BETTING industry expert Tommy Buckley (@tbuckleythinks) has taken an analytical look at the upcoming St Leger from Doncaster.
3:35 Doncaster | St Leger | Saturday 14th September 2019 | 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 in 2017 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 2018:
- 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
- 2018 – Kew Gardens | 3-1 | 7/4f | 20/1
St Leger Stats & Trends
- 11 of the last 19 winners of the St Leger have been priced 7/2 or under, including four of the last six.
- 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.
- The last two renewals of the St Leger have very much gone the punters way with Ryan Moore and Aidan O'Brien combining on two very well backed 3/1 winners; five of the last six to be placed in top three have been 5/1 or shorter.
Analysis of the 2019 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.
Logician heads the market for the formidable Group 1 machine Frankie Dettori and John Gosden at around the 5/4 and there is every reason to believe that his price could go odds-on by the time the great race arrives.
Unraced as a two-yea-old,Logician is four wins from four this season on varying ground, two over one-mile-two-furlongs and two over one-mile-four-furlongs. His last time out went very smooth, and an impressive win in the Great Voltigeur suggests the one-mile six-furlongs of the St Leger will suit him well; clearly the one to beat on what we've seen and I've already backed him at 5/4.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained pair Sir Dragonet and Il Paradiso sit in behind Logician in the market at 3/1 and 5/1 respectively. With Ryan Moore not having yet been committed to either, those prices could well flip-flop once he's confirmed what he's riding.
Sir Dragonet has the higher rating and the better form in the book although it's fascinating howIl Paradiso has been a big mover in recent weeks from 25/1 down to the current 5/1 with a good run against Stradivarius proving his wellbeing. Both are obviously massively respected given O'Brien has won the last two renewals and has an a great overall record in the St Leger.
The Mark Johnston-trained Sir Ron Priestley currently ranks fourth in the betting at around 8/1 and I've taken that each-way as I really like his progressive profile. He has proven ability over the trip and he'll battle if needed, and I believe he's got more to give as a stayer.
Technician ranks a general 10/1 shot and his best form entitles him to respect but given his last two wins were on soft, I think he'd need the rain to arrive and others to underperform to win a St Leger. I'll hold my hands up if I'm wrong.
Dashing Willoughby is another who has plenty of class but also looks as though softer ground is best. I'd personally want bigger than 16/1 on offer to contemplate backing him, although proven stamina and having the assistance of William Buick are positives for the Andrew Balding runner.
The remaining runners in the St Leger market all sit at 25/1 or bigger so although Harbour Law winning at huge odds in 2016 shows shocks can happen, it would be a big upset if the likes of Nayet Road, Norway, South Pacific, Western Australia or Barbados would be good to win a St Leger, althoughBarbados will be carrying a small sentimental bet for me as that's where we got married and it's our anniversary on Saturday.
Overall, I'd say given the hugely progressive profile of Logician from run-to-run this season, given the form of Frankie Dettori and John Gosden in Group 1's, then I do believe he is the one to beat and will be my main bet to win the St Leger this year, if you can get odds-against I'd take it.
I do always respect everything O'Brien runs and he might well win it again but neither Sir Dragonet or Il Paradiso really tempt me enough, as a cover bet I'd rather be on Sir Ron Priestley each-way at the prices.
Whatever happens on the day, I can't wait to be on Town Moor at Doncaster again to take in the delights of St Leger day and enjoy the oldest British flat racing classic.
St Leger – Logician (11/10 Bet365)
St Leger – Sir Ron Priestley each-way (10/1 William Hill)