St. Leger Festival

The St. Leger Festival takes place over four days at Doncaster Racecourse, in South Yorkshire, in September each year. As the name suggests, the meeting revolves around the oldest British Classic, and third, and final, leg of the so-called Triple Crown, the St. Leger Stakes. Founded in 1776, by the eponymous Anthony St. Leger, a major general in the 86th Regiment of Foot, the St. Leger Stakes is run over 1 mile 6 furlongs and 115 yards on Town Moor and open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies.

The Triple Crown, attributed to any colt or filly that wins the Two Thousand Guineas, Derby and St. Leger, was last won by Nijinksy in 1970 and has rarely been attempted in recent years. However, in 2012, the hitherto unbeaten colt Camelot, trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by his son, Joseph, was sent off 2/5 favourite to complete the elusive treble, only to be beaten three-quarters of a length by 25/1 outsider Enke.

Other highlights of the St. Leger Festival include the Park Hill Stakes, a Group 2 contest run over the same course and distance as the St. Leger Stakes and open to thoroughbred fillies and mares aged three years and upwards. The Park Hill Stakes is still, erroneously, referred to as the “Fillies’ St. Leger” in some quarters; the St. Leger Stakes is open to fillies in any case and the Park Hill Stakes is no longer restricted to three-year-olds.

The penultimate day of the St. Leger Festival features the Doncaster Cup, which pre-dates the St. Leger Stakes by a decade and is the third, and final, leg of the so-called Stayers’ Triple Crown, after the Ascot Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup. The St. Leger Stakes aside, the final day also includes the Champagne Stakes, run over 7 furlongs and open to two-year-old colts and geldings, and one of the most competitive sprint handicaps of the season, the Portland Handicap, run over a fast and furious 5 furlongs and 143 yards..