St. Leger Stakes Stats and Trends

With the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, Oaks, and Derby in the books for another year, only one shot at Classic glory remains for the most talented three-year-olds in training. First run way back in 1776, the St. Leger is the oldest Classic of them all and the only such race to take place in the north of England. Another distinctive characteristic of the race is that it is commonly contested by fillies and colts – unlike the Newmarket and Epsom events, which have fillies-only versions of their respective Classics.

1m6½f is the trip for the highlight of the season on Town Moor, bringing the staying power of the contenders firmly into play for the longest Classic race of the five. But other than stamina reserves, what does it take to prevail in one of the major late summer/early autumn highlights? Here, we look back at the results of the 23 editions from the 21st century, in an effort to pinpoint possible factors for success ahead of the 2023 edition, which takes place on the 16th of September.

Top Trainers

St. Leger Stakes Top Trainers

13 different trainers have won this race in the current century, but only four have done so more than once. It is no surprise at all that Aidan O’Brien leads the way, with six wins since the year 2000. Landing the prize for the first time with Milan in 2001, by 2005, he had increased that tally to three. A trio of successes followed in the 2010s, but O’Brien currently finds himself in a dry spell, with the most recent of his wins coming courtesy of Kew Gardens in 2018.

Having also won this race in 1996, John Gosden sits just one behind O’Brien, as does the 1995, 1998, and 1999 winner, Saeed bin Suroor. However, all three trainers have some way to go if they are to challenge the remarkable record of John Scott, who picked up an incredible 16 wins during the 1800s.

Top Jockeys

St. Leger Stakes Top Jockeys

Rarely out of the headlines in his farewell season, that man Frankie Dettori leads the way amongst the riders in the current century, with his four victories coming for four different trainers. Having also landed back-to-back renewals of this one in 1995 and 1996, Dettori has six wins in total, giving him comfortably the best record amongst active riders, but still leaving him three wins adrift of all-time leader Bill Scott – brother of top trainer, John Scott. Given their status as the retained riders to the powerful Godolphin and Ballydoyle operations, William Buick and Ryan Moore appear best placed to add to their tallies in the coming years.

Odds: How Often Does the Favourite Win?

Overall, the market has proven to be a solid guide to this race. When looking at the past 23 editions, 15 winners were priced at odds of 5/1 or shorter. Included in that number were 11 winning favourites, representing an excellent 47.83% strike rate for the jolly. Anyone placing a £1 level stakes bet on the market leader over this period would have achieved a profit of £6.49, equating to a healthy +28% Return on Investment.

As well as the favourite has performed, there have been a few shock results, including 22/1 shot Harbour Law, who prevailed in 2016 despite never having won at above handicapping level, and 25/1 outsider Encke, who denied Camelot his Triple Crown when relegating the Aidan O’Brien runner to second place in 2012.

Finishing Position on Previous Start

St. Leger Stakes Finishing Position on Previous Start

Given the solid performance of the market leader, it follows that this race most often goes to a runner with an obvious chance on paper. That theory is backed up when looking at the most recent racecourse performance of the victor. Since 2000, no horse has won this having finished outside of the first four on their previous outing, whilst just over 60% of the time, the race has fallen to an in-form contender arriving on the back of a win.

Key Form Races

St. Leger Stakes Previous Start of Winner

Interestingly, the majority of recent winners have headed into the race following a run in a 1m4f event. The Gordon Stakes, Grand Prix de Paris, and Irish Derby are all held over that distance. But the clear standout is the 1m4f Great Voltigeur Stakes at the York Ebor Meeting, which has provided nine of the past 23 winners. Of those nine, four had won the York contest, with the other five finishing in the placed positions.

In the past couple of years, the Grand Prix de Paris has emerged as a popular route into the race, with both Hurricane Lane (2021) and Eldar Eldarov (2022) arriving at Doncaster following a run in the French Classic. Of the nine races in the above table, only the Lillie Langtry Stakes and Queen’s Vase are run over this 1m6f trip.

Pedigree Pointers

St. Leger Stakes Leading Sires

A total of five sires have been responsible for more than one St. Leger winner in the current century, with Montjeu and Galileo leading the way on three wins apiece. There is an interesting relationship between four of the names on the above list, with Galileo and Montjeu being sons of Sadler’s Wells, and Frankel a son of Galileo.

Other Stats

  • Only 6 of the past 23 winners had previously won in Group 1 company
  • However, 18 of 23 had already won at Group 3 level or above
  • 17 of the past 23 winners were stepping up to this trip for the first time in their careers
  • 19 of 23 winners headed into the race with an Official Rating of 110 or above