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Race Course Gazeteer

  Principal Race Courses in the U.K.

    Berkshire: Ascot, Newbury

    Cheshire: Chester

    Lancashire: Haydock

    Middlesex: Sunbury

    Northumberland: Newcastle

    Suffolk: Newmarket

    Surrey: Epsom, Esher

    Sussex: Goodwood

    Yorkshire: Doncaster, York

    Ireland: County Dublin

    Ireland: County Kildare

    Scotland: Ayr


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Geographic Listing Ordered by County and Month
Compiled and Written by Nigel Pullen


YORKSHIRE -- Doncaster

The Town Moor at Doncaster served as a race course since the late sixteenth century. By the mid-eighteenth centuy racing was firmly established on the site, supported by the Doncaster Corporation, which offered plates and money as prizes to encourage it. The Doncaster Gold Cup is the oldest still-recognizable race held there, first run in 1766; the St. Leger, which began as a sweepstakes on a course nearby, was moved to the site in 1778. The course is about a mile and seven and one-half furlongs in circumference, and is mostly level, with the exception of a low hill a mile and one-half from the winning post.
Below: Doncaster Cup 1870 won by Sornette; 1835 Doncaster Cup, won by Touchstone; Doncaster Grand Stand in 1830
Doncaster course diagram

Doncaster Cup trophyDoncaster Cup runningDoncaster Grand Stand


First Run: 1858
Month Run: March
Venue: Doncaster, Yorkshire, England
Distance: 1 mile
Status:Handicap for 4 year olds and upwards
As its name implies, this handicap was originally run at Lincoln racecourse. The 1902 renewal saw the three-year-old debut of a filly named Sceptre, who, after trying to make all was caught in the last stride by the year older St. Maclou. Sceptre soon made up for this defeat by becoming the only horse to have won four of the five English Classics outright. Sceptre returned to contest the Lincoln the following year, conceding over a stone to the entire field, and could do no better than fifth. With the closure of Lincoln racecourse the race was moved to Doncaster in 1965, to be run on the straight mile. Today it is the first major handicap of the English Flat Racing season, and is a race in which the draw plays a key role. It always draws a large field, although nothing like the 58 runners in 1948, which was record for a race run under Jockey Club rules.


First Run: 1776
Month Run: September
Venue: Doncaster, Yorkshire, England
Distance: 1mile 6 furlongs 132 yards
Status: Group 1 for 3 year olds
The oldest English Classic, the St. Leger was first run on Cantley Common, Doncaster, in 1776, as "A Sweepstakes," before transferring to its present location on the Town Moor two years later. It was renamed at that time after a prominent local sportsman, Lieutenant General Anthony St Leger, and was run over two miles until 1813, when its distance was shortened to 1 mile 6 furlongs and 193 yards. Those 193 yards were reduced to 132 in 1826 and further down to 127 in 1970, before reverting back to 132 in 1991. Moved around the country during the war years, the St Leger was run at Newmarket from 1915 to 1918, at Thirsk in 1940, Manchester in 1941, back at Newmarket in 1942 to 1944, and York in 1945. In 1989 subsidence in the Doncaster straight forced the race to be abandoned, and run at Ayr the following Saturday.
With the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby it forms the third leg of the English Triple Crown, a title last won in 1970 by Nijinsky II. Doncaster is a wide, galloping track with a daunting 4 furlongs home straight, and this makes the race a real test of stamina.


First Run: 1766
Month Run: September
Venue: Doncaster, Yorkshire, England
Distance: 2 miles, 2 furlongs
Status: Group 3 for 3 year olds and upwards
First run in 1766 as the Doncaster Gold Cup, this is one of the oldest races still run under Jockey Club rules. Together with the Ascot Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup, it forms the stayers' "Triple Crown" of "Cup" events, and the only horses to achieve this honour in the same season are Isonomy (1879), Alycidon (1949), Souepi (1953), Le Moss (1979 and 1980), Longboat (1986) and Double Trigger (1995). The great 19th century mare Beeswing won the race four times.


First Run: 1855
Month Run: September
Venue: Doncaster, Yorekshire, England
Distance: 5 furlongs 140 yards
Status: Handicap for 3 year olds and upwards
Run on the straight course at Doncaster, this race usually draws a large field of the best sprint handicappers. It only ran once during World War II, in 1941 at Newmarket. There were problems of a different kind in 1989, when a subsidence of the course, due to drainage work, caused three of the horses to fall, and resulted in subsequent races, including the St. Leger, being transferred to Ayr.


First Run: 1961
Month Run: October
Venue: Doncaster, Yorkshire, England
Distance: 1 mile
Status: Group 1 for 2 year olds
Originally the brainchild of Timeform founder Phil Bull, this race was introduced in 1961 to provide a worthwhile opportunity for high-class two year olds bred to stay. Then known as the Timeform Gold Cup, subsequent change of sponsorship meant it was run as the Observer Gold Cup between 1965-1975 and the William Hill Futurity from 1976-1988; adopting its present title in 1989. It is run over the one mile round course at Doncaster, a flat galloping track which makes it a tough test for a juvenile, especially as the race is often contested on soft ground.


First Run: 1876
Month Run: November
Venue: Doncaster, Yorkshire, England
Distance: 1 mile 4 furlongs
Status: Handicap for 3 year olds and upwards
Originally known as the Manchester November Handicap, the race was transferred to Doncaster in 1964, after the closure of Manchester racecourse. There was a change of venue between 1942 and 1945, when the race was run at Pontefract. Always scheduled for the final day of the English Flat Racing turf season, it has lost much of its prestige in recent years, now drawing a field of ordinary handicappers.



First Run: 1843
Month Run: August
Venue: York, Yorkshire, England
Distance: 1 miles 6 furlongs
Status: Handicap for 3 year olds and upwards
The historic city of York was an important town in Roman times, a fact that is reflected in the name of this race, for the Roman name for York was Eboracum. The race is now the most valuable handicap of its type in Europe, and is a chance for progressive three-year-olds to take on the more seasoned staying handicappers. In 1973 Peleid finished second in this event before going on the win the St Leger, and in 1958 Ebor Handicap winner Gladness went on to win the Ascot Gold Cup. The race was run at Pontefract in 1943 and 1944.


First Run: 1972
Month Run: August
Venue: York, Yorkshire, England
Distance: 1mile 2 furlongs 110 yards
Status: Group 1 for 3 year olds and upwards
A relatively new race established in 1972. The first running of this event saw the only defeat of the mighty Brigadier Gerard, when he finished second to Roberto. The race quickly became a target of the top middle distance horses.


First Run: 1922
Month Run: August
Venue: York, Yorkshire, England
Distance: 5 furlongs
Status: Group 1 for 2 year olds and upwards
This race was really established in 1922, although between 1903 and 1921, York did host an event known as the Nunthorpe Selling Stakes. During 1943-1944 the race was run at Newmarket. It has now developed into one of the major sprint races of the season. The race is one of the few Group races where two-year-old are allowed to take on their elders, and juveniles to win the event include High Treason, My Beau, Ennis and Lyric Fantasy.


First Run: 1922
Month Run: August
Venue: York, Yorkshire, England
Distance: 1 mile 4 furlongs
Status: Group 1 for 3 year old fillies and upwards
York races were first run on the Knavesmire in 1731, and they are still held on that same expanse of common land, which was originally a site of public hangings. The course is left-handed, wide, flat with easy sweeping turns.
Originally a race for three-year-old fillies, this event was opened to older fillies and mares in 1991. It provides an interesting opportunity to compare the merits of classic middle distance fillies of different generations.

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