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Monday, August 31, 2010


The Ladbrokes St. Leger Stakes – the 234th running of the world’s oldest Classic race on Saturday, September 11 – is the centre-piece of the prestigious four-day Ladbrokes St. Leger Festival, which starts on Wednesday, September 8.

Record prize money of over £1.9 million is up for grabs over four days of top-class action which showcases some of the most famous contests in British racing. There’s a 2-00 p.m. start to racing on Wednesday (Welcome To Yorkshire Day) and Thursday (DFS Ladies Day); the action on Friday (Welcome To Yorkshire Doncaster Cup Day) gets underway at 1-35 p.m., while Ladbrokes St. Leger Day Saturday begins at 2-05 p.m. Accompanied children under 16 years of age are admitted free of charge into all enclosures.

Racegoers are in for a treat on the opening day, when some of the most popular and successful jockeys from both codes of racing will don the silks one more time in the inaugural Fudge & Smudge Leger Legends Classified Stakes over the straight mile – the third race on the programme. The race is in aid of two northern-based charity projects - The Northern Racing College residential course facility at nearby Rossington Hall and former trainer Jack Berry’s aspiration for a northern-based Injured Jockeys’ Fund facility. In a star-studded line-up, former champion jockeys and St. Leger-winning riders on the Flat, Pat Eddery and Kevin Darley are joined by other top Flat jockeys, George Duffield, Ernie Johnson, John Reid, Alex Nicholls (nee Greaves), Gay Kelleway, and Dale Gibson, along with champion jockey over Jumps, John Francome and other notable riders over Jumps, Steve Smith-Eccles, Tony Dobbin, Jamie Osborne, Charlie Swan, Graham Thorner and Micky Hammond. Racing journalist and former Flat racing jockey, Tom O’Ryan is also in the saddle.

The presentations will be made by local owner Mrs. Barbara Wilkinson and the legendary Lester Piggott, as he celebrates the 40th anniversary of the great Nijinsky winning the 1970 St. Leger – the last horse to win the coveted ‘Triple Crown’.

Sponsored for the sixth year by Ladbrokes, The St. Leger Stakes on Saturday boasts prize money of £500,000 and Doncaster’s flagship race – a Group 1 contest over one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards – is set to attract the very best three-year-olds, as they compete in the final Classic of the season. The former champion jockey, Frankie Dettori will be searching for his sixth success in the famous race when he is expected to partner Rewilding, the ante-post market leader with the race sponsors after his scintillating victory in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York. Top Irish trainer, Aidan O’Brien has recorded three winners in the big race, and he has half a dozen entries, including Midas Touch, runner-up to Rewilding at York, along with Joshua Tree and Cape Blanco. Newmarket trainer, John Gosden is chasing a third victory in the Classic, and Arctic Cosmos is third favourite with the race sponsors, while Lincolnshire-based trainer, James Given could also be hunting Classic glory, courtesy of Dandino, successful in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot and a winner back in April at Doncaster. Dandino is owned by many members of the Elite Racing Club, who could be cheering him on at Doncaster. The dual Oaks winner, Snow Fairy is also a possible contender for Newmarket trainer, Ed Dunlop.

The winning owner will receive the specially-commissioned St. Leger Trophy, designed by Jeff Durber of Sheffield Hallam University. The successful trainer will receive The Dick Hern Trophy – a bronze by Doncaster sculptor, Bryan Howard – presented in memory of the six-times St. Leger-winning trainer, while the winning jockey will be presented with the traditional, coveted Jockeys’ Cap.

The opening day of the Festival, Wednesday, is Welcome To Yorkshire Day, as the body responsible for promoting tourism in the county supports the Festival for the first time. Along with The Fudge & Smudge Leger Legends Classified Stakes, other highlights include The Scarbrough Stakes, a Listed contest for sprinters over five furlongs, The Wilson Field Neurocare Conditions Stakes, The Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Handicap Stakes, The Arena Structures Nursery Handicap Stakes, The A.J. Webb & Sons Fresh Produce Suppliers Conditions Stakes and The 2010 Launch Stratstone Land Rover Doncaster Handicap Stakes.

Style and glamour compliment the racing on Thursday – DFS ‘Ladies Day’ – with superb prizes to be won in Doncaster’s ‘Best Dressed Lady’ competition due to take place after the first race in the winners’ enclosure – judges will be circulating in the County and Grandstand Enclosures between noon and 1 p.m. Further details can be obtained from: www.doncaster-racecourse.co.uk The winner will receive a package which includes the use of a car for a whole year, courtesy of DFS – the UK’s leading upholstery manufacturer and retailer based in Doncaster, who sponsored at last year’s Festival as part of the company’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

Then, after the second race, the winner will then join the finalists from each of the Yorkshire racecourses to compete for the title of ‘Best Dressed Lady Racegoer in Yorkshire 2010’. The overall winner will receive a weekend’s pampering at the local, award-winning renowned Best Western Premier Mount Pleasant Hotel Doncaster.

On the track, the highlights on Thursday are the Group 2 DFS Park Hill Stakes for fillies and mares over the St. Leger distance and The Weatherbys Insurance £300,000 Two-Year-Old Stakes, The Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes (a Listed race for fillies and mares), The European Breeders’ Fund Carrie Red Fillies’ Nursery Handicap (two-year-olds), The Meadowhall Fashionista Handicap Stakes, The DFS Handicap Stakes and The crownhotel-bawtry.com Maiden Stakes.

A trio of famous Group 2 races dominate proceedings on Friday – Welcome To Yorkshire Doncaster Cup Day. Some of the best stayers in the business will face the starter in The Doncaster Cup over two and a quarter miles (won last year by Askar Tau, ridden by the champion jockey, Ryan Moore), while juvenile sprinters advertise their credentials in The Polypipe Flying Childers Stakes. Precocious two-year-old fillies have their opportunity for big race success in The Doncaster-racecourse.co.uk May Hill Stakes.

The record-breaking steam locomotive built in the railway workshops at Doncaster, ‘The Mallard’ is celebrated in The Ladbrokes Mallard Stakes, a handicap contest over the St. Leger distance, while two-year-olds take part in The Frank Whittle Partnership Conditions Stakes. The Brakes Fresh Ideas Handicap Stakes and The Universal Recycling Classified Stakes are also featured.

The Ladbrokes St. Leger Stakes takes pride of place on Saturday, and a quality seven-race programme also features the Group 2 Neptune Investment Management Champagne Stakes for leading two-year-olds with Classic aspirations for next year, The Eddie Stobart Park Stakes (another valuable Group 2 race), The Ladbrokes Portland Heritage Handicap for sprinters, The Doncaster Premier Inn & Table Table Handicap Stakes, The Powell Engineering Nursery Handicap Stakes and The AgriArgo UK Tractor Challenge Handicap Stakes.

Attractions for youngsters on Saturday in the Family Enclosure include face painting, bouncy castle, circus workshop and a craft tent

Big screens will enable racegoers to follow all of the action on the track, while a shuttle bus service is operating between the railway station and the racecourse, starting in the morning and returning after the fourth race with a stop off on the way back in the town centre.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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