Andy Newton looks at the key trends around the last Classic of the season at Doncaster
Trends expert runs his eye over the St Leger at Doncaster
Crazy I know, but as we move into September we are now entering the final few months of the turf Flat season – and it won’t be long before we turn our attention back to the hedge-hoppers!
That said, there is still plenty of unfinished business on the Flat to take care of with Champions Day at Ascot,plus the two autumn fixtures at Newmarket. However, before all that we’ve also got the final of the English Classics to deal with – the newly sponsored William Hill St Leger.
The oldest of the Classics, the St Leger was first staged in 1776 and ,therefore, has loads of history attached to it. In recent times the Triple Crown (2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby & St Leger) was last won by the talented Nijinsky (1970),but the Aidan O’Brien-trained Camelot came mighty close in 2012 after scooping the 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby before going down just ¾ of a length (2nd) in his Leger and Triple Crown bid.
Once again, though, we’ve not got a horse going for all three races this season, but we still look set for a decent renewal with the powerful John Gosden camp having another strong hand, while Aidan O’Brien, who has won this race four times before, also has a decent chance with his Irish Derby hero Capri.
The ‘boys in blue’ of Godolphin are another leading operation to look at as they’ve been successful six times in this race and are sure to fire a few bullets at the race, while the already mentioned John Gosden, has been responsible for four winners during his career – including three of the last 10. At this stage he’s got several entered with recent Goodwood Cup winner – Stradivarius – looking like his best hope.
In the‘punter v bookie’battle the contest has certainly favoured the backers in recent years with 6 of the last 15 favourites winning,and this is backed-up further with a staggering 12 of the last 15 market leaders making the frame.But the bookies gain a bit of revenge last year when 22/1 shot Harbour Law battled his way to success.
By far the biggest ‘standout’ stat in recent times is that 14 of the last 15 winners has won at least twice in their career already,but with most of the runners fitting the bill here the more significant trend is that 13 of the last 15 winners were placed in the top three last time out.
Looking at some of the other key stats, don’t be too worried if your fancy is yet to race over this 1m 6f (or further) trip as 10 of the last 15 winners hadn’t either,but do look for horses with proven Group form as 11 of the last 15 winners had won at that level previously.
The St Leger also has several leading trial races that have been a good guide in recent years. Having run in either the Great Voltigeur (23rd Aug, York), or the Gordon Stakes (5th Aug Goodwood) is significant with 9 of the last 15 St Leger winners having run in one of those contest before taking this – 4 of the last 15 (2 each) actually won one of those leading St Leger Trial races before going onto glory in the final English Classic.
It might sound odd, but despite being run over 1m 6f,the draw has also played a key role with 9 of the last 15 winners coming from stalls 5 or higher, while we’ve seen just 2 winners from stall one take the prize during that 15 year period. 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.
Finally, heading here race-fit is another fairly obvious statement to make,but also coming here in-form is vital. We’ve already mentioned that horses that finished in the top three in their last race are worth keeping on your side, but 8 of the last 15 (53%) actually won last time out, while 11 of the last 15 winners went to Doncaster with between 4 or 5 previous runs that campaign – backing-up the fitness and experience angle once again.
A lot can change between now and the race – this year run slightly later on September 16th, 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.
The clear favourite at this stage is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Capri, who landed the Irish Derby earlier this season, but the John Gosden camp are always feared in this race and their recent Goodwood Cup scorer – Stradivarius – was hugely impressive when beating Big Orange (albeit getting a fair amount of weight) that day over 2m and has now won four of his last 5 races.There should be more to come from this promising stayer, who looks a banker to be in the shake-up if making the final runners.
Recent St LegerWinners
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 LegerTrends
14/15 – Had 2 or 3 previous career wins 13/15 – Placed in the top 3 last time out 12/15 – Placed favourites 12/15 – Had never raced at Doncaster before 11/15 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting 11/15 – Had won a Group race before 11/15 – Had 4 or 5 previous runs that season 10/15 – Had never raced over 1m6f or further before 10/15 – Winning distance of 1 length or more 10/15 – Had won over at least 1m3f before 9/15 – Officially rated 109 to 115 9/15 – Drawn in stall 5 or higher 8/15 – Won last time out 6/15 – Ran in the Great Voltigeur last time out (2 won it) 6/15 – Winning favourites (1 joint) 4/15 – USA-bred winners 3/15 – Ran in the Gordon Stakes last time out (2 won it) 3/15 – Trained by John Gosden 3/15 –Won by a Godolphin-owned horse 3/15 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien 3/15 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori 2/15 – Ridden byWilliam Buick 2/15 – Winners from stall 1 Godolphin have won the race 6 times Aidan O’Brien has trained 4 winners of the race The average winning SP in the last 15 years is 8/1
Harbour Law wins last year’s St Leger