Andy New­ton looks at the key trends around the last Clas­sic of the sea­son at Doncaster

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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

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