With the 2014 Ladbrokes St Leger Festival upon us we’re building up to the big event at Doncaster with a look at the history of the showpiece contest
The Ladbrokes St Leger was first run in 1776 and is the oldest of the five Classics in the Flat Racing calendar, besides also being held over the longest trip (1m6f) and being the final Classic of the season.
Over the years there have been some truly great winners of the renewal as well as a whole host of incredible stories.
Here’s our look at five of the best ever St Leger victors.
1850 – Voltigeur
The inspiration behind the eponymous Great Voltigeur Stakes, a key St Leger trial, our earliest entrant really was quite something.
With a win in the Derby already under his belt, Voltigeur headed to Doncaster to take his chance in the St Leger.
What followed is now a momentous part of racing history.
With the first running declared a dead-heat between our hero and Russborough, and the respective owners unwilling to divide the purse, a re-race was called.
Voltigeur tracked his re-opposing rival on this occasion to go clear by a length, sparking mass celebrations among the Yorkshire faithful.
1886 – Ormonde
When you’ve been dubbed the ‘horse of the century’ you know you’re something pretty special.
And that’s exactly how Ormonde must have felt during a career that witnessed almost unparalleled success.
The St Leger of 1886 represented the final leg of a triumphant Triple Crown bid and was arguably the easiest of his assignments.
A clear four-length victory when sent off as the 1/7 favourite represents just one component of an amazing spell at the top.
1970 – Nijinksy
The last colt to win a Triple Crown, Nijinsky is arguably the best ever St Leger horse, certainly in more recent times.
Handled masterfully by trainer Vincent O’Brien and jockey Lester Piggott, the son of Kentucky Derby winner Northern Dancer comfortably took the spoils in 1970’s renewal.
It was a remarkable feat, not least because in doing so Nijinsky became the first horse in 55 years to win a Triple Crown.
Even more unbelievable was the fact that the precocious colt had recently suffered a terrible bout of ringworm which had threatened to completely derail his connection’s plans for the rest of the season.
Howver, Nijinsky fought back to win his 11th consecutive race. A true champion.
1985 – Oh So Sharp
Moving on from the men, Oh So Sharp landed an incredible Fillies Triple Crown in 1985 to cap an incredible racing career for the late, great trainer Sir Henry Cecil.
In a relatively short-lived career the Irish-bred heroine won seven of her nine races, going off as favourite each time and never at odds of bigger than 2/1.
Having already landed the 1000 Guineas and Oaks in dramatic style the attention switched to Doncaster for her bid at creating history.
Under severe pressure from stablemate Lanfranco and outsider Phardante, Oh So Sharp dug in deep to justify her 8/13 odds before retiring to become a successful broodmare.
With her powers on the wane even Cecil admitted to influential publication Timeform that “another week and it might have been too late”.
2008 – Conduit
Perhaps we’re getting a little dewey-eyed here but I’m sure Sir Michael Stoute will forgive us.
Conduit was the trainer’s first ever St Leger winner after 23 attempts and ranks as the last of the five that have been delivered in the hands of Frankie Dettori.
Racing and beating the likes of Irish Derby winner Frozen Fire and Oaks supremo Look Here was some achievement and we’re happy to include the son of Dalakhani in our list.
Further Group 1 success followed with back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Turf wins and a King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes score at Royal Ascot.
But it was the St Leger that set the Ballymacoll Stud charge on the path to true greatness.
Do you agree with our picks? Tweet @LadsNags and let us know what YOU think!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £100 in free bets.