Entries increase for The President of The UAE Cup on St Leger Day

The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) was thrilled to announce today that the entries for the 2017 President of the UAE Cup (UK Arabian Derby) have more than doubled on last years’ figures. With 26 possible runners for the final Group 1 of the UK Arabian racing season, they include three existing Group 1 winners, headed by Nafees, winner of the French equivalent at Chantilly in June. The President of the UAE Cup is the oldest Purebred Arabian race series and it is fitting that it is to be run on the same card as the UK’s oldest thoroughbred classic, the St.Leger, on Saturday 16 September at Doncaster.

Run over a mile and a quarter, The President of the UAE Cup resumed its’ association with the UK Arabian Derby last year and is exclusively for four-year-old Purebred Arabians. Sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, it boasts a prize fund of £80,000, with £40,000 to the winner.AK0_9507

ARO Racing Operations Executive, Gemma Cobb was delighted with the numbers saying: “The number of entries received is a great step forward for UK Arabian racing. With 18 international entries, together with eight domestic entries, it is a huge increase on the 11 received last year. It just shows what a welcome addition to the European Pattern this race is, as it is the last race confined to both sexes of the classic generation of 2017.

“The prize money boost for this race which was implemented last year, has encouraged a strong potential line up of Group winners and Group placed horses. It is also encouraging to note that the first three home in last years’ contest have all won Group 1 races this season, further enhancing the races’ Group 1 status.”

ARO Director, Genny Haynes was also pleased commenting. “We were excited to welcome back the President of the UAE Cup last year and are extremely grateful to the Abu Dhabi Sports Council for their generous support of our feature race for four-year-olds. Moving the race from Ladies Day to St Leger Day itself this year, further enhances the prestige of the race and the status of Arabian racing in the UK, with it being run as part of Doncaster’s most prestigious meeting of the year.”

Off-track entertainment at The William Hill St Leger Festival

The William Hill St Leger is one of Yorkshire‘s finest social and sporting occasions. Held over four days from the 13 to the 16 September, each day is themed to create an atmosphere off track that rivals the thrill of the action on the turf.

On Friday 15 September, Doncaster Racecourse are looking forward to welcoming The Krazy Keys to Town Moor. Helping us celebrate Gentleman’s Day, The Krazy Keys are an experienced and energetic female fronted party band with an eclectic repertoire covering modern pop, dance and rock to the old school funk hits. Able to ignite any audience, the 4-piece will be taking over our Hallam FM Champagne Lawn as soon as racing finishes.

Having performed all over the world alongside artists such as Mariah Carey, Bruno Mars and John Newman, the band have decades of stage experience including partaking in the X Factor, The Eurovision Song Contest and The London Olympics. They have appeared at The Hammersmith Apollo, Ronnie Scotts, Wembley Arena, Shepherds Bush Empire and The Ritz Hotel to name but a few!KK

When the fourth and final day of The William Hill St Leger rolls round we will be joined by Doncaster-based band Hi-Fi Deluxe. Having performed alongside greats like Percy Sledge, Candi Staton, The Temptations, Ben E King, and Smokey Robinson, these globe-trotting musicians have taken to the stage at renowned venues such as The Royal Albert Hall, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, The Jazz Cafe, The United Nations in New York, The Monteux Jazz Festival and even Disneyland!

Hi-Fi Deluxe perform an incredible repertoire including Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Beyonce, Amy Winehouse, Daft Punk and Bruno Mars. An incredible blend of Swing, Ska, Soul, Disco & Pop, Hi-Fi Deluxe promise to keep the on-track adrenaline flowing once the excitement of The William Hill St Leger has come to a close.

The Doncaster Cup

Before the St Leger came The Doncaster Cup…

When we speak of the William Hill St Leger Festival, the status of the St Leger Stakes as the World’s Oldest Classic often dominates conversation. Established in 1776, it may well pre-date any other classic but there is an older race to be found on the card amongst the four-day St Leger Festival. Scheduled for the Friday, the Doncaster Cup pre-descends the St Leger Stakes by ten years with its inauguration taking place in 1766. Initially a mammoth four mile contest, the same distance as the Grand National, the race is now run over a distance of two miles and two furlongs. Still considered a race for high-stamina ‘stayers’, the Doncaster Cup makes up one leg of the Stayers’ Triple Crown, a three stage championship that includes the Ascot Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup. The Doncaster Cup is a Group 2 contest with a prize fund of £100,000 which has attracted some of the sport’s finest trainers, jockeys and horses since its inception more than 250 years ago. The first horse to really define the Doncaster Cup was the four-time winner Beeswing. Taking the race for the first time in 1837, the mare would return to the winner’s enclosure on three consecutive occasions after regaining her title in 1840. A huge crowd favourite of her time, Beeswing retired after her fourth win in 1842 and subsequently had several foals. She clearly passed along her love of the Town Moor turf to her offspring as amongst them was 1848 St Leger Stakes winner, Newminster.Doncaster Cup

Another racing legend with incredible success in the Doncaster Cup is none other than Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen has had an incredible five winners in the race throughout her years of involvement with the sport. Her first win came in 1956 thanks to Atlas and her luck in the race continued when Agreement scored back to back wins in 1958 and 1959. All three wins were the handiwork of the Royal trainer, Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, but it was Ian Balding at the helm for the 1970 success of Magna Carta. The most recent Royal winner came in 2014 when Ryan Moore partnered Estimate to pass the winning post one and a quarter lengths ahead of Times Up, who had been victorious in the two previous years.

