The St Leger is the oldest of the classics in British flat racing, but now the feature of the prestigious four-day meeting at Doncaster, South Yorkshire comes alive to the sound of thunder and hooves for one weekend in September.
Over 65,000 spectators are expected to cram into Town Moor, each with their own version of the NAP of the day, and each visiting to catch a slightly different attraction.
The opening day is when the famous Leger Legends race is run with plenty of former jockeys returning to the saddle for just one day. The likes of AP McCoy, Joseph O’Brien and Brian Harding have taken some of the recent renewals with Kieran Fallon and recently retired jump jockey Noel Fehily both included in the line-up this year.
Day two is all about glitz and glam on Ladies Day, with Gentleman’s Day taking pride of place on Friday and then of course St Leger day on Saturday.
With that in mind, Luke Parkinson has taken a look at some of the big races we can look forward to across the meeting and picked out a fancy to follow for each and every day.
Opened to fillies and mares, this Group Two is run over one mile, six furlongs and 115 yards, which is exactly the same distance as the St Leger on Saturday.
Named after an estate formerly owned by Anthony St Leger who was the founded of Doncaster’s most famous race, the Park Hill Stakes was established in 1839 before being promoted to Group Two status for the second time in 2004.
It has attracted some talented fillies and mares since then and this year’s renewal will be no different with a whole host of big yards having entries in Thursday’s second race on the card.
The in-form John Gosden has a 50% strike rate at Doncaster this year and can extend that record with Enbihaar in this. She has won Group Two’s on her last couple of starts, including over this kind of distance when winning the Lille Langtry Stakes at Goodwood last month.
The expected good to firm ground at Donny should be right up her street and that should mean that she needs some stopping.
Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci had a day to remember in last year’s Doncaster Cup as they scooped the one-two in Friday’s feature race with Thomas Hobson beating stablemate Max Dynamite by 1/2 length as the pair pulled well clear of the rest of the field.
Max Dynamite may well return this year after being entered for the race by Mullins, but this staying division has been dominated by one horse in the last twelve to eighteen months and will take some stopping once again.
Stradivarius landed the Stayers £1 million bonus for the second year running after winning the Lonsdale Cup at York last time out and has now gone nine races unbeaten, with his last defeat coming to Order of St George in the British Champions Long Distance Cup in October 2017.
He’s proven himself to handle any ground with wins ranging from good-to-firm down to soft, so whatever comes his way at Doncaster this week you can pretty much expect him to deal with it pretty comfortably.
Owner Hamdan Al Maktoum had the winner of the Park Stakes just twelve months ago when the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Mustashry was successful over the seven-furlong trip at Doncaster.
This year, Hamdan Al Maktoum has a great chance of following up with Turjomaan who has already proved himself over the distance after winning twice winning at Newcastle.
He’s trained by Roger Varian who operates with a 26% strike rate at Doncaster over the last five years and clearly knows what it takes to have a winner at Town Moor.
The colt was second in a Group Three at Goodwood last time, and although this would require a step up again, you wouldn’t put it past this lightly-raced three-year-old.
Mums Tipple has been a real talking horse of late and Richard Hannon must be licking his lips at what the future could hold for this talented two-year-old.
Connections have reportedly turned down a big figure sum for him in recent weeks, so they’ll have their fingers crossed that their hopes and aspirations can start to be fulfilled by winning a first Group race of his career.
So far, he remains unbeaten after two starts. Firstly at Ascot, and then an eyecatching victory by eleven lengths at York in the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes over six furlongs.
That is where the hype was really kick-started and plenty will be expected this Saturday.
There’s been a bit of a John Gosden theme running through this St Leger meeting preview so far, but his most notable chances could well be in the St Leger itself.
The Newmarket handler hasn’t won the big race since he trained back-to-back victories in 2010 and 2011 thanks to winning rides from William Buick onboard Arctic Cosmos and then Masked Marvel.
However, the unbeaten Logician has come right to the front of the St Leger picture after tasting success in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York just a few weeks ago. The son of Frankel stayed on well that day and looked as though he’d take to a step up in trip to 1m6f.
It will require another big step up for the three-year-old this Saturday, but you get the sense that he’s got plenty more to show us yet.
Andrea Atzeni – 42 wins from 172 rides (24%)
Jamie Spencer – 31 wins from 155 rides (20%)
Daniel Tudhope – 27 wins from 156 rides (17%)
PJ McDonald – 26 wins from 185 rides (14%)
Ryan Moore – 25 wins from 111 rides (23%)
Richard Fahey – 39 wins from 426 runners (9%)
Roger Varian – 37 wins from 143 runners (26%)
Richard Hannon – 33 wins from 285 runners (12%)
Mark Johnston – 27 wins from 170 runners (16%)
Sir Michael Stoute – 26 wins from 74 runners (35%)
Godolphin – 47 winners from 183 runners (26%)
Hamdan Al Maktoum – 30 winners from 158 runners (19%)
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum – 17 winners from 48 runners (35%)
Cheveley Park Stud – 12 winners from 63 runners (19%)
Khalid Abdullah – 11 winners from 44 runners (25%)