Who is the leading trainer in the history of the St. Leger?
The t. Leger Stakes, run annually over 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 115 yards at Doncaster in September, is the fifth, and final, English Classic of the season. It is also the oldest English Classic, having been inaugurated on Cantley Common, two miles east of the modern race course, on September 24, 1776. Of the trainers still currently active, Aidan O’Brien has won the St. Leger six times, although he notably failed to do so with Camelot, who, in 2012, was sent off 2/5 favourite to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1970, while Saeed bin Suroor and John Gosden have saddled five winners apiece.
However, the records of contemporary trainers, while impressive enough, pale into insignificance when compared with that of the so-called ‘Wizard of the North’, John Scott. In 1825, Scott bought Whitewall House Stables in Malton, North Yorkshire and, for decades afterwards, handled some of the best horses in the country. All told, Scott sent out 16 winners of the St. Leger, namely Matilda (1827), The Colonel (1828), Rowton (1829), Margrave (1832), Touchstone (1834), Don John (1838), Charles the Twelfth (1839), Launcelot (1840), Satirist (1841), The Baron (1845), Newminster (1851), West Australian (1853), Warlock (1856), Imperieuse (1857), Gamester (1859) and The Marquis (1862). Western Australia, owned by John Bowes, also won the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby, such that his comfortable, three-length win in the St. Leger made him the first horse to win the Triple Crown.
Six of Scott’s St. Leger winners were ridden by his younger brother, Bill, who battled alcoholism for many years but, when sober, was arguably the best jockey of his day. Indeed, ‘Glorious Bill’, as he was known, also won the St. Leger on Jack Spigot (1821), Memnon (1825) and Sir Tatton Sykes (1846) for other trainers and remains the leading jockey in the history of the Doncaster Classic.