(BEAT THE BANK) SADLY PASSED AWAY ON (SAT 13TH JULY 2019) (5 YEARS OLD) RIP BIG FELLA ALWAYS REMEMBERED.

Monday, September 05, 2022

St Leger Festival Preview

Cazoo St Leger Festival  Steeped in over 400 years of history, the Cazoo St Leger Festival is the world’s oldest classic. Founded in 1776 by Colonel Anthony St. Leger, the Cazoo St Leger Festival is the highlight of Doncaster’s year, acclaimed as the premier sporting occasion of the Autumn calendar.

The St Leger Stakes is a Group 1 flat horse race in Great Britain open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies. It is run at Doncaster over a distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 115 yards (2,921 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in September.

Established in 1776, the St Leger is the oldest of Britain's five Classics. It is the last of the five to be run each year, and its distance is longer than any of the other four. 

The St Leger is the final leg of the English Triple Crown, which begins with the 2000 Guineas and continues with the Derby. It also completes the Fillies' Triple Crown, following on from the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks. The St Leger has rarely featured Triple Crown contenders in recent decades, with the only one in recent years being the 2012 2,000 Guineas and Derby winner Camelot, who finished second in the St Leger.

The event was devised by Anthony St Leger, an army officer and politician who lived near Doncaster. It was initially referred to as "A Sweepstake of 25 Guineas", and its original distance was two miles. The rules stipulated that colts and geldings were to carry 8 st, and fillies would receive an allowance of 2 lb. 

The inaugural running was held at Cantley Common on 24 September 1776. The first winner was an unnamed filly owned by the event's organiser, the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham. The filly was later named Allabaculia.

The title St Leger Stakes was decided at a dinner party held in 1778 at the Red Lion Inn located in the Market Place, Doncaster, to discuss the coming year's race. It was suggested that it should be called the Rockingham Stakes in honour of the host, the Marquess of Rockingham, but the Marquess proposed that it should be named instead after Anthony St Leger.[1] That year the event was moved to its present location, Town Moor, in 1778.[2]

The race came to national prominence in 1800, when a horse called Champion registered the first Derby–St Leger double. Its length was cut to 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 193 yards in 1813, and despite some minor alterations has remained much the same ever since. The victory of West Australian in 1853 completed the first success in the Triple Crown.

The St Leger Stakes was closed to geldings in 1906. It was transferred to Newmarket during World War I, and the substitute event was called the September Stakes. It was cancelled in 1939 because of the outbreak of World War II, and the following year's edition was held at Thirsk in November. For the remainder of this period it was staged at Manchester (1941), Newmarket (1942–44) and York (1945).

The race was switched to Ayr in 1989 after the scheduled running at Doncaster was abandoned due to subsidence. The 2006 race took place at York because its regular venue was closed for redevelopment.

The St Leger Stakes has inspired a number of similar events around the world, although many are no longer restricted to three-year-olds. European variations include the Irish St. Leger, the Prix Royal-Oak, the Deutsches St. Leger and the St. Leger Italiano. Other national equivalents include the Kikuka-shō, the New Zealand St. Leger and the VRC St Leger.

Triple Crown 

In England, where the term Triple Crown originated with West Australian's three wins in 1853, it is made up of:

1)The 2,000 Guineas Stakes, run over 1m (1,609 metres) at Newmarket Racecourse in Newmarket, Suffolk

2) The Derby, run over 1m 4f and 10y (2,423 metres) at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Epsom, Surrey

3)The St Leger Stakes, run over 1m 6f and 132y (2,937 metres) at Town Moor in Doncaster, Yorkshire

Since the 2,000 Guineas was first run in 1809, fifteen horses (including three winners of substitute races at Newmarket during the First World War) have won the English Triple Crown. The most recent – and only winner since World War II – was Nijinsky, in 1970. For many years, it was considered unlikely that any horse would ever win the English Triple Crown again. In the winter of 2006/2007, however, trainer Jim Bolger was training his unbeaten colt Teofilo for the Triple Crown[1] and bookmaker William Hill plc was offering odds of only 12/1 against Teofilo winning the 2007 Triple Crown. The horse was withdrawn from the 2000 Guineas two days before the race after suffering a setback and never raced again.

Since Nijinsky, only Nashwan (1989), Sea the Stars (2009), and Camelot (2012) have won both the Guineas and the Derby. Between Reference Point in 1987 and Camelot in 2012, no Derby winner (not even the potential Triple Crown winners Nashwan and Sea the Stars) even entered the St. Leger. This reluctance to compete in the St. Leger is said to be because of the impact it would have on a horse's stud value in a market where speed is preferred to stamina. 

The other main supporting races of the Doncaster Festival are as follows :

Doncaster Cup

The Doncaster Cup is a Group 2 flat horse race in Great Britain open to horses aged three years or older. It is run at Doncaster over a distance of 2 miles 1 furlong and 197 yards (3,600 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in September.

The event was established in 1766, and it was originally called the Doncaster Gold Cup. It pre-dates Doncaster's St. Leger Stakes by ten years, and is the venue's oldest surviving race.[1] It was initially held at Cantley Common, and moved to its present location in 1776.

