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  Monday, 9 September, 2002, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
St Leger: How it all began
Pat Eddery and Toulon after winning the 1991 St Leger
Pat Eddery and Toulon after winning the 1991 St Leger
BBC Sport Online looks back at the history of the oldest Classic - the St Leger.

The St Leger Stakes was founded by Lieutenant Colonel Anthony St Leger in 1776, a successful Irish soldier who later became Governor of St Lucia.

The race first took place on 24 September of that year as a sweepstake for three-year-old horses - it was won by Allabaculia.

It was run over two miles of Cantley Common with a stake of 25 guineas for each horse entered.

Three years later, the venue for the race was moved to a new course on Town Moor, where it takes place to this very day.

  Recent winners of the St Leger
1990 - Snurge
1991 - Toulon
1992 - User Friendly
1993 - Bob's Return
1994 - Moonax
1995 - Classic Cliche
1996 - Shantou
1997 - Silver Patriarch
1998 - Nedawi
1999 - Mutafaweq
2000 - Millenary
2001 - Milan
The length of the course has been reduced to one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards.

During its formative years, the Classic used to attract mainly people and horses from Yorkshire and the surrounding areas.

But word of mouth spread and people were soon flocking from all over the country.

It was an event which excited all classes of people, with Yorkshire miners and their families known to take holidays during the time of the meeting in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The race also attracted royalty in the early 20th century when King Edward VII attended from 1903 through to 1909.

Perhaps the most famous of all the winners during the race's 225-year history has been Nijinsky.

The horse won the Triple Crown (the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby and St Leger) in 1970.

The race has also produced a number of surprise winners.

In 1822, Theodore was so lame at the start of the race, it had more chance of being put down than succeeding.

Theodore's jockey was told to ride for a win. His owner, in a rage, sold all bets on him for 200 to a Mr Mills.

The odds given against Theodore at the start of the race were 1000-5.

But he shocked everyone by leading from start to finish and winning by four lengths, making Mr Mills very rich.

The Classic has taken place every year since 1776, except 1939, when the race was cancelled due to the outbreak of the Second World War.


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