St Leger Festival 2021 Betting Offers
The St Leger Stakes is the stand out Group 1 flat race of the festival. The race is the 5th of the five ‘classics’ in the season as well as the third and final leg of the Triple Crown (with the Epsom Derby and the 2000 Guineas) and fillies Triple Crown (with the Epsom Oaks and 1000 Guineas). The St Leger is the oldest of all the classic races, dating back to 1776, and also the longest of them all, run over 1 mile and 6 furlongs (just under 3km).
The 2021 festival is sponsored by William Hill with prize money for for the winner of the St Leger expected to approach £425,000 with an overall purse in excess of £750k. The 2020 race was won by the Joseph O’Brien trained horse Galileo Chrome ridden by Tom Marquand.
It’s not all about the St Leger stakes either with four days of racing to enjoy over the festival that includes another 28 races, 7 of which are group races. As the last major flat race of the season the St leger attracts a lot of betting as punters have had the whole season to study the horses in the best form. As usual don’t just bet with any old bookie, visit this page for the best ante-post promotions and latest deals updated daily through the festival.
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St Leger Festival Schedule & Racecard 2021
The St Leger Festival sees six Group 2 and a Group 3 race in addition to the crowing jewel Group 1 race the St Leger Stakes on the final day.
The festival is all about building up to the Saturday with a progressive card that gets more exciting as the days go by. Below you will find full race cards for each day of the St Leger Festival with highlights.
Day One (Legends Day) – 8th September 2021
|1:10||EBF Maidan Stakes||Class 2 – Plus 10||1m|
|1:40||Nursery Handicap||Class 2||7f 6y|
|2:10||Scarbrough Stakes||Listed (Class 1)||5f 3y|
|2:40||Leger Legends Classified Stakes||Class 5||1m|
|3:15||Sceptre Stakes||Group 3||7f 6y
|3:45||Conditions Stakes||Class 2||1m 2f 43y|
|4:15||Parker Bros Handicap||Class 4||5f 3y|
KEY: m – Miles, f – furlong(s), y – yards
Day one at the St Leger Festival is a nice easy day to get things going. The day is named ‘Legends Day’ because the fourth race of the day, the Leger Leger Legends Classified Race, sees a number of ex-professional jockeys come out of retirement to race in this special event under the rules of racing.
Run since 2010 and won previous by the likes of Tony McCoy and Joe O’Brien, it has become one of the biggest draws of the week despite being the lowest grade, class 5. Run over a straight mile the proceeds go to charity, raising money for rehabilitation of injured jockeys.
To spice things up a little on day one the Group 3 Sceptre Stakes was added in 2020 to give the day a group race. It is a fast dash with a large field and the only group 3 race of the festival. The 7f race is open to mares and fillies three years and up and has proven a highly competitive affair in recent years with trainer Barry Hills enjoying particular success. The field will be in the region of 20 horses with a prize to the winner of around £35k.
Among the remaining 5 races on the card there are no other group race but there are some great sprints to enjoy. The festival gets underway with a Plus 10 (extra £10k to the winner) race over 6-furlongs, followed by 7-furlong handicap, both for two year olds. The third race of the day is a class 1 listed sprint over 5 furlongs open to two year olds and over.
Following the legends race up 4th there is the feature race the Spectre Stakes followed up by a class 2 handicap race, the longest race of the day. Coming up finally in 7th, a last hit of adrenaline for the day with this fast dash over 5 furlongs.
Day Two (Ladies Day) – 9th September 2021
|1:10||Conditions Stakes||Class 2||1m 2f 43y|
|1:40||Fillies’ Nursery Handicap||Class 2||6f 111y|
|2:10||May Hill Stakes||Group 2
|2:40||Weatherbys 2 Year Old Stakes||Class 2||6f 111y|
|3:15||Park Hill Stakes||Group 2||1m 6f 115y|
|3:45||bet365 Handicap||Class 3||7f 6y|
|4:15||Doncaster Handicap||Class 3||6f 2y|
Day 2 of the festival moves us up a gear with seven races to enjoy including two group 2 stakes. Ladies day brings glitz and style to South Yorkshire, expect lots of hats and pretty frocks (well, maybe not this year, but usually).