Despite having his winning streak ended by Estimate, Times Up still provided a fantastic story of human interest. He first won the race in 2012 for trainer John Dunlop who was set to retire shortly afterwards. A year later his son, Ed, had taken over his Newmarket yard and in almost cinematic fashion he managed to train Times Up to win a second Doncaster Cup. Another significant and supremely popular multiple winner was Double Trigger. The namesake of the Double Trigger bar here at the racecourse, the much-loved chestnut claimed his first Doncaster Cup win in 1995 and followed it up by scoring a repeat victory in 1996. He returned to make it three in a row in 1997 but could only finish a distant fourth as he lost his crown to Canon Can. Like all great comeback stories, Double Trigger returned for vengeance and was once again crowned the Doncaster Cup champion when winning the 1998 in what would be his last ever run. His trainer, Yorkshire-based Mark Johnston described him as ‘one of the best there has ever been’ and he is commemorated by the Racecourse with a bronze statue located near the Grandstand Entrance.

Sheikhzayedroad wins the 2016 Doncaster Cup

Unusually for a race of such a distance, The Doncaster Cup has recorded three separate dead heats. In 1901, 1953 and 2004 the judge could not separate the first and second placed horses, even with the help of a photo finish technology in 2004! As the William Hill St Leger approaches and speculation rises as to who will line up on Town Moor in September, we look forward to adding another name to our longest roll of honour.

The William Hill St Leger Trophy

A synonymous part of the William Hill St Leger Experience has become the unique St Leger trophy gifted to the winner of the World’s Oldest Classic. Created in 2007 to celebrate the redevelopment of Doncaster Racecourse, the inspiration behind the trophy was to create a modern piece of silverware that remained classic and timeless. Considering the need to upkeep the modern appearance of the trophy, the design evolved into a two part piece.

Leger Trophy1 - 2008
The 2008 version of The St Leger Trophy

The outer rose water dish, hand wrought and created from approximately 10 kilograms of silver, is detachable from the central rose bowl. Each year the rose bowl is redesigned to ensure each St Leger trophy is totally unique. The outer dish remains as the William Hill St Leger trophy with the inner bowl gifted to the respective winning owner.

Last year’s trophy was the creation of professional silversmith and Sheffield Hallam University lecturer Chris Knight. Chris’ work was inspired by a major theme in the branding of the William Hill St Leger Festival, the Yorkshire Rose. His work on the rose bowl resulted in a beautiful golden crown of twigs, each with three leaves, settled in the middle of the iconic Yorkshire rose which is forged from silver. This year we look forward to presenting a unique version of the William Hill St Leger trophy to the owner lucky enough to own the 2017 winner of the World’s Oldest Classic.

Strong field of 45 entries for The William Hill St Leger

The 2017 William Hill St Leger Stakes has attracted 45 entries from Great Britain, Ireland and France. st leger
This exceeds the 42 entries received in 2016 and 29 in 2015.
The World’s Oldest Classic will be run on Saturday 16 September at Doncaster Racecourse with a total prize fund of £700,000.
The sponsors, William Hill, make Aidan O’Brien’s CAPRI favourite at 4/1, one of a total of eighteen entries from Ballydoyle.
Entries extend across the Channel with SHAKEEL entered from the yard of Alain de Royer Dupre, currently priced at 8/1. The last French winner of the race was the Andre Fabre trained Toulon in 1991.
Four time St Leger winning trainer John Gosden has a total of six entries which include CORONET and STRADIVARIUS, the sponsors current co third favourites at 10/1 along with REKINDLING (Joseph O’Brien) and RAHEEN HOUSE (Brian Meehan).
A win for Joseph O’Brien’s first runner REKINDLING would see him become the first person to both ride and train a winner of the world’s oldest Classic since Harry Wragg completed the feat in 1969.
William Hill’s Head of Sponsorship PR, Tony Kenny, said: ‘This is a very strong field of entries for the William Hill St Leger, but following Capri’s win in the Irish Derby at the Curragh earlier this month, we have installed him as the favourite at 4/1. This is the first year of our involvement with the race and we are very much looking forward to seeing which of the forty five entries move forward and come to Doncaster in September for the World’s Oldest Classic.’
William Hill St Leger: (Sponsors bet) 4/1 Capri, 8/1 Shakeel, 10/1 Coronet, Raheen House, Rekindling, Stradivarius, 14/1 Defoe, Khalidi, 16/1 Crystal Ocean, Permian, 20/1 Benbatl, Count Octave, Orderofthegarter, Venice Beach, Yucatan, 25/1 Best Solution, Douglas Macarthur, Glencadam Glory, Sir John Lavery, 33/1 Atty Persse, Exemplar, Melodic Motion, Sofia’s Rock, Spanish Steps, Taj Mahal, 40/1 Bin Battuta, Horseplay, Master Singer, Pouvoir Magique, The Grand Visir, 50/1 Best Of Days, Abyssinian, Air Supremacy, Belgravia, The Anvil, Utah, Zenon, 66/1 Cape Coast, Dubawi Prince, Finn McCool, San Remo, Squire’s Tale, Tuff Rock, World Stage, 100/1 Dark Pearl – (EW 1/5 1-2-3).

