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St Leger: Greatest rides of all time

The St Leger at Doncaster is the final British Classic of the season and the longest of the prestigious events at a mile-and-three-quarters.

The Town Moor race is the final leg of the Triple Crown and serves as the ultimate stamina-test for the graduating three-year-old class.

It has often been said that: 'The fastest horse wins the Guineas; the luckiest the Derby – and the best horse wins the St Leger'.

Here we look at some of the great winning rides in the St Leger at Doncaster down through the years.

WhatSt Leger 
WhereDoncaster Racecourse, Yorkshire
When3.35, Saturday 16th September, 2023
How to watchbet365 Live Sports Streaming, ITV & Sky Sports Racing
OddsGregory 7/2, Continuous 7/2, Desert Hero 11/2, Arrest 8/1, Savethelastdance 10/1, Chesspiece 14/1, Tower Of London 20/1

Milan – 2001

Jockey: Mick Kinane

The first of what has since become six St Leger winners for Aidan O'Brien – and counting, of course, with Continuous 7/2 to score for the Ballydoyle trainer in 2023 – was Milan. 

The son of Saddler's Wells failed to win any of his first four outings as a 3YO but corrected that by landing York's Great Voltigeur in August.

That was enough to see him start 13/8 favourite in the 2001 St Leger but it looked as though fortune was against him when Demophilos went clear of the field with two-furlongs to run while Mick Kinane was trying to negotiate his way through traffic problems on the favourite.

The rider must have had a moment of worry, but he got his mount into clear sailing water and the stamina-laden Milan powered home, eventually coming clear by five-lengths.

Nijinsky – 1970

Jockey: Lester Piggott 

The late, great Lester Piggott won the St Leger on eight occasions with Nijinsky's success in 1970 the first of a three-in-a-row for the remarkable rider.

In truth, this wasn't the hardest win Lester managed in the Doncaster Classic but, given the pressure, it was a great ride in measured style. 

Winner of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Derby at Epsom that season, the Vincent O'Brien-trained runner had the chance to come the first Triple Crown winner since Barham in 1935.

He did it, cruising through the pack having been held up in rear, and Nijinsky remains the most recent winner of Britain's Triple Crown. 

Nijinsky finished half a length in front of Meadowville, with Piggott in complete control inside the final furlong despite having got to the lead sooner than he wanted. 

Encke – 2012

Jockey: Mickael Barzalona

The 2012 St Leger was all about one horse – at least on paper – as Camelot sought to become the first Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky. 

He was the 2/5 favourite for father/son Aidan and Joseph O'Brien and seemingly came to win his race three-furlongs down. 

Coming with him was Encke under Mickael Barzalona – the jockey that famously stood up and saluted the crowd passing the post to win the 2011 Epsom Derby on Pour Moi in a photo-finish – for Godolphin.

The boys in blue were long-established rivals to Coolmore in terms of racing and breeding and would have got enormous satisfaction from spoiling the party. 

Encke went clear at the furlong pole and while Camelot battled hard to reduce the deficit, Barzalona had just enough in reserve to see it out and become the ultimate party-pooper.

Reference Point – 1987

Jockey: Steve Cauthen

Born in Kentucky in 1960, Steve Cauthen became one of the pioneering global stars of the saddle – winning the Triple Crown in the US, multiple Classics in England, two Gold Cups at Royal Ascot and top races right across Europe. 

He won the St Leger three times in the second half of the 1980s and his win on Reference Point was the highlight. 

Making all in a race of this nature on a horse that had never run over the trip before was no easy challenge. Cauthen had to get the fractions right on a mount noted for coming on and off the bridle in his races. 

He got them spot on and his partner stayed the distance willingly, turning away Mountain Kingdom's late charge to win the St Leger for trainer Henry Cecil – who gained all of his four wins in the Doncaster race during the 1980s.

Simple Verse – 2015

Jockey: Andrea Atzeni

Around the time of Simple Verse's St Leger win in 2015, jockey Andrea Atzeni became known as 'Mr Doncaster'. He'd won the Classic a year before on Kingston Hill and would get Simple Verse over the line with a head to spare on favourite Bondi Beach.

The final furlong was a duel between the pair and a messy one at that, with several bumps given. Atzeni was strong in the saddle to get his filly home from a very reliable stayer in the Ballydoyle colt.

It looked a case of 'six of one, half a dozen of the other' and trainer Ralph Beckett declared himself "astonished" when a stewards' enquiry handed the race to Bondi Beach.

A successful appeal was launched and Simple Verse, first past the post, went in the history books as the first filly to win the race since 1992.

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