Before the feature races we are eased in with a nice long over 1 miles and 2 furlongs with a conditions stakes open to three years olds and older. This is followed by a nursery handicap for two year old fillies’ over half the distance of the previous race, six and a half furlongs. This race has a good sized field of around 20 allowing punters the chance to place an outsider in the opening two races of the day.
With little time to take a breath the first group 2 race of the week is upon us in the May Hill Stakes. This contest for fillies of 2 years of age goes back to 1976 and is often used as a tester for next year’s 1000 Guineas. This race carries a good prize fund for fillies only race exceeding £80k.
The second day continues with a 6f race for 2yo’s, the Weatherbys stakes, with a very decent prize fund of £300,000. The fourth race and second group two race of the day, the Park Hill Stakes, is a contest restricted to fillies and mares. Run over a mile and 6f is one of the oldest on the card dating back to 1839, winners of this race can expect to pick up over £56,000.
After this we have another short race in the bet365 handicap, a 7-furlong sprint for three-year-olds with a decent field size for each way bettors.
The day draws to a close with a an even shorter big-field handicap race for 3yo+ horses over six furlongs. A nice mixed day of big group races and lots of big field handicaps, suiting all punters.
Day Three (Gentleman’s Day) – 10th September 2021
|1:10||EBF Fillies’ Handicap||Class 2||1m 3f 197y|
|1:40||Mallard Stakes||Class 2||1m 6f 115y|
|2:10||bet365 Handicap||Class 2||6f 111y|
|2:40||Flying Childers Stakes||Group 2||5f 3y
|3:15||Doncaster Cup||Group 2||2m 1f 197y
|3:45||Flying Scotsman Stakes||Listed (Class 1)||7f 6y|
|4:15||EBF Maiden Stakes||Class 3 – Plus 10||7f 6y|
There are many Ladies Day’s dotted throughout the racing calendar but not too many Gentleman’s days. For the third day expect to see some fancy suits bobbing about in the stands and lots of groups of fellas. There is even a sports car display and clay pigeon shooting, how stereotypical of the modern gentleman!
Day 3 at Doncaster, like the other days, eases us in nicely with a middle-distance handicap for fillies’ followed by The Mallard Handicap, a slightly longer race, both for 3 year olds plus. The adrenaline starts to rise with the third race, a much faster handicap dash over six and a half furlongs, this race tends to attract a big field and is a good one for each-way betting.
From there we go straight in at the deep end with a 5-furlong Group 2 sprint for two year olds. This is often seen as a proving ground for the next seasons three-year-old nags. Originally named the Norfolk Stakes the race was established in 1967, the name was changed due to a conflict with the Ascot race of the same name. The race is now named after an 18th Century horse, Flying Childers.
Next it is the race of the day, the Doncaster Cup. This is the longest run of the week over 2 miles and 2-furlongs and actually pre-dates the St Leger, first run in 1766 as the Doncaster Gold Cup. In fact, the race used to be a true stayers race, first held over 4 miles until it was changed in 1825. It is common to see many of the runners from the Ascot Gold Cup in this race. The winner of this race can expect to pick up in the region of £57,000.
Up in sixth it is the Flying Scotsman, a listed race over 7 furlongs, a nice short race to follow the previous one. There is little time to collect your thoughts before the last race action packed day. The day is capped off with a plus 10 race over a 7 furlongs.
Day Four (St Leger Day) – 11th September 2021
|1:15||Virgin Handicap||Class 2||1m|
|1:50||Champagne Stakes||Group 2||7f 6y
|2:25||Portland Handicap||Class 2||5f 143y|
|3:00||Park Stakes||Group 2||7f 6y
|3:35||St Leger Stakes||Group 1||1m 6f 115y|
|4:05||Nursery Handicap||Class 2||1m|
|5:10||Racing Handicap||Class 2||1m 3f 197y|
Day four at the festival, or St Leger day as it is often referred, provides the pinnacle to the event. The steady build up in quality of the previous three days culminates in an often raucous atmosphere at the Doncaster course.
