A masterful ride from Mickael Barzalona on board 25/1 shot Encke crushed the Triple Crown hopes of Camelot as the youthful jockey sprinted clear on board the Godolphin raider and Joseph O'Brien was unable to reel him in the closing stages and was forced to settle for second place in the final Classic of the season.
O'Brien was very patient on board the three-times Classic winner and turning for home he looked to be coasting, but Barzalona made his move at the three furlong pole and his raider duly picked up to pull three lengths clear. Camelot was closing in the dying strides, but was unable to bridge gap and was beaten fairly cosily in what was a memorable renewal.
2012 Ladbrokes St Leger Result:
1. Encke (M Barzalona) 25/1
2. Camelot (J O'Brien) 2/5 Fav
3. Michelangelo (F Dettori) 10/1
The St Leger Stakes is the final Classic of the British flat season and is run at Doncaster towards the end of each season; it is also the final part of the English Triple Crown for three-year-old horses following on from the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby. It is perhaps the toughest leg of the Triple Crown to win for any horse who has won the 2000 Guineas and the Derby as it is run over the furthest distance, it is very rare to find a horse who has the pace to win the Guineas over a mile and the stamina to win over 1 mile 6 furlongs at Doncaster in the St Leger.
The St Leger is the oldest of the classic races in the UK having first been run all the way back in 1776 when it was won by a horse called Allabaculia. Since then we have seen some of the best staying three-year olds win the race at Doncaster with perhaps the most famous of them all being Nijinsky who of course completed the Triple Crown at Doncaster when winning in 1970. Nijinsky was a sensational horse and his win in the St Leger was perhaps his most famous victory as he wrote his name into the record books, and he remains the last horse to pick up the Triple Crown. Another St Leger record breaker is Sixties Icon who stormed to victory in 2006 in a record time of 2m 57.29s for Frankie Dettori and trainer Jeremy Noseda, in fact he remains the only horse to break the magical three minute barrier since timing began in 1950.
Punters are well advised to take note of the St Leger trial races through the season with the Great Voltigeur Stakes is perhaps the most telling of those, the Voltigeur is run at the Ebor Meeting at York in August and often proves to be the final prep race for some of the horses heading to Doncaster the following month. Lucarno is one horse that did the Voltigeur and St Leger double in 2007 for John Gosden and it would be no surprise to see that as a popular route this season. John Gosden has a great record in the St Leger over recent years and he also has the most recent winner of the race in his yard having won in 2010 with the excellent Arctic Cosmos claiming the win at Doncaster.
Like the other classic races in the UK, the St Leger has spawned several different versions around the world with top class equivalents in Ireland and Italy among many other countries. This serves to highlight the important of the St Leger which is one of the great races on the calendar in the UK; it continues to be a target for the big yards as well as being one of the biggest betting races of the season for punters.