A NEW chapter in the long history of the St Leger race at Doncaster could be about to be written, as Camelot attempts to win the world’s oldest classic race and emulate the feat last achieved by the great Nijinsky back in 1970 in claiming the coveted Classic Triple Crown.
Trained at Ballydoyle in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by his son, Joseph, Camelot has already landed the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Investec Derby at Epsom (along with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby), and he stands on the threshold of being the first Triple Crown winner for 42 years.
The Ladbrokes St. Leger Stakes – the 237th running of this Group 1 contest on Saturday, September 15 – is the centre-piece of the prestigious four-day Ladbrokes St Leger Festival, which starts next Wednesday.
Camelot has already demonstrated his considerable ability at Doncaster, when winning last October’s Group 1 Racing Post Trophy as a two-year-old and the colt is the odds-on favourite to complete the clean sweep of Classics for colts in 2012 by winning the Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes – a Group 1 contest which is part of The QIPCO British Champions Series
Sponsored for the eighth year by Ladbrokes, The St Leger on Saturday has increased prize money of £550,000 and Doncaster’s flagship race, contested over one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards is the final Classic of the British season.
Camelot’s possible opponents include recent York winners, Thought Worthy (successful in the Great Voltigeur Stakes) and Guarantee (the winner of the Melrose Stakes), along with top-class performers such as Great Heavens (Irish Oaks winner), Shantaram (Bahrain Trophy winner), Imperial Monarch (Grand Prix de Paris winner) and Main Sequence (runner-up in the Great Voltigeur).
The winning owner will receive the specially-commissioned St Leger Trophy, depicting the White Rose of Yorkshire; the successful trainer will receive The Dick Hern Trophy – a bronze by Doncaster sculptor Byron Howard – presented in memory of the six-times St. Leger-winning trainer, while the winning jockey will be presented with the traditional embroidered Jockeys’ Cap.
Prize money in excess of £1.8 million is up for grabs over four days of top-class action which showcases some of the most famous contests in British racing.
There’s a 2pm start to racing on Wednesday (Welcome to Yorkshire Day), while the action on both Thursday (DFS Ladies’ Day) and Friday (Stobart Doncaster Cup Day) gets under way at 1.20pm. St Leger Day Saturday begins at 2pm. Accompanied children under 16 are admitted free into all enclosures.
On the opening day some of the most popular and successful jockeys from both codes of racing will don the silks one more time in the third renewal of the Leger Legends Classified Stakes over the straight mile – the fourth race on the programme and sponsored by Clipper Logistics.
The race is in aid of two Yorkshire-based charity projects - The Northern Racing College at nearby Rossington Hall and The Injured Jockeys’ Fund, specifically ‘Jack Berry House’ a rehabilitation facility for retired and disabled jockeys to be built in the Malton area.
Last year’s winning rider, US-based Julie Krone – the world’s most successful female jockey (and US Hall of Fame rider) is back again, along with 15 other former big-race jockeys, such as St. Leger-winning riders, Mick Kinane, Richard Hills and George Duffield, as well as Derby-winning jockey, Willie Ryan. And the legendary Lester Piggott will be there as he celebrates the 42nd anniversary of Nijinsky winning the 1970 St. Leger and Triple Crown.
Feature races include The Clipper Logistics Legends Classified Stakes and The Scarbrough Stakes.