It’s a gentle start to the day with a large field handicap for 3yo+ runners over a mile. Next we have the first group 2 race of the day, a 7-fulong run for two-year-old colts and geldings. Another nearly 200-year-old race first run back in 1823, the Champagne Stakes was made male only in 1988 with previous winners including the likes of Godolphin. The purse is around £80,000 for this one with £43k to the winner.
Third up is the Portland Handicap. This is a rare short handicap sprint over 5 1/2 furlongs and it is a favourite of punters (not the bookies though) as the favourite tends to win. The winner of this race can pick up nearly £40k, not bad for a class 2 handicap.
In fourth we are treated to group 2 3yo+ clash, the Park Stakes. This fairly late comer was created back in 1978 and attained group 2 status in 2004 and commands a prize purse around £105k with £62k to the winner.
The St Leger Stakes goes off at fifth on the card, the group 1 classic, the only group 1 race of the week and one of only two held at Doncaster, is also the oldest of the five big flat races. Dating back to 1776 this is also the longest classic race run over a distance of 1 mile and six furlongs and open to 3 year old horses of either gender. Being at the end of the season this race attract more betting activity of any other classic as punters have had time to watch the runners over the season.
The St Leger also holds the honour of being the only classic race to be run at a Northern racecourse. This race requires a lot of stamina and speed, the eventual winner deserving of the around £400,000 prize from an overall purse of about £700k.
The day and festival ends nicely with three back to back class 2 handicap races giving racegoers and punters alike the time to catch their breath after a spectacular meeting.
About the St Leger
The race was established in 1776, organised by the second Marquess of Roackingham. In its first year the race was actually known as the Sweepstake of 25 Guineas held at Cantley Common and it was one of the Marquess’ own horses who won the inaugural race, a filly named Allabaculia.
At a dinner party held the following year to discuss the next race it was proposed the race should be renamed after the Marquess of Rockingham but he politely refused. Instead he proposed the race be named after a local Major General in the British army, Antony St Leger.
Following a successful career in the army Antony St Leger became owner of a local estate where he bred and race horses. Anthony was also local MP for Grimbsy from 1768-74 and was somewhat of a local celebrity among the gentry and he helped devise the 2-mile inaugural race.
In 1778 the race was moved to its present location of Doncaster racecourse, named then Town Moor. In 1800 the race gained extra prestige as the first ever double champion to win both the Derby and the St Leger emerged, the horse was aptly named Champion. In 1813 the race was reduced to 1 mile and 6 furlongs where it has remained for the over 200 years since. West Australian became the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 1853 winning the St leger, the Derby and the 2000 Guineas in the same season.
The St Leger has been a main stay of the British flat racing calendar for over 200 years. The longest and last of the five classic races in the season has only been halted by war and has pretty much always been run at Doncaster. The only one of the classics to be held at a Northern English race course.
The race was transferred to Newmarket during World War I at which time it was named the September Stakes. During World War II the race did not run at all in 1939 and moved to Thirsk in 1940, Manchester held the race in 1941 and it was back to Newmarket from 1942 to 1944 before York hosted the race in 1945 before moving back to Doncaster.
The race has been held once outside of England in 1989 when it was move to Ayr in Scotland due to subsidence at Doncaster.
St Leger Records and Statistics
|Top Jockey||Bill Scott – 9 Wins (From 1821 to 1846)|
|Top Trainer||John Scott – 16 wins (From 1827 to 1862)|
|Top Owner||Archibald Hamilton – 7 winners (From 1786 to 1814)|
|Fastest Time||Logician in 2019, 3m 00.27s|
|Biggest Margin||Never Say Die in 1954 by 12 lengths|
|Longest Odds||Theodore in 1822 at 200/1|
|Shortest Odds||Galtee More in 1897 at 1/10|
|Biggest Field||30 runners in 1825|
|Smallest Field||3 runners in 1917|
Other Feature Races
Scarbrough Stakes (Listed)
The Scarbrough Stakes is open to 2-year-olds and over and is run over 5 furlongs and 3 yards. Winners of Group 1 and Group 2 races after the 31st of March are excluded, however. The following weight information applies to the race:
- 2-year-olds: 8 stone 3 pounds
- 3-year-olds: 9 stone 10 pounds
- 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 11 pounds
- Fillies and mares get a 5 pound allowance
- Group 3 race winners since the 31st of March receive a 5 pound penalty
- Listed race winners since the 31st of March receive a 3 pound penalty
Between 1983 and 2018, three horses won this Listed race twice but no horses have won it three times.
