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The St Leger is one of the UK's leading races and the Group One highlight is the fifth and final Classic of the season.

The race is the third leg of the 'Triple Crown' and it is Doncaster's leading race fixture.  We have expert horse racing tips for the feature contest and we'll be looking to find the winner of this year's showpiece.

2017 St Leger tips - 12/1 shot to back

Our expert takes a look at the ante-post betting for the final Classic of the season at Doncaster and provides readers with his expert tips.

The third and final Classic of the season takes place later this month, as Doncaster Racecourse invites a capacity crowd to enjoy the 241st renewal of the St Leger. Some of the greatest horses in the history of the sport have come to Doncaster and claimed victory in this one mile, six furlong contest, including Gay Crusader, Gainsborough and Nijinsky – the last three horses to claim the fabled triple crown of British Classics.

Crystal Ocean (7/2 William Hill) currently leads the way in the ante-post betting, despite not featuring in either of the first two legs of the triple crown – the 2000 Guineas or the Derby. Sir Michael Stoute’s charge won easily on his debut at Nottingham before heading to York for the Dante. He was drifting like a barge in the betting before that famous Derby Trial, with punters deciding the good-to-soft ground would be too soft for him to cope with.

The Sea The Stars progeny proved his doubter wrong that day, staying on well to take third. Despite this, Stoute decided to skip the Derby and target the King Edward VII Stakes, where he finished third behind Permian once again. Crystal Ocean threw his name into the St Leger reckoning with an excellent victory at Glorious Goodwood and that comfortable, three-and-a-half length victory in the Gordon Stakes was enough to see him shoot to the head of the betting.

Goodwood was the scene of Big Orange’s triumphant return to action following his stunning triumph in the Ascot Gold Cup. Frankie Dettori had a third Goodwood Cup firmly within his sights, until Andrea Atzeni and Stradivarius (8/1 Ladbrokes) cruised past the leader on the inside and to score an impressive victory.

John Gosden’s colt kicked off his campaign with a handicap victory and a strong, weight-carrying second during the spring, before travelling to Royal Ascot as a 14/1 outsider in the Queen’s Vase. He was smashed into 11/2 before the off at Ascot and he rewarded those faithful punters by powering to a maiden pattern race victory. He proved his quality during those two festival triumphs and there is no doubting he has the stamina to conquer the St Leger.

Another to have progressed from handicapper to Classic contender is Defoe (5/1 bet365), who has enjoyed a bountiful three-year-old campaign. Two commanding victories in televised handicaps at Newbury and York prompted Roger Varian to throw his charge into Listed company at Hamilton, where Andrea Atzeni’s mount comfortably saw off Frankuus to win the Glasgow Stakes.

The Dalakhani progeny then stepped beyond 11 furlongs for the first time in the Group Three Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury. The 13/8 favourite made serene progress through the field over the final furlong, holding strong on the inside rail to repel the attentions of Wall Of Fire and ensure he brought an unbeaten seasonal record with him to Doncaster.

Crystal Ocean (left) blasting clear to win the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

Aidan O’Brien has claimed the St Leger title on four occasions since the turn of the millennium and he will be expecting Capri (4/1 William Hill) to put in another encouraging showing. A Group Two winner during his two-year-old campaign, Capri spent the early part of the season losing out to his stablemates in Derby trials. He performed well in the main event at Epsom, passing the post four lengths behind Wings Of Eagles in sixth, before returning to Ireland to take part in the Irish Derby.

Cracksman was the overwhelming favourite to win at the Curragh and many thought he would easily pass Capri at the head of the field. However, Aidan O’Brien’s colt produced an excellent display to keep Cracksman at bay and land the second Irish Classic. He’s likely to employ the same front-running tactics at Doncaster and, if the ground is favourably juicy, he could be very difficult to pass.

He’s likely to be accompanied by stablemates Venice Beach (12/1 Ladbrokes) and Douglas Macarthur (40/1 William Hill), but they sit a little further down the betting than the Irish Derby winner. Venice Beach was impressive when winning the Chester Vase during the spring but really struggled during the Derby. Cracksman was a class above his rivals in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, but Venice Beach finished well to pass the post second. 

Douglas Macarthur beat Capri to the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial before making the trip to Epsom. He was the pace setter in the Derby and did well to hold on for sixth as the leaders swallowed him up. A fifth place finish in the Irish Derby was followed by a fourth in the Great Voltigeur, so it’s unlikely he will be a factor in this high-quality field.

Rekindling (12/1 bet365) is also likely to make the trip over from Ireland to challenge for the St Leger. Joseph O’Brien’s colt was the surprise 16/1 winner of the Ballysax Stakes, but couldn’t recreate that excellent winning run in the Derby. A victory over Wicklow Brave and an eye-catching runner-up finish behind Order Of St George in high-profile, 14-furlong races mean he comes to Doncaster in good form and he’s likely to attract plenty of each-way attention.

