Countdown to richest St Leger

Doncaster racecourse home of the St Leger Stakes
Doncaster racecourse home of the St Leger Stakes

The four-day St Leger Festival which begins on Wednesday September 10 at Doncaster, culminates in the oldest Classic race in the world, The Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes on Saturday September 13.

This famous Group 1 contest for top-class three-year-olds was first held at Doncaster in 1776 and is sponsored for the tenth year by Ladbrokes.

Contested over one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards, the fifth and final Classic of the 2014 season has a record prize fund of £650,000 (an increase of £50,000 over last year).

Possible contenders include Kingston Hill (runner-up in the Investec Derby and the winner of the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last October), Romsdal (third in the Derby), Snow Sky, Windshear and Hartnell.

Also on St Leger Day, Doncaster once again hosts an Arabian race on a Classic card in Britain. This is the Group 1 Qatar Racing Equestrian Club International Harwood Stakes, taking the total Prize money for the Festival to over £2 million (and in excess of £1 million on Saturday alone).

There’s a 2pm start to racing on Wednesday (John Smith’s Opening Day), while the action on both Thursday (DFS Ladies Day) and Friday (Socilaites Electric Cigarettes Doncaster Cup Day) gets underway at 1-40 p.m. Ladbrokes St. Leger Day Saturday begins at 2-05 p.m.

On the opening day some of the most popular and successful jockeys from both codes of racing will don the silk in the fifth renewal of the Leger Legends Classified Stakes .

The event, over the straight mile, is sponsored for the fourth time by Clipper Logistics.

The race is in aid of two Yorkshire-based charity projects - The Northern Racing College at nearby Rossington Hall and The Injured Jockeys’ Fund, specifically ‘Jack Berry House’- the rehabilitation facility for retired and disabled jockeys which is being constructed in Malton.

Former St Leger-winning jockeys John Reid and Kevin Darley are set to ride in this special 16-runner race, along with dual Grand National-winning rider, Carl Llewellyn and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer and jockey, Jim Culloty, who is also a Grand National-winning rider.

The first day of the Festival, as well as featuring The Clipper Logistics Legends Classified Stakes, includes The John Smith’s Original Scarbrough Stakes (a Listed race for sprinters over five furlongs), The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Conditions Stakes, The Park Hill Hospital Conditions Stakes, The Nursery Handicap Stakes, The Romero Insurance Brokers Ltd. Handicap Stakes and The Magical Moments On Canvas Handicap Stakes

Style and glamour compliment the racing on Thursday with a host of prizes for the best dressed lady competition. Judges will be circulating in the County and Grandstand Enclosures prior to racing.

Further details can be obtained from: The contest is once again supported by DFS – the UK’s leading upholstery manufacturer and retailer based in Doncaster, who will provide the star prize of a trip for two to New York.

On the track, the highlights on Thursday are the Group 2 DFS Park Hill Stakes for fillies and mares over the St Leger distance, The Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance £300,000 Two-Year-Old Stakes and The Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes (a Group 3 contest for fillies and mares).

The EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Carrie Red Fillies’ Nursery Handicap (two-year-olds), The Ladbrokes Handicap Stakes, The One Call Insurance Fillies’ Handicap Stakes, The DFS Handicap Stakes and The British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes complete the line-up on Thursday.

A trio of famous Group 2 races dominate proceedings on Friday. Some of the best stayers in the business will face the starter in The Socialites Electric Cigarettes Doncaster Cup over two and a quarter miles, 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 John Smith’s Extra Smooth May Hill Stakes.

Two famous record-breaking steam locomotives built in the railway workshops at Doncaster, ‘The Mallard’ and The Flying Scotsman are celebrated on Friday.

This year’s renewal of The Ladbrokes Mallard Stakes, a handicap contest over the St Leger distance, is complimented for the second year by a Listed race for two-year-olds, The Weatherbys Stallion Book Flying Scotsman Stakes –a race won in 2010 as a juvenile by Frankel, who went on to become the highest-rated horse in the world.

The Frank Whittle Partnership Classified Stakes and the Coopers Marquees Handicap Stakes are also featured.

The St Leger Stakes takes pride of place on Saturday, and along with the Group 1 Arabian race, a quality programme also features the Group 2 At The Races Champagne Stakes for leading two-year-olds with Classic and big-race aspirations for next year.

There is also the OLBG Park Stakes (another valuable Group 2 race), the Ladbrokes Portland (a Handicap for sprinters), the Napoleons Casinos & Restaurants Handicap Stakes, the AgriArgo UK Tractor Challenge Nursery Handicap Stakes and the Harriet De-Vere Powell Handicap Stakes.

Both the S Leger and the Socialites Electric Cigarettes Doncaster Cup are part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, now in its fourth season, which culminates in QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday, October 18.

Accompanied children under 18 years of age are admitted free into all enclosures.

Musical entertainment during the Festival is provided by The New York Jazz Band, Simply Strings and Jumpin’.

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.