BETTING industry expert Tommy Buckley (@tbuckleythinks) has taken an analytical look at the upcoming St Leger from Doncaster.
3:35 Doncaster | St Leger | Saturday 15th September, 2018 | ITV
For as long as I can remember, I've always been a big horse racing fan and I absolutely love a day out at the races.
I've experienced many great sporting events but a day at the races is as good as any, in my opinion. My love for horse racing was born from my family visits to Doncaster racecourse; my dad tells me my first St Leger was when Oh So Sharp won in 1985. So much fun was had by all and that's why Doncaster and St Leger Day will always be special to me.
I'm not exactly sure how many I've been to but I know I've only missed a maximum of five St Leger's since 1985 – that's not bad at all considering I got married on St Leger weekend. Indeed, when we went to Barbados to get married, the first piece of news I wanted from back home was who had won the St Leger!
Thankfully, it turned out that my ante-post bet for that year, Mutafaweq, had taken top honours and so I put the all-inclusive bar in the hotel to good use that night and celebrated with all the locals who were racing mad – the St Leger result was even on the local Barbados news!
I'm greatly looking forward to going to this year’s renewal and if we get anything like the vintage we were treated to last year with Capri beating the likes of Crystal Ocean, Stradavarius, Rekindling and Coronet, then all those on Town Moor on Saturday will be in for serious equine treat.
Here are a few St Leger facts and figures to consider, first looking at a breakdown of the starting prices of the winners and placed horses since 2000, then an overlook at those winners, and my thoughts on this year’s race of my favourite classic of the year.
Record of St Leger winners and places starting prices from 2000 to 2017:
- 2000 – Millenary | 11/4f | 3/1 | 40/1
- 2001 – Milan | 13/8f | 10/1 | 3/1
- 2002 – Bollin Eric | 7/1 | 10/1 | 13/8f
- 2003 – Brain Boru | 5/4f | 8/1 | 8/1
- 2004 – Rule Of Law | 3/1jf | 3/1jf | 6/1
- 2005 – Scorpion | 10/11f | 7/2 | 11/1
- 2006 – Sixties Icon | 11/8f | 50/1 | 4/1
- 2007 – Lucarno | 7/2 | 13/2 | 13/8f
- 2008 – Conduit | 8/1 | 14/1 | 11/4
- 2009 – Mastery | 14/1 | 9/4f | 7/2
- 2010 – Arctic Cosmos | 12/1 | 13/2 | 40/1
- 2011 – Masked Marvel | 15/2 | 15/2 | 2/1f
- 2012 – Encke | 25/1 | 2/5f | 10/1
- 2013 – Leading Light | 7/2f | 9/1 | 6/1
- 2014 – Kingston Hill | 9/4f | 13/2 | 11/2
- 2015 – Simple Verse | 8/1 | 2/1jf | 10/3
- 2016 – Harbour Law | 22/1 | 14/1 | 7/1
- 2017 – Capri | 3/1f | 5/1 | 9/2
St Leger Stats & Trends
- 10 of the last 18 winners of the St Leger have been priced 7/2 or under.
- 2000 to 2007 was a great time for punters with five very short-priced favourites winning along with two other well-backed, popular winners. Overall, six winners in that time were priced 7/2 or shorter.
- Bookmakers fought back between 2008 and 2012 – all five winners were 8/1 or bigger, including winners returned at 12/1, 14/1 & 25/1.
- In 2012 the bookmakers were saluting the victory of Encke at 25/1 as the red-hot 2/5f was only good enough for second.
- The 2010 St Leger produced a 12/1 winner followed by 13/2 and 40/1 places.
- Harbour Law carried my mum's £1 each-way bet to victory at huge odds in 2016 – it returned 22/1 but had been as big as 50/1 in the morning. Favourite backers were stung hard with odds-on shot Idaho unseating his jockey when coming up the Doncaster straight.
- 2016 was a great contest for the bookmakers overall with a 22/1 winner, 14/1 second and 7/1 third.
Analysis of the 2018 St Leger
I've already declared my long-time love for Doncaster and the St Leger. I'll be there again on Saturday to hopefully try to win the battle against the bookmakers and find the winner of what looks set to be a fascinating renewal.
Kew Gardens heads the market at the 5/4 mark and there is no doubting that Aidan O'Brien's star showed with his Royal Ascot win in the Queens Vase, and then winning so well in the Grand Prix De Paris, that he has a very strong form profile that has to be massively respected.
The prep run in the Great Voltigeur at York should have put Kew Gardens spot on for the St Leger; the distance, ground and course should suit him well and he will be very popular in the betting ring.
However, I'll personally only consider backing him if his price gets bigger on the day – 5/4 is too short for me, and others tempt me more right now at the prices.
Lah Ti Dar
John Gosden has the incredibly exciting Lah Ti Dar entered and although she's rumoured to be more likely to be running in France, her odds have been reducing in the last few days and she'd have to be regarded as a serious contender to respect if she lines up, again though the doubts about her running mean I can't back her now.
Old Persian comes into the St Leger after winning the Great Voltigeur at York – he's only lost once when beaten in the Irish Derby won by fellow St Leger contender Latrobe.
Connections believe he wasn't right that day and believe he's a major player for the St Leger, he's greatly respected but there are stamina concerns and he'll have to face Kew Gardens on revised terms.
Loxley is another Godolphin runner who has a very interesting profile and deserves to take his chance in the race after a very smooth win in France.
He was a 16/1 shot last week so clearly been the subject of support into 7/1 – if he lines up he might prove to be Godolphin's best option on the day as he'll have more improvement to come and the step up in trip could help as well. He could be interesting each-way if he does run on the day.
Latrobe wasn't a horse I was aware of until I watched him deservedly win the Irish Derby. He needed all of the one mile four furlongs that day but was doing his best work at the end so I don't understand the stamina doubts about him.
They ran him in the Juddmonte to assess what kind of trip suits him best – he wasn't quick enough over one mile two furlongs against the very best and I believe the St Leger trip will be good for him. I think he's a sound each-way contender for Joseph O'Brien at around 10/1 and I think that price will be shorter on the day.
Southern France is regarded in the betting as one of the Aidan O'Brien lesser lights at around 10/1 but I think there is a good case to say the St Leger trip will give him the chance to show his best. After all he ran very well in the race won by Kew Gardens at Ascot and in the Irish St Leger trial.
At around 10/1 Southern France looks an interesting each-way value option.
The betting verdict
With 16 declared for the St Leger, including one supplemented on Monday, the field at this stage looks very interesting and it makes for a fascinating puzzle for punters to solve.
I think puzzle is the right phrase to use as there are questions to answer or doubts surrounding all the runners, so I have to recommend waiting until we know the final line-up and the state of the ground before anything other than small stakes, fun bets are placed.
At this stage I'm going to go with two small each-way options on runners that I think may well go off shorter than their current odds, namely 11/1 shot Southern France for Aidan O'Brien and 12/1 shout Latrobe for Joseph O'Brien, as I believe both will be well suited by the demands of the St Leger and both have the promise of much more to give.
I'll make another decision on the day as whether to have another option or not – I might consider combining Latrobe and Southern France with Kew Gardens in combination forecasts and tricasts to give insurance in case Kew Gardens proves to be too good and justifies his short odds.
Either way, I'll just be happy to be at my favourite track on my favourite racing day.