Crafting Live at Doncaster Racecourse

On Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 July, the Crafting Community descended on Doncaster Racecourse for The annual Crafting Live event. Hosted by Stephanie Weightman, craft show presenter and passionate crafter, the award-winning event remains hugely popular amongst new and experienced craft lovers.AK0_5895.jpg

The exhibition hall was bustling with over 75 separate stalls, offering everything from paper craft materials to wools and yarns for knitting. The Doncaster Racecourse site was ideally suited to such an event, with perfect spaces both inside and out and enough room to accommodate a great range of workshops and seminars.

Providing thousands of craft products and materials all under one roof, all craft interests where catered for. With our exhibitors stocking stamps, dies, decoupage, fabric, ribbon, beads and everything in between, guests were able to stock up on materials whilst taking inspiration for future projects. Alongside this, workshops were running throughout the two days covering everything from lace work to cards.

AK0_5936In its 8th year, the event drew in crowds of over 6000 across the two days. A free shuttle bus was available, running between the racecourse and Doncaster train station for those not driving, and ample free parking for those who where. The Racecourse also provided a great array of dining options with our food hall open for guests throughout the event and ample room for crafters to sit down and rest between workshops, seminars and shopping.

As ever the event was brilliantly attended with a fantastic, creative atmosphere. Crafting Live always draws a passionate crowd and is an event the racecourse looks forward to hosting each year. The event has already received some incredibly positive feedback and so we thank the team at Crafting Live and of course the 2017 attendees!

St Leger Stakes – A history of heroes


1977 saw a Royal winner cross the St Leger winning line. Dunfermline was owned and bred by Queen Elizabeth 2nd and despite winning just three of her twelve starts, she clearly knew when and where to exert herself as both of her victories came in Classic races. After winning the Epsom Oaks she headed to Doncaster and defied her starting price of 10/1 to win the last classic of the season. These efforts saw her rated as the best three year old filly in Europe at the time.

1985 crowned another exceptional filly, this time it was the Henry Cecil trained Oh So Sharp. Owned and bred by Sheikh Mohammed, Oh So Sharp’s career saw her win seven of her nine runs. In an outstanding three year old season she won the Nell Gwynne Stakes, The 1,000 Guineas and the Epsom Oaks before cementing her status by winning the St Leger here at Doncaster. She was unquestionably the outstanding three year old filly of her time and as a broodmare she produced another St Leger winner in the way of Shantou in 1996.

1987 saw Henry Cecil take another St Leger title, this time with a colt named Reference Point. After victory in the Dante Stakes, The Epsom Derby and the King George, Reference Point arrived at Doncaster a clear favourite for the season’s final Classic. He won easily, earning himself the accolade of ‘British Horse of the Year 1987’.Silver Pat 1997

A notable St Leger winner who was famously denied Derby success was Silver Patriarch. A popular grey colt, he was beaten by just a short head in the 1997 Epsom Derby after a tight photo-finish in which he looked to many like the winner. He came to Doncaster to avenge himself and he did, a popular victory amongst his supporters. It was more than ten years later that the namesake of one of our Doncaster Racecourse restaurants, Conduit, came to the fore. Conduit’s career had a fairly inauspicious start, rated a humble 79 after his first season, the chestnut colt’s star only began to rise when he turned three. Improving his two year old rating by a huge 46 pounds, Conduit won the 2008 St Leger by three lengths before scoring two Breeder’s Cup victories in addition to the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes of 2009.

As with all famous races, some horses gain more fame for losing than they would for having won. Such is the case for 2012 runner-up Camelot. After the bay colt won both the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby, Camelot’s owners decided to target the St Leger in a bid to become the first horse since Nijinsky to win the English Triple Crown. After much frenzied press coverage, Camelot was sent off as 2/5 favourite but could only finish second by three-quarters of a length to Encke. Since Camelot’s failed bid to land the Triple Crown, no other contender has come forward.

One of the most dramatic and controversial St Leger victories has to be that of 2015 heroine Simple Verse. After finding herself trapped on the inside rail entering the last quarter of a mile, Simple Verse collided with the favourite, Bondi Beach. Despite crossing the line marginally ahead of her rival, a steward’s enquiry decided to reverse the placings and named Bondi Beach the winner. Simple Verse’s owners pursued an appeal and challenged the decision with the sport’s governing body, the BHA. After a lengthy hearing, the ruling was reversed and Simple Verse was at last crowned the 2017 St Leger Champion.

The most recent chapter of the St Leger story involves the first ever female trainer to win the race. 2016 victor Harbour Law was trained by 36 year old Laura Mongan, based in Epsom. The story continues on the 16 September 2017…who will be the hero?