Friday, 9 September 2011

Can History Repeat Itself in the World's Oldest Classic Race?

British horseracing is steeped in history, but no Classic race can claim an older heritage than the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster Racecourse which was first established in 1776 and celebrates its 225th running on Saturday 10 September 2011.
What’s more, time and time again we can draw parallels with previous races in the elusive search for the next winner, for the St Leger has a happy habit of being won by previously successful jockeys and trainers. It’s just a matter of finding the right one.

During its history, the race has been won on 16 occasions by the same trainer, nine times by the same jockey and seven times by the same owner but never twice by the same horse. This is for the simple reason that the St Leger, being one of the five British Classics, is restricted to horses that are three years old.

This year’s race, which forms part of the all-important QIPCO British Champions Series, is likely to be contested by nine trainers, jockeys or owners who’ve enjoyed success in previous years.

Brown Panther winning the The King George V
Stakes at Royal Ascot

Amongst the training ranks, Sir Michael Stoute, John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien have already celebrated a St Leger victory with the latter having won it on three occasions to date. Amongst the jockeys, William Buick, Jamie Spencer and Frankie Dettori have all tasted victory, with Frankie notching up five victories in previous St Legers. Certain owners have also proved luckier than others over the years, with Godolphin, Coolmore and Khalid Abdulla each having collected the trophy on at least one occasion.

Look back through the decades and you’ll see history repeating itself again and again. The great Lester Piggott won the race on eight occasions; Gordon Richards five times; and Fred Archer four times. Legendary trainers Dick Hern and Sir Henry Cecil have lifted the prize nine times between them.

From an historical perspective, the horses with the greatest chance of victory this year have to be: Blue Bunting, owned by Godolphin and ridden by Frankie Dettori; Sea Moon, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and owned by Khalid Abdullah; or one of Aidan O’Brien’s runners for Coolmore.

Who will win the Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes? To find out make sure you watch the Group One race on Channel 4 at 3.10pm today.

After the St Leger Stakes there is only one more race in the British Champions Series at Newmarket on the 23rd September before the grand finale here at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday 15th October.

For more information on British Champions Day and to book tickets visit

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