New sponsors put Goodwood race on the road to the St Leger

Encke wins the 2012 Gordon Stakes - before going on to beat Camelot in the St Leger  Picture by Malcolm Wells
Encke wins the 2012 Gordon Stakes - before going on to beat Camelot in the St Leger Picture by Malcolm Wells

Goodwood have announced Neptune Investment Management is to sponsor the Gordon Stakes from 2013 for an initial five-year term as part of a new Road to the St Leger initiative.

The Group 3 race proved its worth as a Ladbrokes St Leger trial again this year, with the winner of the year’s final Classic, Encke, having been a very close second at Goodwood on July 31.

The third horse in the Gordon Stakes, Michelangelo, also finished in the same position in the Ladbrokes St Leger.

The Gordon Stakes produced the St Leger winner in 2010 (Arctic Cosmos), 2008 (Conduit), 2006 (Sixties Icon), 2000 (Millenary), 1998 (Nedawi), 1988 (Minster Son), 1984 (Commanche Run) and 1971 (Athens Wood) since 1970.

The Gordon Stakes, founded in 1902, is run over a mile and a half at Glorious Goodwood each year.

The new sponsorship from the firm founded by Robin Geffen will boost the prize money in 2013 by 25 per cent to £75,000 (£60,000 in 2012).

The Road to the St Leger initiative involves, at present, three Neptune Investment Management-sponsored races, the Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes and two races at York including the Group 2 Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes over a mile and a half at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival in August.

It mirrors the series of races the company sponsors over jumps which culminates in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Adam Waterworth, managing director of Goodwood Racecourse, commented: “It is great news that Neptune Investment Management will sponsor the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood from next year as part of the new “Road to the St Leger” initiative.

“Neptune Investment Management wants to be associated with races which support the middle distance horses and, with this in mind, already supports another major St Leger trial, the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, which Encke also ran in.

“The Gordon Stakes, from the last seven runnings, has generated more St Leger winners (four) than the Great Voltigeur (three) so it will be fascinating to see which of these two Neptune Investment Management-sponsored races does best in this respect in future.

“There has been a history of thrilling finishes to the Gordon Stakes. Noble Mission beat Encke by a nose in this year’s contest, while Namibian scored by a neck in 2011, Rebel Soldier held on by a head in 2010 and Conduit triumphed by the same margin in 2008.

“As well as producing plenty of St Leger winners, the Gordon Stakes has also helped shape the careers of two other outstanding horses in the last decade. Harbinger won the Gordon Stakes in 2009, the year before he took the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot by 11 lengths and was rated the world’s best racehorse.

“Phoenix Reach, the 2003 Gordon victor, went on to win three Group One races across the world, the Canadian International, the Hong Kong Vase and the Dubai Sheema Classic after finishing third in the St Leger.”

Geffen said: “Neptune Investment Management is delighted to be working with another of the world’s leading Flat racecourses during a festival as significant as Glorious.

“The British racing programme is unique, as are its array of racecourses, and the trials in the build-up to the St Leger, the final Classic race of the year and often contested by both colts and fillies, continue to gain popularity with both the horsemen and racing public alike.

“We look forward to working with Goodwood to enhance the growth of the Gordon Stakes.

“At Neptune, we pride ourselves in nurturing and developing young talent, be that our own employees, or through our educational and arts projects.

“We continue to be committed to provide a race programme for the middle distance champions of the future.”

Mike Dillon of the St Leger sponsor Ladbrokes welcomed the “Road to the St Leger” initiative.

He said: “We are delighted that Neptune Investment Management thinks the same about the middle distance division as we do.

“We will be fully supportive of the “Road to the St Leger” initiative involving the two Neptune Investment Management-sponsored Group-class St Leger trials.”

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