During the early part of its history the race was contested over 4 miles. It was shortened to 2 miles and 5 furlongs in 1825, and reduced to 2 miles and 2 furlongs in 1891. It was cut by another furlong in 1908, and restored to its previous length in 1927. 

The present system of race grading was introduced in 1971, and for a period the Doncaster Cup was classed at Group 3 level. It was promoted to Group 2 in 2003.

The Doncaster Cup is one of Britain's leading events for "stayers" – horses which specialise in racing over long distances. It is the final leg of the Stayers' Triple Crown, preceded by the Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup. The Doncaster Cup is the only British race where the winner has ballot-exempt entry to the Melbourne Cup.[2]

The race is currently held on the third day of Doncaster's four-day St. Leger Festival.

Sceptre Stakes 

The Sceptre Stakes is a Group 3 flat horse race in Great Britain open to fillies and mares aged three years or older. It is run at Doncaster over a distance of 7 furlongs and 6 yards (1,414 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in September.

The event is named after Sceptre, a successful filly foaled in 1899. Her victories included four Classics, concluding with Doncaster's St Leger Stakes.

The Sceptre Stakes used to be contested over 1 mile, and for a period it held Listed status. It was cut to 7 furlongs in 1993, and promoted to Group 3 level in 2011.[1]

The race is now staged on the opening day of Doncaster's four-day St. Leger Festival. 

May Hill Stakes

The event is named after May Hill, a successful filly whose victories included Doncaster's Park Hill Stakes in 1975. It was established in 1976, and was originally classed at Group 3 level. It was promoted to Group 2 status in 2003.

The May Hill Stakes is currently held on the second day of the four-day St. Leger Festival.

The leading horses from the race often go on to compete in the Fillies' Mile. The last to win both was Inspiral in 2021. 

Park Hill Stakes

The Park Hill Stakes is a Group 2 flat horse race in Great Britain open to fillies and mares aged three years or older. It is run at Doncaster over a distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 115 yards (2,922 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in September.

The event is named after Park Hill, an estate formerly owned by Anthony St. Leger, the founder of Doncaster's most famous race, the St. Leger Stakes. The Park Hill Stakes was established in 1839, and it was originally restricted to three-year-old fillies. 

The victory of Blink Bonny in 1857 provoked a riot among spectators who believed she had been dishonestly prevented from winning the previous day's St. Leger.[1]

The present system of race grading was introduced in 1971, and the Park Hill Stakes was initially given Group 2 status. It was opened to fillies and mares aged four or older and relegated to Group 3 level in 1991. It was promoted back to Group 2 in 2004.

The Park Hill Stakes is currently held on the second day of Doncaster's four-day St. Leger Festival. It is sometimes referred to as the Fillies' St. Leger. 

The Flying Childers 

The event is named after Flying Childers, a famous 18th-century racehorse bred at Carr House near Doncaster. It was established in 1967, and it was originally called the Norfolk Stakes. It was renamed when a different race became known as the Norfolk Stakes in 1973, and from this point it held Group 1 status. It was downgraded to Group 2 in 1979.

The Flying Childers Stakes is currently run on the third day of Doncaster's four-day St Leger Festival, the day before the St Leger Stakes

 Champagne Stakes 

The Champagne Stakes is a Group 2 flat horse race in Great Britain open to two-year-old colts and geldings. It is run at Doncaster over a distance of 7 furlongs and 6 yards (1,414 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in September.

The event was established in 1823, and it was originally open to horses of either gender. For a period it was contested over a mile, and it was shortened to 6 furlongs in 1870. It was extended to 7 furlongs in 1962, and restricted to male horses in 1988.

The Champagne Stakes is held during Doncaster's four-day St. Leger Festival, and it is currently run on the final day, the same day as the St Leger Stakes.

The leading horses from the race sometimes go on to compete in the following month's Dewhurst Stakes

Park Stakes 

The Park Stakes is a Group 2 flat horse race in Great Britain open to horses aged three years or older. It is run at Doncaster over a distance of 7 furlongs and 6 yards (1,414 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in September.

The event was established in 1978 and it used to be sponsored by Kiveton Park Steel. For a period the Kiveton Park Stakes was classed at Listed level and contested over 7 furlongs. It was promoted to Group 3 status in 1986, and extended to a mile in 1993. The word "Kiveton" was removed from its title in 1996.

The race reverted to 7 furlongs in 2003, and it was upgraded to Group 2 in 2004.

The Park Stakes is held during Doncaster's four-day St. Leger Festival. It is currently run on the final day, the same day as the St Leger Stakes

 Portland Handicap 

The Portland Handicap is a flat handicap horse race in Great Britain open to horses aged three years or older. It is run at Doncaster over a distance of 5 furlongs and 143 yards (1,137 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in September.

The event was established in 1855, and for a period it was known as the Portland Plate. The original course started opposite a coaching inn called Red House, and it featured a left-handed bend at about halfway. The race was later transferred to a straight course.

The Portland Handicap is held during Doncaster's four-day St. Leger Festival, and it is currently staged on the final day, the same day as the St Leger Stakes

(Selections will be posted through the week)

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