When you consider the toughest tests in all of Thoroughbred horse racing, the St. Leger Stakes in Great Britain certainly has to be one of the first that pops to mind. The pure length of the race and the fact that it comes near to the end of the long racing season makes it a true challenge for the three-year-old standout horses who undertake it. But it’s understandable that they do, considering the glory that goes to the winner and the financial reward due to the winner’s connections.
In addition to being one of the longest Group 1 stakes races in the world, the St. Leger Stakes also stands among the oldest, with the first edition being contested back in 1776. Held at the historic Doncaster Racecourse in Doncaster, England, the race has become the centerpiece of an entire four-day cultural event in the location known as Town Moor. On top of all that, the St. Leger Stakes also holds the honorific position as the final leg in British horse racing’s Triple Crown.
That means that, on years when a horse has won the two legs, the entire nation turns to the St. Leger Stakes to see if it can complete the rare accomplishment of winning all three. Even if the Triple Crown isn’t up for grabs, however, the attention paid to the race is still impressive, both throughout England and the entire world. And much of that attention comes in the form of St Leger Stakes betting, whether it is being done on site or via the world of online horse racing wagering.
St. Leger Stakes History
Anthony St. Leger was well-known back in the late 1770s both for his work in the British army and for his political efforts. But it was his enthusiasm for horse racing that would eventually gain him the greatest fame. He founded the first St. Leger Stakes in 1776 in an area known as Cantley Common and put up a purse of 25 guineas to attract the participants.
That first race was two miles long and was won by a filly that came to be known as Allabaculia. Two years later, the St. Leger Stakes was held for the first time at Town Moor, which is where it has stayed ever since, save for a few interruptions. Eventually, the distance was shortened to its current length of 2,921 meters, which works out to a little over a 1 ¾ miles, or one mile and six furlongs in horse racing parlance.
The current specifications for the St. Leger Stakes allow for all three-year-old colts and fillies to be eligible. It is a Group 1 flat race (meaning no jumps), and it carries a purse of 700,000 British Pounds. A grass surface prevails at Doncaster Racecourse, and the track is round. Finally, the race is held in September of each year, so it has become symbolic of the end of summer in Great Britain.
Different Locations of the St. Leger Stakes
There have been a few occasions when the St. Leger Stakes had to be moved from its normal location. Wars were the main reason this occurred. In the years 1915 through 1918, World War I forced the race to be moved to Newmarket Racecourse, which is also the location of the first leg of the British Triple Crown, the 2,000 Guineas Stakes. During those years, it was called the September Stakes.
The outbreak of World War II caused the longest interruption to the St. Leger Stakes in terms of its being held at Doncaster. There was no event in 1939 due to the beginning of the war. For the next six years, the race hopped around to a number of different tracks.
In 1989, the early part of the racing meet at Doncaster indicated issues with drainage, so the St. Leger was moved that year to Ayr. And in 2006, York took over as the host of the race due to remodeling at the Doncaster track. Doncaster has played the proud host of the race in all other years.
The Role of the St. Leger Stakes in the British Triple Crown
The St. Leger Stakes is actually the oldest of the three races that would eventually be designated as the ones to comprise the British Triple Crown. The Epsom Derby came a few years after, and then the 2,000 Guineas Stakes became the last to be inaugurated in 1809. At some point, horse racing enthusiasts realized that these were three prime races for three-year-olds and dubbed the achievement of winning all three the Triple Crown.
As far as how they are scheduled on the calendar, the 2,000 Guineas comes first in either late April or early May. After that, the Epsom Derby takes place in June, with the St. Leger Stakes rounding it out in September. That means that many horses have come to the St. Leger having won the first two and needing that final race to complete the feat, which has been done just 15 times throughout history.
Perhaps the reason that the Triple Crown is such a tough thing to manage is the fact that the British races included escalate in distance. The 2,000 Guineas is just a mile long, while the Epsom Derby is about 1 ½ miles. At approximately 1 ¾ miles, the St. Leger outstrips them all.
In this day and age, many horses aren’t bred for those long distances. For that reason, a race like the St. Leger can seem like an anomaly, and many three-year-olds might shy away from it. Still, as recently as 2012, a horse (Camelot) came into the race with a shot at the Triple Crown, only to come up just short.
The St. Leger Stakes holds the odd distinction of being the closing leg of two British Triple Crown series. Both the 2,000 Guineas Stakes and the Epsom Derby have races attached to them that are contested by fillies – the 1,000 Guineas Stakes and the Epsom Oaks, respectively. By contrast, the St. Leger has no such counterpart race for females.
As a result, it also serves as the closing leg for the filly Triple Crown since fillies are allowed to race in the St. Leger and have actually had much greater success in the race than in the 2,000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby. The filly Triple Crown has been completed nine times, most recently in 1985.
Famous St. Leger Stakes Races Through History
A horse named Champion won the St. Leger and then followed it up by winning the Epsom Derby, becoming the first horse to ever win these two races in the same year.
The Flying Dutchman won in 1849, and Voltigeur won in 1850, the latter by run-off after finishing in a dead heat with Russborough. In 1851, The Flying Dutchman beat Voltigeur in one of the most famous match races in British history.
West Australian won the St. Leger Stakes after winning the 2,000 Guineas Stakes and the Epsom Derby, becoming the first horse in British racing history to achieve the Triple Crown.
The filly Formosa’s win in the St. Leger followed up her wins in the 1,000 Guineas Stakes as well as the Epsom Oaks, making her the first to complete the Filly Triple Crown.
