One of Doncaster's most recognisable facets.
Horse racing developed as the coaching trade grew steadily due to our position on the Great North Road. The first horse racing track was established in 1614 and in 1766, the Doncaster Cup was run for the first time, making it the oldest regulated horse race in the world.
In 1776 Anthony St Leger, an officer in the British Army, suggested a race for horses (colts and fillies) aged three, over a distance of two miles originally. The meeting where this idea was first suggested and agreed was held at the Red Lion public house in Doncaster’s Market Place – luckily the pub still stands and a brass plaque commemorates the fact that history was made there! Initially the race had no name, but when it was suggested later on, during a dinner party hosted by the 2nd Marquis of Rockingham, that it should be called the Rockingham Stakes, he famously and very graciously declined, stating that it had been his friend’s idea and so should be named after him – and so the St Leger Stakes it was!
Every year 60,000 people from all over the world descend on Doncaster. A festival atmosphere fills the air with people dressing in their very finest to enjoy a day at the races. Even if you’re not necessarily into horse racing, the atmosphere all around is intoxicating, with a buzz around town for days on end each September. Not only is the St Leger the oldest Classic horse race in the world, it is without doubt the highlight of Doncaster’s social calendar. Doncaster now celebrates with a 10 day festival around the horse racing, St Leger Festival Week, with well over 200 non-racing events from live music to special exhibitions.
Doncaster Racecourse closes the flat racing season in England, but in March every year Doncaster opens it up again for the whole country with the Lincoln Festival. And there are many race meetings in between, including steeple chases during the winter. Doncaster Racecourse has recently undergone a multi-million pound redevelopment, which means that the facilities are second to none. The new five-storey grandstand offers the very finest in dining, with stunning views over the expanse of the famous Town Moor racecourse.
For day out ideas involving Doncaster's rich culture and heritage click HERE.