. More recently, it was held at York Racecourse in 2006, a year when Doncaster was being renovated.
- Unsurprisingly, the race has been copied right around the world. European variations include the German, Italian, and Irish St Leger races, as well as the Prix Royal-Oak in France.
- No jockey has ridden more winners than Bill Scott. He won the race on 9 separate occasions between 1821 and 1846.
- Masked Marvel holds the race record for the fastest time. He finished the 2011 St Leger in 3 minutes, 00.44 seconds.
- Fancy watching the action in person? Check out the official website of the Doncaster Racecourse and plan your visit.
- If you want to have a bet on the action, you should be sure you know what you're doing. Become an instant expert with the help of our guide to betting on horses.