And we’re off – the town comes alive for the Leger

Leger legends: Racing legend Lester Piggott (centre) with the former famous jockeys who took part in last year's Fudge and Smudge Leger Legends Classified Stakes on The Welcome To Yorkshire Day at Doncaster Racecourse.
Leger legends: Racing legend Lester Piggott (centre) with the former famous jockeys who took part in last year's Fudge and Smudge Leger Legends Classified Stakes on The Welcome To Yorkshire Day at Doncaster Racecourse.
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DONCASTER is under starter’s orders for the St Leger Festival.

Once again, it promises a huge range of entertainment as Doncaster comes alive to the backdrop of the world-famous racing festival.

Again, the four-day racing card has been turned into a week-long extravaganza which is about much more than just horses, and Doncaster Council has come up with a spectacular programme of events suitable for all the family.

One of the highlights of the opening day at Town Moor is the second ‘Leger Legends Race’, which sees world-famous and successful jockeys from yesteryear compete against age other in a classic race as they look to settle old scores.

The biggest names in the sport’s recent history have between them won over 20,000 races, including Derby and Cheltenham triumphs, and are relishing the opportunity to face each other on the turf once again.

The field will include leading female jockey Gay Kelleway and her American counterpart, Triple Crown winner Julie Krone.

The riders are getting back in the saddle on Wednesday in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund and the Northern Racing College’s bid to raise funds to construct new student accommodation at its Rossington site.

The Leger Legends Race is preceded by a special fundraising lunch which will be attended by St Leger winners from the past, including Lester Piggott, Willie Carson, Edward Hide and Joe Mercer.

The Racecourse itself is gearing up for the biggest week of its year.

Ladies Day is always a highlight of the Doncaster social calendar and Town Moor will host both the local heat of the Best Dressed Lady competition and the Yorkshire final where winners at Ladies’ Day all the county courses compete for the overall title of Yorkshire’s Best Dressed Lady.

Leger Day itself remains the biggest crowd-puller with the big draw the running of the world’s oldest classic race.

In a nod to the economic climate, racecourse bosses are stressing that you don’t have to have big bucks to enjoy a day at the races - £30 packages with Grandstand Enclosure tickets, a race card and a snack are on offer for opening day.

Over the four-day racing festival, the 60,000 guests are expected to glug 5000 bottles of champagne. 10,000 bottles of wine, nearly 18,000 jugs of Pimms and line their stomachs with the equivalent of 300 whole sheep and 150 cows.

Other highlights of the Festival Week include a Roman soldiers’ camp at Doncaster Minster, the Doncaster Live Music Festival - which features dozens of local bands playing in the markets area - a Medieval Autumn Fayre, heritage walks, a chance to see the iconic Vulcan bomber as it once again lands at Robin Hood Airport, a ‘Music in the Park’ event at Sandall Park and a Leger champagne brunch at the Mansion House.

The full event listing can be found at www.visitdoncaster.com/stleger, for racing www.doncaster-racecourse.co.uk

n The Inside Line by John Pullin - Page 94