May Hill Stakes (Group 2)
Run over 1 mile on the straight, the May Hill Stakes is open to 2-year-old fillies. The weight is 9 stone, with Group 1 and Group 2 winners receiving a 3 pound penalty.
The race is named after a filly who won the Park Hill Stakes in 1975 and was established the following year. It was a Group 3 offering before being promoted to Group 2 in 2003. Horses that do well in this race are often also competitive in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.
Park Hill Stakes (Group 2)
Inaugurated in 1839, the race is named after a local estate called Park Hill that had previously been owned by Anthony St. Leger. St. Leger, of course, was the man who founded the St. Leger Stakes, which is considered to be Doncaster’s most prestigious event.
When the race was first run it was limited to 3-year-old fillies and when the current grading of races came about it was a Group 2 offering. It was opened to fillies and mares aged 4 and over in 1991, when it was relegated to become a Group 3 race, returning to Group 2 in 2004.
The race is currently for fillies and mares aged 3 and over. It is run left-handed over 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 115 yards, with the following weight information:
- 3-year-olds: 8 stone 9 pounds
- 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 5 pounds
- Group 1 winners after the 31st of March receive a 5 pound penalty
- Group 2 winners after the 31st of Match receive a 3 pound penalty
In terms of interesting trivia surrounding the race, spectators rioted in 1857 when a horse named Blink Bonny won the race. They felt that she should have won the St. Leger the day before but had been stopped from doing so dishonestly.
Sceptre Stakes (Group 3)
The race was established in 1986 and was initially run over a single mile, at which time it was a listed race. In 1993 the length was reduced by one furlong to 7 furlongs and in 2011 it was promoted to group 3.
Open to fillies and mares of three years of age or greater, it has the following weight restriction:
- 3-year-olds: 8 stone 12 pounds
- 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 2 pounds
- Group 1 winners after the 31st of March receive a 7 pound penalty
- Group 2 winners after the 31st of Match receive a 5 pound penalty
- Group 2 winners after the 31st of Match receive a 3 pound penalty
The most successful trainer is Barry Hills with 5 wins and the most successful jockey is his son, Michael Hills, with 4 victories.
Flying Childers Stakes (Group 2)
This Group 2 flat race is run on the straight over 5 furlongs and 3 yards. It is limited to 2-year-olds with a weight of 9 stone and 1 pound, though fillies get a 3 pound allowance.
Named after an 18th century racehorse that had been bred at nearby Carr House, the race was established in 1967 as the Norfolk Stakes. It got its current moniker in 1973 and was a Group1 offering until it was downgraded to Group 2 in 1979.
Doncaster Cup (Group 2)
Established as the Doncaster Gold Cup in 1766, it was formed ten years earlier than the St. Leger Stakes, making it the oldest race that still takes place at the course. The first ten years worth of races took place at Cantley Common, moving to the current location in 1776.
It was a 4 mile race when it was first run, being shortened to 2 miles and 5 furlongs in 1825 then 2 miles and 2 furlongs in 1891. That wasn’t the end of the shifting length of the race, dropping another furlong in 1908 and then getting its former length restored in 1927.
The Doncaster Cup was a Group 3 race when the current gradings were introduced in 1971 but was promoted to Group 2 in 2003, which is has remained ever since. It is considered to be one of the most prestigious races in Britain for Stayers and is the last leg of the Stayers’ Triple Crown, coming after the Gold Cup at Ascot and the Goodwood Cup.
