The first meeting at the newly redeveloped Doncaster racecourse takes place on Friday (August 17) with the ISG St. Leger Trial Day. Prize money of £124,000 will be on offer and competitive racing on a fully-sponsored programme serving as an aperitif to next month’s four-day Ladbrokes St. Leger Festival.
Racegoers will get the first opportunity to view the new five-story Urban-i stand and the other major work that has taken place at the course over the past 18 months of closure. Adam Waterworth, Managing Director quoted “It will be great to see the turf in use again. I doubt the runners will come across better ground all year. It’s in superb condition, having gone unused for such a long time. The new Urban-i stand will be ready and open but, as we’ve said all along, don’t judge us on Friday, judge us at the St. Leger meeting, when things will be perfect.”
Gates will open at 11am on Friday with the first race of the afternoon at 2-00p.m. The aim of the card is to test the various distance starts that will be applicable at the Ladbrokes St. Leger Festival. Topping the bill is The Merryweathers Celebrating 175 Years Stakes, a £50,000 Heritage Handicap for stayers over two and a quarter miles, sponsored by one of South Yorkshire’s leading independent auctioneers, surveyors, valuers and estate agents – Merryweathers who have been in business since 1832.
The main contractor of the new facilities, ISG, put their name to a handicap race over the round mile, while Sykes Lawn Turf Ltd. of Tickhill support the opening contest – a race for maiden two-year-olds in conjunction with The European Breeeders’ Fund.
The A1 Medical & General Handicap Stakes is a race for sprinters over the extended five furlongs, serving as a trial for The Portland Handicap Stakes at the Ladbrokes St. Leger Festival, while regional train operators, First TransPennine Express support a race for maiden three-year-olds over the extended one mile and a quarter.
One of the county’s most successful independent heart charities, Heartbeat, is highlighted with The Sovereign Health Care Heartbeat Appeal Handicap Stakes over the St. Leger distance of one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards.
A couple of giant screens will enable racegoers to follow all of the action on the track, while attractions for young racegoers in the Family Enclosure include a circus workshop, double-decker play bus, a bouncy castle and face painting, while musical entertainment is provided by The Hookey Band, The Tom Roberts Jazz Band, The Gershwin Band and ‘Pink Champagne’.