English horse racing is known around the world for having some of the most prestigious events. The British Classics are a collection of five races held during the flat racing season and are made up of the 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, The Oaks, The Derby, and the St Leger Stakes.
These Group 1 races are exclusively for three-year-old horses and allow the best horses in their age group to showcase their talents.
The St Leger is the oldest of these races and is the final race in September. The other races are held from late April to June.
The St Leger Stakes is an annual race held every September. The 2023 St Leger will be held on Saturday, September 16th. The race is open to three-year-old fillies and colts and is run over 1 mile, 6 furlongs, and 115 yards.
The race is held at turf-surfaced, left-handed Doncaster Racecourse. The set weight conditions for the race are 8 stone 12 pounds for fillies and 9 stone 1 pound for colts.
The St Leger Stakes is a televised event shown on ITV and RTV and had a prize money purse of over £786,000 in 2022. The winner of the race, Eldar Eldarov ridden by David Egan, received £445,741.
The St Leger Stakes is the showpiece race for the St Leger Festival that will run from Thursday, September 14th to Sunday, September 17th. The event, which had been sponsored by William Hill since 2017, will be sponsored by Betfred this year, and tickets for St Leger day start from £21.
The History of the St Leger Stakes
The St Leger Stakes was first run on the 24th of September 1776. The race was created by Anthony St Leger, a politician and army officer. The first race was held at Cantley Common, was a two-mile distance, and was initially called the ‘Sweepstake of 25 Guineas’.
The first winner of St Leger was a filly that was later named Allabaculia, while the event also had a name change in 1778 to the St Leger Stakes that we know today. The race also moved to Town Moor in the same year and has been present there ever since (apart from brief changes during WW1 and WW2).
An issue with Doncaster Racecourse in 1989 saw the race being held in Ayr, Scotland. In 2006, redevelopment saw the race being held in York.
The distance of the race was altered to 1m, 6f, and 193 yards in 1813 and has remained relatively similar since.
Jogn Scott holds the title of most St Leger Stakes wins for a trainer with a total of 16 victories between 1827 and 1862. The jockey with the most wins also happens to be the brother of John Scott. Bill Scott won the race 9 times between 1821 and 1846.
The betting industry has long benefitted from high-profile races like the St Leger Stakes with on-course betting, off-track betting, and online betting options providing a range of ways customers can place a wager.
Punters that like a long shot will be hopeful for a repeat of the 1822 St Leger Stakes when the 200/1 outsider Theadore won! The 2023 St Leger Stakes already has its favourites that you can see below. However, none have odds as short as the 1897 winner Galtee More, who proved the experts right when it won at 1/10.
Looking Ahead to the 2023 St Leger Stakes
At present, there are 39 entries for the race with jockeys, final declarations, and confirmations still to take place. These horses include:
- Adelaide River
- Artistic Star
- Canberra Legend
- Castle Way
- Covent Garden
- Desert Hero
- Etna Rosso
- Lion’s Pride
- Military Order
- Peking Opera
- Rubis Vendome
- Salt Bay
- St Vincents Garden
- The Prairie
- Tower Of London
- Up And Under
- Valiant King
- Be Happy
- Boogie Woogie
- Lumiere Rock
- Warm Heart
According to many bookmakers in a list of sites from bettingsites.co.uk, the current favourite for the 2023 St Leger Stakes is Gregory. The 3-year-old colt is currently unbeaten and comes from the breeder Normandie Stud Ltd. Current trainers John and Thady Gosden are confident this impressive horse can maintain its good form and perform well in the race.
Other popular choices among top-rated bookies are second and third favourites Savethelastdance and Tower of London. Savethelastdance’s Irish Oaks win will give this horse the confidence to push on, while Tower of London’s disappointment in the Bahrain Trophy gives its team the chance for redemption.
Fans of a long shot might fancy an each-way punt on the filly Amusement or colt Up and Under with both offering odds of 100/1 in some bookmakers.
The peak age for flat racing horses is typically around 4 to 5, so The St Leger Stakes gives racing fans the opportunity to see the next generation of champions just before they hit their prime.
With an undefeated record and sitting as the current favourite, this could be the race that propels Gregory from potential to true stardom. However, with such an impressive favourite, it does give punters a great opportunity to find value in the field.
Many will be keeping an eye on the latest horse racing news to hear which jockeys will be riding in the 2023 St Leger Stakes.