Run left-handed over 2 miles, 1 furlong and 197 yards, the race is for horses aged 3 and over. The following weight information is in play:
- 3-year-olds: 8 stone 7 pounds
- 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 5 pounds
- Fillies and mares get a 3 pound allowance
- Group 1 winners receive a 5 pound allowance
- Group 2 winners receive a 3 pound allowance
There aren’t many handicaps run at Doncaster during the St. Leger Festival, but the Portland Handicap is one. It’s run on the straight over 5 furlongs and 143 yards and is open to horses aged 3 and over. As it’s a handicap race there’s no specific weight information to tell you about, with the handicapper deciding what each horse should carry according to their ability.
The race was first run in 1855 when it was known as the Portland Plate. In its more formative years the race was started at a place on the course that was opposite a coaching inn known as the Red House, with the positioning of the start meaning that there was a left-handed band halfway through the race.
Park Stakes (Group 2)
This Group 2 race is run over 7 furlongs and 6 yards on the straight. It’s for horses aged 3 and over, with the following weight information:
- 3-year-olds: 9 stone
- 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 4 pounds
- Fillies and mares get a 3 pound allowance
- Group 1 race winners after the 31st of March receive a 5 pound penalty
- Group 2 race winners after the 31st of March receive a 3 pound penalty
The race inaugurated in 1978 and for a time was known as the Kiveton Park Stakes because of sponsorship by Kiveton Park Steel. It was Listed and run over 7 furlongs for a while, promoted to Group 3 in 1986 and then extended to a mile in length seven years later.
The race was given its current title in 1996 when the word ‘Kiverton’ was removed, reverting back to being 7 furlongs in length in 2003 and gaining Group 2 status the following year.
Champagne Stakes (Group 2)
Established in 1823, the race was originally open to both male and female horses. It was initially run over a mile, shortened to 6 furlongs in 1870 and then lengthened to 7 furlongs in 1962. The restriction to male horses came about in 1988.
Open to 2-year-old colts and geldings, the Group 2 race is run on the straight over 7 furlongs and 6 yards. The weight is 9 stone, with Group 1 and Group 2 winners receiving a penalty of 3 pounds.
Horses that do well in the Champagne Stakes often go on to compete in the Dewhurst Stakes, run at Newmarket the following month.
Doncaster today boasts one of the largest courses by capacity in the United Kingdom and it is also one of the oldest race tracks. Originally named Town Moor there are records of racing being held there from the 1500’s in Henry VIII’s time.
In the year 1600 local law makers attempted to bar racing at the Moor due the attraction of unscrupulous characters but gave up by 1614 instead trying to control racing by marking out an actual course, Doncaster never looked back.
The St Leger may be the oldest classic and the most prestigious race associated with the course but there is in fact an even older race that heralds from Doncaster that is still run today on the third day of the festival, the Doncaster Cup. The race, initially named the Doncaster Gold Cup, is actually the oldest regulated horse race in the world still going today. It is also one of the longest, and the longest race of the 29 races of the St Leger Festival, held over 2 miles and 2 furlongs, and currently runs on day three of the festival. When the race was first devised and run in 1766 it was held over an even longer distance of 4 miles, a true race for British stayers, it was reduced to its current length in 1825. The Doncaster Cup is still part of the Stayers triple Crown along with the Goodwood Cup and the Gold Cup at Ascot.
The course holds another group 1 flat race in October each year, the Racing Post Trophy. Run over 1 mile the race goes back to 1961 when it was named the Timeform Gold Cup. The Observer newspaper were sponsors of the race when it achieved group one status in 1971 followed by William Hill in 1976 and the Racing Post in 1989 until today. The prize purse for this race today is around £250,000 with up to £150,000 for the winner.
Doncaster has a modern claim to fame too. In 1992 it became the first British racecourse to host a Sunday meeting. Over 23,000 spectators turned up to watch despite their being no ability to bet on a Sunday at the time.
The course is left handed, mainly flat and in the shape of a pear, over a distance of 1 mile and 7.5 furlongs. The course is used for both flat racing and jump racing in the National Hunt season.