Flying Fox completed the Triple Crown by winning the St. Leger, matching the feat that his sire, Ormonde, had accomplished in 1886.
It’s a royal affair, as Diamond Jubilee, owned by the Prince of Wales, won the St. Leger.
Sceptre completed the Filly Triple Crown by winning the St. Leger. It was the end of a campaign that saw her win four of the five British Classics for three-year-olds, the only horse ever to do so.
1915, 1917, 1918
Pommern, Gay Crusader, and Gainsborough all completed the Triple Crown by winning the September Stakes at Newmarket, the wartime replacement for the St. Leger. Some racing historians dispute that these constitute actual Triple Crowns because of the way that the war affected racing during that time, thinning out the lists of top competitors and causing all three races to be held at the same track
Bahram retired undefeated through nine races after winning the St. Leger to complete the Triple Crown.
Hethersett, who was favored in the Epsom Derby but fell during a pileup with other horses, came back to win the St. Leger.
Nijinsky won the St. Leger and, in the process, completed the Triple Crown, the last to achieve the feat in Great Britain.
The filly Dunfermline, owned by Queen Elizabeth II, won the race in the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. She would win nine of ten career races.
Oh So Sharp completed the Filly Triple Crown by winning the St. Leger. No filly has accomplished this task since.
Conduit won the St. Leger Stakes. A month later, he would win the first of his two successive Breeders’ Cup Turf Classics.
Encke denied Camelot the chance of winning the Triple Crown by defeating him in the St. Leger. A year later, both Encke and his trainer were banned from racing because it was determined that the horse had been administered steroids. This caused an uproar in the St Leger Stakes betting community.
Recent St. Leger Stakes Results
Festivities Surrounding St. Leger Stakes
The St. Leger Stakes Festival, sponsored by bookmakers William Hill, is a four-day event culminated by the running of the race. Legends Day kicks it off with a race featuring many retired jockeys of great renown. Next up is Ladies Day, which features a best-dressed competition for the ladies in attendance.
Several top stakes races take place on Gentleman’s Day, which also includes many forms of entertainment for the fans to enjoy. The actual race is contested on the final day of the event, which also cultivates an extremely festive atmosphere among the large crowds.
Betting on the St. Leger Stakes Horse Race
The St. Leger Stakes is one of the most famous horse races in Great Britain. That is a country whose citizens are known to place a wager or two on horse races. But in reality, there is interest throughout the world in St Leger Stakes betting, which is why you should learn the basics so you can participate as well.
Where Can You Bet on the St. Leger Stakes?
On-site real money St Leger Stakes betting is permitted, of course, but only a small portion of those interested in the race are actually in attendance. Luckily, sites for St Leger Stakes betting online are everywhere. Choosing the right one for you depends on a number of personal preferences you might have.
Those specifications might be related to how your money is deposited and withdrawn. You also might want to seek out sites that offer incentives for horse players and the St. Leger Stakes in particular, possibly in the form of bonuses. It also might come down to your comfort level in navigating through the site in order to place your bets.
In the end, your best bet is to shop around until you feel entirely comfortable with a site. Once you do, you can make your St. Leger bets without hesitation. You can also feel free to look through our recommended St Leger Stakes betting sites for safe, reliable, and quality options for betting on the St. Leger Stakes.
What Kinds of Bets Can Be Made on the St. Leger Stakes?
If you are betting on this prestigious race, either online or elsewhere, you can break it down into two main categories: straight bets and accumulators. In simplest terms, a straight bet is one that involves just a single horse to either win or finish high up in the order of finish. Accumulators include multiple horses, sometimes over multiple races.
With a straight bet, you are generally looking at a single horse that you like and putting your money on them in some way. Accumulators pay off very well because they involve so many variables and can only be won if every part of the wager comes in correctly. You might choose your favorite bet based on the amount of money you want to spend and whether you’re looking for more of a sure bet or if you’re hoping for the big payoff.
What Strategies Work the Best for Betting the St. Leger Stakes?
Everyone with betting experience on horse races over time develops some kind of strategy for picking winners. If you are new to this experience, you should keep it simple. Look at how the horses have raced in the recent past to see if they are in fine form. You can find this information in a race program or online.
As you get more experienced real money St Leger Stakes betting, you can start to look into other factors, like the pedigree of the horses. With a race as long as the St. Leger Stakes, you need a horse who can handle the distance. The sire and dam of the horse should be ones that proved in their racing careers that they could run well in long races.
In addition, the jockey and the trainer often have a huge bearing on the outcome of a race. If you are stuck between choosing two horses, you can use the performances of the jockey or the trainer as a tie-breaker. Look for those who specifically have performed well in the St. Leger in the past.
St. Leger Stakes FAQ
What Jockey Has Won the Race the Most Times?
Bill Scott took home the St. Leger winner a record nine times in the 19th century.
What Trainer Won the Race the Most Times?
John Scott won an amazing 16 St. Leger Stakes as trainer. And if the name looks familiar, it’s because he was the brother of Bill Scott, the all-time leading jockey of the race.
Who Won the ST. Leger Stakes by the Widest Margin?
Never Say Die dominated the race in 1954 to win by a dozen lengths.
Who Was the Longest Shot to Ever Win the ST. Leger?
In 1822, Theodore won the race at incredible odds of 200-1.
Who Ran the Fastest Winning Time?
The fastest winning time in the history of the St. Leger Stakes belongs to Masked Marvel, who won the 2011 edition of the race in just a shade over three minutes (3:00.44).
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