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The Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes

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Laura Mongan makes history
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History

The Ladbrokes St Leger is the final Classic of the British Flat season, the longest in distance and the oldest in years. Open to three-year-old colts and fillies and staged in September at Doncaster over 1 mile 6 furlongs and 132 yards (2,920 metres), the race began life in 1776. The event was thought up by Anthony St. Leger, an army officer and politician living near Doncaster. It was originally run over two miles, with colts carrying 8st, and fillies 7st 12lb.

The Ladbrokes St Leger is the final leg of the English Triple Crown, following the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and the Investec Derby. It also completes the Fillies’ Triple Crown, which begins with the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and the Investec Oaks.

Camelot was the most recent horse to head to Doncaster following victories in the Newmarket and Epsom Classics in 2012 but the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt could only finish second to Encke, who provided Godolphin with a sixth success in the race. O’Brien gained some consolation in 2013 when he won the race for the fourth time courtesy of Leading Light.

One of the best recent winners was Conduit in 2007, for trainer Sir Michael Stoute (his first St Leger victory, completing his full house of English classic races).  In his next start Conduit was triumphant in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the USA and the following year he won that race again, preceded by a famous victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Current leading jockey: Frankie Dettori, 5 wins (1995-6, 2005-6, 2008)
Current leading trainer: Saeed bin Suroor, 5 wins (1995, 1998-9, 2004, 2009)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money

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Mongan makes history with Harbour Law

Laura Mongan became the first woman to train the winner of the Ladbrokes St Leger when Harbour Law got up close home to win the world’s oldest Classic at Doncaster.

The 22-1 chance stretched every sinew under George Baker in the £700,000, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, to lead in the dying strides from Ventura Storm (14-1) and Housesofparliament (7-1).

It was an incredible finish to an incredible race, odds-on favourite Idaho taking a false step just under four furlongs out and unshipping Seamie Heffernan when travelling sweetly.

As a prostrate Heffernan received medical treatment – he late walked away seemingly unscathed – Harbour Law made history for his Epsom trainer and her husband, former jockey Ian Mongan.

“To go down in history as the first woman to win it is amazing, at least I’ve done something right,” Mongan said. “We’ve felt all along that whatever he did today, he’d be even better next year.

“It’s my daughter’s seventh birthday today but she’s at home with my mum along with my seven-year-old son. I’d promised her a party tomorrow and it might be a bit bigger now!

“I think I screamed a lot. I’m in shock. I’m so glad we came here and he’s proved that he can do it. We didn’t want to ride him like that, but George knows what he’s doing and all credit to him. We knew we could leave it to him.”

She added: “It was a really professional performance by the horse, we knew he’d go somewhere in life.

“It proves we can do it with the ammunition, it’s great to have a horse like this and bring him here for a race like this.

“It’s a bit surreal. I hope we are lucky enough to hold on to him.”

Before the St Leger, Mongan had secured £207,997 in win prize money on the Flat since 2005. First prize here was £396,970.

Sword Fighter was bustled up straight from the gates to take the lead, but Muntahaa soon went on with The Tartan Spartan third, Ventura Storm fourth and Idaho well placed.

When the field turned for home with the long straight in front of them there was no hint of the drama to follow, as Idaho was just about to make his move.

His Aidan O’Brien-trained stablemate Housesofparliament kicked for home, but was soon joined by Ventura Storm.

The latter, trained by Richard Hannon, held a narrow advantage in the final furlong for Silvestre de Sousa, but Harbour Law came with a sustained run to give Baker his first Classic success.

Harbour Law won by three-quarters of a length from Ventura Storm, with Housesofparliament a short head away in third.

Baker said: “I can’t believe it, I’m so happy for Ian and Laura, they had so much faith in him and really deserve it.

“It’s an amazing feeling to win the Leger. I worked him at Kempton about two weeks ago and he felt brilliant. When Idaho clipped heels it made it a very open race.”

Tim Palin, syndicate manager for Middleham Park Racing, owners of the gallant Ventura Storm, said: “You can’t fail to be thrilled to be just taking part in a race like this – to come so close to winning Britain’s oldest Classic is an absolute thrill of a lifetime for us and our owners and the syndicate.

“We’re a little sydnicate team competing against the best and it’s an absolute privilege. We’re disappointed with defeat, but I hope Idaho is OK.

“We’ve run past the line and we’re in one piece to fight another day, so we count our blessings.”

Results

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The Course

Doncaster’s local authorities tried to ban horseracing a few years ago – well, 400 years ago, to be exact – because of the hordes of ruffians that the races attracted.

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Eventually, they gave up, marking out a racecourse instead. The result? One of the country’s biggest horseracing centres and the home of two of the world’s oldest races, the Doncaster Cup and the Ladbrokes St Leger. Both feature in the QIPCO British Champions Series

The south Yorkshire venue, also known as Town Moor, is a left-handed, pear-shaped track, with courses for both Flat and Jump racing. A £34 million facelift, concluding in 2007, transformed it into one of the most modern in Europe. As for Doncaster’s ruffians, they’ve moved on, replaced by real horse connoisseurs. When the venue staged Britain’s first Sunday race meeting in 1992, 23,000 people turned up… even though betting was not allowed on the Sabbath.

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Getting there

Doncaster Racecourse,
The Grandstand,
Leger Way,
Doncaster,
DN2 6BB

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@davereversRP That's Vibrant Chords! Unfortunately every time the camera went near Limato he darted back inside his box.