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.

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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.

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).

St Leger Stakes – A history of heroes

Continued…

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?

The St Leger Stakes – a history of heroes…

As the flat racing season flows on towards the St Leger, speculation is rising as to who will line up on the Town Moor this September and which of these contenders will leave the stalls as favourite. With the longest roll of honour in racing, The St Leger is steeped in significance and has featured some of the most notable horses in British history. As the world of racing begins to wonder who will return to the winner’s enclosure this year, let us not forget the horses whose successes have galvanised the status of the race since its inception in 1776.

The story begins with Allabaculia, a bay mare owned by Lord Rockingham. She was of unknown breeding and, as was common at the time, remained nameless throughout her whole career. After her win in the 1776 St Leger stakes she was mistakenly listed as a colt and only when 19th century racing publications were discovered was it was revealed that the filly was known as Allabaculia. The St Leger began to rise to prominence in 1800 when a horse called Champion headed to Doncaster having won the Epsom Derby. Yorkshire born and bred, Champion hailed from Tadcaster. After winning the Derby on his first ever run, he repeated this success in the St Leger having started as 2/1 favourite. Amusingly, Champion was by a sire named Potoooooooo. The horse was meant to be named ‘potato’, but when the stable lad was instructed to write the name on the stable door he mistakenly heard the name as Pot & 8 o’s – hence the bizarre spelling! The owner of the horse, The 4th Earl of Abington, was tickled by the misunderstanding and so the name stuck. It would be 48 years before Champions Derby-Leger double would be repeated.

Nijinsky 1970
Nijinsky after his 1970 St Leger victory

In 1848 a colt named Surplice, owned by Lord Clifden, won the Epsom Derby by a neck. Heading next to Doncaster, a false start didn’t affect him and his Derby formed was confirmed by another win in the St Leger, again by just a neck. Just two days later Surplice ran again and this time his reputation was so formidable that not a single opponent turned up to contest him and he won the race by default, just having to walk over the winning line to collect his prize. Another dominant winner was the 1896 champion, a colt named Persimmon. Heading to the St Leger start he was watched anxiously watched by his owner, the then Prince of Wales. Having won the Derby that June, Persimmon started as 2/11 favourite in a field of six runners, four of whom were available to back at prices of 66/1 or more. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the colt found victory easy and continued on a winning streak that would see him take first prize in seven of his nine starts. Persimmon went on to become the most influential sire of his time. One of his offspring, a filly named Sceptre, continued his legacy by not only winning the St Leger, but by winning both the 1902 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas within two days of each other. Her next stop was the Derby, where a bruised foot meant she could only come home in fourth; she avenged this defeat however by winning the Oaks just two days later. Her season only improved when she took the 1902 St Leger, galvanising her status as one of the most outstanding mares ever to take to the turf. Her record as the outright winner of four classics still remains unchallenged. Another brilliant filly to win the St Leger was Pretty Polly, bred in Ireland in 1901. In a remarkable career that saw her win 22 of her 24 starts, Pretty Polly won every race of significance for fillies and outdid all of the colts to win the St Leger on Town Moor in 1904.

In 1933 another legend of racing was created, Hyperion. Sired by Gainsborough, himself a Triple Crown winner who took the St Leger in 1918, Hyperion was owned by the 17th Earl of Derby. Fittingly he followed Prince of Wales and Chester Vase victories by a win in the Derby itself. St Leger success then rounded off an outstanding three year old season in which he was unbeaten, and his success on the turf was matched when at stud. The leading sire in 1940, 1941, 1942, 1945, 1946 & 1954, Hyperion represents a key part of the history of the thoroughbred and even produced a colt to emulate his St Leger success – Sun Chariot in 1942.

The English Triple Crown has proved notoriously difficult to win. Several horses have won the first two legs of the series, The 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Derby at Epsom, but found the St Leger a step too far. The most recent success was that of Nijinsky in 1970. Bred in Canada, Nijinsky was trained at Ballydoyle in Ireland by the late Vincent O’Brien. Beaten only twice from 13 runs, Nijinsky not only won the English Triple Crown, but managed to intersperse these wins with victories in both the Irish St Leger and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Nijinsky contracted ringworm prior to his English St Leger win, and was nursed back to health on a diet of raw eggs and Irish stout. The treatment must have been effective as the colt won comfortably, securing the last leg in the Triple Crown title that he still holds.

To be continued…

Introducing Mastery

Mastery is a comprehensive knowledge or skill in a particular subject or activity. In 2009, a horse called Mastery won the World’s Oldest Classic, The St Leger Stakes. In 2017, Doncaster Racecourse sets out to honour both of these definitions with its new private hospitality facility, The Mastery Restaurant. DON065 Mastery Restaurant - FB POST 5Carefully positioned to provide an extraordinary view of the winning line, guests will have use of an exclusive lawn rolling from the restaurant doors to the running rails. Inside, diners are treated to welcome drinks upon arrival and a three-course chef’s buffet followed by after-lunch coffee. Guests will then to soak up the atmosphere of Yorkshire’s biggest raceday as world-renowned horses and jockeys take to the turf just meters away. Also included are a light afternoon tea and a cash bar with full table service, making the Mastery experience a fully inclusive and unforgettable day out.