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Doncaster Racecourse hosts the last of this season's Classics on Saturday - the 2016 St Leger Stakes.
Run over 1 mile 6 furlongs, the race is the stayer's highlight of the Classics series, but has been short of star power in recent seasons. This is once again the case in 2016, with none of this season's Irish or English Classics winners entered into the St Leger Stakes.
In fact the field is short on Group 1 winners in general, with the top three horses in the betting having achieved a Group 2 and Group 3 win amongst themselves.
St Leger Stakes trends
The St Leger Stakes tends to pull in very mixed fields, typically including horses who have not previously run over 14 furlongs. The fact that three of the last five winners had never run over that distance suggests that previous staying potential is not an essential ingredient for success.
Form is a more helpful clue to a horse's prospects in the race, with three of the last five winners achieving a win in their prior race, while one placed. However, there is no definitive trial for this race, with St Leger winners taking a variety of races over varying distances before achieving success at Doncaster.
One stat that does stand out when comparing the performances of previous winners is the impact of horse quality. Four of the last five winners were rated between 108 and 112, with the remaining winner rated over 120.
2016 St Leger Stakes field
The 2016 St Leger Stakes has produced a strong looking antepost favourite in Idaho. He not only has a Group 2 win in his most recent race to his credit, but also placed in both the English Derby and Irish Derby. He's finished outside the places just once in his career. His rating also checks out at 120, and at 4/6 at Paddy Power he's an option.
Muntahaa has been priced second favourite at 5/1 by William Hill. He won over 13.5 furlongs last time out, but only won by a shoulder. With no previous wins at Group level to his credit he's not at the level of the favourite. However, if given firmer ground he may find his way into the race.
One valuable outsider in the field is Ventura Storm. He's both in form and carries a suitable rating of 111 into the race, thanks to a win in a French Group 3 last time out. He showed staying potential in that race by winning by almost 4 lengths when asked to cover 12 furlongs for the first time. Priced at 16/1 by William Hill he offers real each-way value.
However, the real value proposition is Sword Fighter. He's trading over 10/1 at the moment after finishing 5th over 2 miles in the Goodwood Cup. Don't read too much into that performance, as ge won over 16 furlongs at Royal Ascot in June and followed that up with a comfortable win in an Irish Group 2 at the Curragh a few days later. At 12/1 at William Hill, he'll pay out well even if he only places.
2016 St Leger Stakes tip
Idaho is a deserved favourite. However, if you are looking for real value Sword Fighter is your horse.
|1st||Harbour Law||G Baker||Mrs L J Mongan||3||57|
|2nd||0.75||Ventura Storm||S De Sousa||R Hannon||3||T|
|3rd||shd||Housesofparliament||C O'Donoghue||A P O'Brien||3||57|
|4th||10||Muntahaa||P Hanagan||J H M Gosden||3||57|
|5th||8||Sword Fighter||D O'Brien||A P O'Brien||3||57|
|6th||2||Harrison||G Lee||M R Channon||3||57|
|7th||nk||Ormito||Oisin Murphy||A M Balding||3||57|
|8th||5||The Tartan Spartan||P Makin||J P Shanahan||3||57|
|U||Idaho||J A Heffernan||A P O'Brien||3||57|
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