st ledger festival preview

2020 St Leger Festival Preview


This week will see the top racehorses head to Doncaster for the St Leger Festival. The flat season is nearing conclusion and for some it will be the last time they run this year. The festival will see a mixture of up and coming 2-year olds through to the battle-hardened group 1 horses doing battle. As punters, there are many things to consider before you have a bet. Let’s look at some of the key pieces of information you should be considering before backing a horse this week.

The Festival

The St Leger Festival is held over four-days, Wednesday through to Saturday. There are 28 races to look forward to, with the highlight being the St Leger Stakes at 3:35pm on Saturday.

Of the 28 races only 2 of those are below Class 3 in quality which just highlights the standard of racing we can expect to see. With their being 28 races it is important to identify what you are comfortable spending and how you can spread that over the four days.

The Course

Doncaster is a course steeped in history offering racing throughout the year over jumps and on the flat. It is the first and last course to host turf meetings on the flat during the season, starting with the Lincoln in March and closing with the last meeting in November. It plays host to the oldest classic race in the world, The St Leger, which was first held in 1776 and is the showpiece of the September Festival.

The course is a left-handed track which is pretty much flat the whole way round, for that reason it is seen as one of the fairest tracks in the country when it comes to flat racing. Races over 1mile and below are run on the straight course, except for Tuesday’s May Hill Stakes over 1 mile, which is run on the round course. This is something to consider as some horses will certainly favour a straight track to that of one with a bend.

The Going

Something you should certainly pay close attention to this week is the good old British weather. The course normally copes very well with the weather and it is rarely heavy ground.

Looking at a horse’s form on different types of ground is important. Some horses will display clear preference for ground which is soft, and others will want it to be on the firmer side. Looking back at how horses have run on different grounds will help you. If it is the first time a horse has encountered the ground in the going description, you can look at their breeding and how their parents fared on such ground.

Field Sizes

As with any festival of racing the number of horses taking part is normally much higher than your average race day. Over the week there will be some races with well over 20 horses in the field. This adds an interesting angle when it comes to betting. It is likely some horses will never have run in races with so many runners and some will find the whole experience incredibly challenging. You will of course find some horses who thrive in and amongst other horses and it can see them perform to their best. Make sure you look back through a horse’s career and how they have performed in races with larger field sizes, it could be valuable.

The Jockeys

The festival also provides an opportunity for jockeys to showcase their abilities at the highest level. We have already mentioned field sizes and one effect of a larger number of horses in the race, is the opportunity for some of the more unknown jockeys to take on some of the more established household names.

As with the horses, some jockeys do perform better at some tracks compared to others. Everyone knows Frankie Dettori and the quality he has but it is never that simple when it comes to racing. Have a look at recent jockey form at Doncaster as you may be surprised with how some of the other jockeys compare to the likes of Frankie.

The Star Attractions

Many racing fans will be eagerly awaiting the return of the 2019 St Leger winner Logician. He hasn’t been seen since winning the race last year having suffered a setback. If turning up, the son of Frankel will be well backed to get his career back on track. He has been declared to run in the 1:10pm on Thursday, Class 2 Conditions Stakes over 1mile 2furlongs. It is worth noting his win in last years St Leger was over 1mile 6furlongs. He will only face 2 challengers on Thursday, so it is likely a race best watched to see how he gets on after a long layoff.

This year’s renewal of the St Leger Stakes is as expected, stacked with talented horses. The festival showpiece gets underway at 3:35pm on Saturday. Current market leader Pyledriver, arrives following a surprise win in the Voltigeur Stakes at York last month. Whether he can confirm that form we will see.

If he doesn’t there will be plenty in behind looking to stake their claim of winning the oldest classic race in the world. English King who was a strong fancy for this years Derby will look to get his career back on track following some below par efforts, which included finishing 5th in the Derby.

Betting at the Festival

It can be easy to get carried away in the excitement leading up to these big festivals, but it is important to remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. With four days of racing ahead there will be plenty of opportunities to have a bet. You do not need to have a bet in all 28 races to enjoy the week.

Managing your budget is key and will ensure you spread out the entertainment across the four days. For information on how to manage your bank roll, check out our guide here!

With some races having over 20 runners, solving the puzzle will be tricky and there will be plenty of shocks throughout the week. So, don’t go blowing your budget on those races when a lot can happen with that many horses hurtling down a 6-furlong straight course.

With four days of racing at the same track, a lot can be learned from what has gone before. Keep a track of what happened on day 1 and if there are any trends with regards to the winners.

Please let us know how you spread the fun over the four days of racing and how you pick which races you are going to bet in.

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