2021 St Leger Trends

The Cazoo-sponsored St Leger is the oldest of the five British flat racing Classics, as well as the longest in trip at Doncaster racecourse. Run over a distance of 1m6f and for 3 year-olds only this contest is targeted by horses that ran in that season’s Great Voltigeur, with 8 of the last 19 winners having ran in that York race before winning this, while in recent years with seen 8 winning favourites in the last 19 runnings.

Look out for John Gosden-trained horses as this powerful Newmarket stable has won the race four times in the last 19 years, while top Irish handler – Aidan O’Brien has saddled the winner of the St Leger six times, including 3 of the last 8 seasons with Leading Light, Capri and Kew Gardens. Also note any Godolphin-owned entries as they these famous blue silks have won the final English Classic of the season a staggering six times!

Here at RACING AHEAD we’ve got all the key stats ahead of the 2021 renewal – this year run on Saturday 11th September.

Recent St Leger Winners

2020 – Galileo Chrome (4/1)
2019 – Logician (5/6 fav)
2018 – Kew Gardens (3/1)
2017 – Capri (3/1 fav)
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 Leger Trends

17/19 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
16/19 – Had 2 or 3 previous career wins
16/19 – Had never raced at Doncaster before
15/19 – Placed favourites
15/19 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
14/19 – Had won a Group race before
14/19 – Had won over at least 1m3f before
13/19 – Had 4 or 5 previous runs that season
12/19 – Winning distance of 1 length or more
12/19 – Drawn in stall 5 or higher
12/19 – Had never raced over 1m6f or further before
11/19 – Officially rated 109 to 115
11/19 – Won last time out
8/19 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
8/19 – Ran in the Great Voltigeur last time out (3 won it)
5/19 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
4/19 – Trained by John Gosden
4/19 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori (5 wins in total)
3/19 – Ran in the Gordon Stakes last time out (2 won it)
3/19 – Won by a Godolphin-owned horse (6 wins in total)
2/19 – Ridden by William Buick
2/19 – Ridden by Andrea Atzeni
2/19 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/19 – Winners from stall 1
Godolphin have won the race 6 times
Aidan O’Brien has trained 6 winners of the race
The average winning SP in the last 19 years is 7/1

Here are some of the key St Leger trends……………

Trip Advisor – With the St Leger run over a trip of 1m6f, this is likely to be the first, or only the second, time these Classic generation of 3 year-olds have run over this sort of distance. With that in mind, there is an element of the unknown to whether some of these horses can get home. However, many also improve for the step up in trip and often leave past form behind. It’s also worth noting that 14 of the last 19 winners had at least won over 1m3f or further though. However, with 12 of the last 19 winners – including the last two winners – having never raced over this 1m6f trip, then those horses stepping up in distance should not be discounted.  

Bookie v Punter – It’s actually not been a bad race for the market leaders in recent years. We’ve seen eight winning favourites in the last 19 renewals (42%), with Logician (2019) being the most recent favourite to win the race. Plus, a massive 15 of the last 19 (79%) jollies were placed. With the average winning SP in the last 19 renewals being 7/1, then the bulk of recent St Leger winners still come from nearer the top than the bottom of the market. 12 months ago the favourite – Santiago (5/2 fav) – was unplaced, but the winner – Galileo Chrome – was still the third best in the market.

Fitness First – Having had a recent run is certainly another positive to note. Horses that have had two or three previous career wins have won 16 of the last 19 runnings, while 13 of the last 19 had run between 4 or 5 times that season. With a massive 17 of the last 19 (89%) winners also having finished in the top three in their most recent run, then coming here off the back off a solid effort is another trend to have on side. 

Draw Bias – Okay, the St Leger is run over a trip of 1m6f, so you’d think the draw wouldn’t really matter. However, many will argue that’s not the case! Seemingly, having a good early position and saving energy has been key. This is backed-up with 12 of the last 19 winners (63%) hailing from stalls 5 or higher.

Stable Diet – I’ve already touched on the excellent record of the Aidan O’Brien yard in the race – they will be looking for their seventh success and have won three of the last eight. While, with four wins since 2007, then trainer John Gosden, who was also responsible for the 2019 winner, is another top yard to note. Of the rest, the ‘boys in blue’ of Godolphin have a fine record too – winning six St Legers, but the last of those now came back in 2012.

Track Form – Don’t be too worried if your fancy hasn’t raced at Doncaster before as a massive 16 of the last 19 winners hadn’t either. Doncaster is an uncomplicated track, with a long straight so will suit most staying horses anyway.

Group Class – With the St Leger being a Group One contest, then it goes without saying having shown a decent level of form in Group contests in the past helps. This is further backed-up with 14 of the last 19 winners having won a Group race before heading here. But last year’s winner was only a winner at Listed level prior to stepping up significantly in class to land the St Leger.

Top Trials – The St Leger is the final of the five English Classics and being run towards the end of the season then there have been many races before this to prime horses up for this. The main trials to note over the years have been the Gordon Stakes (Glorious Goodwood, 29th July) and the Great Voltiguer Stakes (York, 18th Aug). Both these races are always worth a look back on – not only the winners, but those that ran well in-behind too. In the last 19 years, we’ve seen 11 St Leger winners that had previous run in one of those mentioned trial races. 

In summary, like most years, we can expect the Aidan O’Brien yard to have a strong hand as they eye their seventh win in the St Leger. We’ll have to wait until a bit nearer the time to see their final entries, but this year is also shaping up to be another ‘blue year’ with the Godolphin camp seemingly having two leading chances to go to war with their Irish and French Derby hero – Hurricane Lane – and also their Epsom Derby winner – Adayar – who will be looking to become the first domestic Derby winner to also win the St Leger since Reference Point did the double in 1987!

RACING AHEAD VERDICT: Onto the main event and the final of the five English Classics of the season for these 3 year-olds. It’s a race the Aidan O’Brien, Godolphin and John Gosden yards have dominated in recent years, and it could be more of the same this season. O’Brien has four of the 10 entries – The Mediterranean, Sir Lucan, Interpretation and High Definition – all four are actually closely matched on the ratings and as we know O’Brien is no stranger to winning these big Classics with one of his second or third strings – having won two of the last four runnings, then these Ballydoyle runners are always going to be popular. We’ve also two other Irish raiders in the race – Fernando Vichi for Donnacha O’Brien and Ottoman Empire for Johnny Murtagh. The last-named was a gutsy winner of the Gordon Stakes last time out at Goodwood – having Sir Lucan ½ length back in second. He’s an improving middle-distance performer, but I’m just not totally sure this step up to 1m6f will suit. Epsom Derby runner-up Mojo Star will be popular too – he’s since won well at Newbury but was entitled to at odds of 1/6 there. He looks the sort to improve over this longer trip too and is sure to go well. But even though HURRICANE LANE was third in the Derby – behind Mojo Star – you feel that his Godolphin horse has improved a lot more since that day on the Downs. He’s gone onto win the Irish and French Derby and the last of those at Longchamp was an impressive 6 length win. He’s up to 1m6f for the first time here, but that last run gives you every indication he’ll stay this extra 2 furlongs – he’s taken to give Godolphin their seventh win in this Classic and their first since Encke in 2012.  Of the rest, both SCOPE, who represents the Ralph Beckett yard who won this in 2015, and YOUTH SPIRIT ran fair races to be 5th and 3rd in the Great Voltigeur at York last time out – that race is a decent trial for this and both could easily improve for the step up in trip.

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