Brian Meehan’s Raheen House (12/1 Coral) finished between Shutter Speed and the all-conquering Enable on his reappearance, before finishing third as Khalidi won the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood. A strong late surge saw Jamie Spencer’s mount claim the fourth and final place in the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot, before enforcing his St Leger credentials with a dominant victory in the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket’s July Festival.

Count Octave (25/1 bet365) caught the eye when finishing fourth from a poor draw in the Chester Vase. He was unlucky to lose out to Stradivarius by a neck in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, but he was convincingly beaten into second by Call To Mind on his latest outing in the Listed Revival March Stakes at Goodwood.

Stradivarius (centre, yellow cap) and Count Octave (third left, all red) battling for the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot.

Coronet (7/1 bet365) will be hoping to emulate Oh So Sharp, the last filly to win the St Leger, when she makes the trip to Doncaster. After storming to the Ribblesdale title at Royal Ascot, she has twice been beaten by stablemate Enable, but considering the strength of the winner, fourth and second place finishes in the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks are decent pieces of form. She should enjoy the predicted soft ground at the weekend, but stamina is the big question mark next to this talented filly's name.

Stradivarius and Defoe have both risen in the ratings by 22 pounds since the start of the season and have to be respected. However, Defoe hasn't come up again this kind of opposition before and Stradivarius has been drifting like a barge since the rains came and since Frankie Dettori chose to ride Coronet instead. Capri is clearly a talented colt and Crystal Ocean has bags of potential, but there is plenty of value to be found in this top quality renewal and the one who appeals most at their current price is REKINDLING.

Joseph O’Brien has always spoken very highly of this colt and he was surprised when he performed so poorly in the Derby. An excellent victory over favourite and dual-purpose star Wicklow Brave in the Curragh Cup not only announced a return to form, but also he was a serious contender for the St Leger.

He was easily beaten by Order Of St George in the Irish St Leger Trial, but we all know how good the former Ascot Gold Cup winner is and Rekindling still had enough about him to leave the likes of Wicklow Brave and Renneti trailing some four lengths in his wake. 

He will be a big danger if he does return to England for the third time this season and battle for this Classic title. The four ahead of him in the betting are impressive, but he boasts form that stacks up against any of them. Joseph O'Brien won the St Leger as a jockey back in 2013. Now, he has an excellent chance to claim his first British Classic as a trainer.

16/9/2017 3:35pm Doncaster St Leger selection – REKINDLING each-way (12/1 bet365)


The St Leger Stakes is the oldest of the five British Classics (completed by the 2000 Guineas, the 1000 Guineas, the Derby and the Oaks), and was first won way back in 1776 by Allabaculia. In 1778 it was first run at Town Moor (Doncaster), and has been run there ever since. Originally run over two miles, it was shortened to one mile and six furlongs in 1813, a distance that tests the stamina of the three year olds.

Historically, the St Leger has been a great source of sires for National Hunt (jumps) racing. The stamina and bravery required to win the race are qualities much desired by jumps breeders, and winning colts can look forward to an increased demand at stud. Currently past St Leger winners such as Milan, Millenary, Scorpion, Brian Boru and Shantou are all standing as National Hunt stallions with much success (Milan has sired Champion Hurdle winner Jezki amongst many other Grade One performers).

the final leg of the triple crown

It is also a race which is famous for being the third leg of the ‘Triple Crown’, a title given to any horse who completes the Classic treble of the 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the St Leger. To win the Triple Crown, horses must be precocious enough to win the 2000 Guineas over a mile a Newmarket in May, possess the balance and class to take the Epsom Derby in June, and the stamina and endurance to take the St Leger in September. Given the unique test it presents, it will come as no surprise to hear that the last horse to achieve the feat was Nijinsky back in 1970 (the great mare Oh So Sharp won the female version – the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger - in 1985). In recent times, Camelot (trained by Aidan O’ Brien) attempted to complete the Triple Crown, but failed by just three quarters of a length to overhaul Encke for their rivals Godolphin.


The St Leger tends to favour late developing types, and not many winners make their two year old debut before August, with some horses not racing as a two year old at all. That said, class is definitely a requirement for winners, with winners almost always having achieved at least a placing in a Group race before St Leger victory. Plenty of winners have come from either the English or Irish Derbys, with placed horses in those races often being aimed at the St Leger. 

Stamina is also a major component of winning the St Leger. At one mile and six furlongs, it is a long way removed from the six and seven furlong races that populate the majority of the racing calendar. As such, not many horses are even bred to be suited by such a test. One should look for horses by sires with proven stamina over at least one mile and four furlongs (Derby winners are a good place to start). 

The majority of St Leger winners have already won over at least one mile and four furlongs before they arrive at Doncaster.

As regards trainers, John Gosden and Aidan O’ Brien are the two with the best recent record. Scorpion, Brian Boru, Milan and Leading Light are all recent winners for Aidan O’ Brien, and it is no coincidence that those horses were mentioned above as successful National Hunt stallions, with the ties to the Coolmore breeding operation. John Gosden also has an impressive record, with Arctic Cosmos and Masked Marvel counting among his more recent winners (Masked Marvel also holds the record for the fastest St Leger time).

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