Doncaster racecourse has 36 meetings every year, making it one of the busiest courses in Britain. It’s centrally located, meaning that you don’t have to travel far to catch a horse racing action.
The course has a long and interesting history. Adding to this, it hosts St. Leger Stakes, one of the oldest British Classic Races. Though the racecourse is old and has a rich history, its facilities are vibrant and modern. Moreover, it has a perfect mix of new and old, top-class and friendly local racing.
Let’s see what the course has to offer and why it’s considered one of the best horse racing tracks in the UK.
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Doncaster Racecourse history
There’s evidence of horse racing in Doncaster as early as the 16th century. And even though there were numerous attempts to stop horse racing action due to the high number of ruffians it attracted, plans for building a racecourse started to take shape in 1614 when the local Corporation took control of the space for three centuries.
In the beginning, horse racing was held at Cantley Common. However, in 1766, and to cope with the growing number of horse racing enthusiasts, the races were moved to Town Moor. During the course’s opening, Colonel Anthony organized and sponsored a new race which was dubbed as St. Leger Stakes.
Unfortunately, after the grand opening, two not-so-exciting centuries passed. A big break came when Doncaster received a big boost after the closure of Lincoln and Manchester racecourses in 1964. Their closure not only helped to increase the number of spectators attending the races, but it also meant that Doncaster was now the host for the Lincoln and November Handicap races.
A couple of years later, in 1992, Doncaster made history again by being the first course to hold a race on Sunday. Even though there weren’t on-site bookies to take bets, over 20,000 people attended the races, setting a precedent for Sunday horse racing around the country.
Fast forward to 2006, some serious reconstruction worth £34 million started on the racecourse. The improved features included a 5-tier Grandstand, new conference facilities with 3,000 m of space to hold events. The investment transformed Doncaster into a modern racecourse, giving it a chance to compete with top-class racecourses in the land.
Doncaster hosts flat, chase, and hurdle action regularly, keeping the staff super busy. It’s preferred for many races because it has the lowest record of cancellations. The ground is well-drained, which means the track is almost always in good shape. However, from time to time, the conditions become testing and heavy, favouring speed instead of stamina.
The flat course in Doncaster racecourse is considered fair. It’s flat and has only one mild uphill gradient at the top bend. Aside from this, the long straight is flat and perfect for races 5 furlongs, 1 mile long. However, the course can host 1-mile races starting from the small stem protruding from the round course.
Doncaster has a 2-mile jumping course that sees horses negotiate a tight corner as they get closer to the finishing post and a long and gradual bend towards the run-in. While the course is galloping, the ground is better suited for faster horses.
Doncaster main racing events
This is a Group 2 flat horse race that’s open to horses above three years old. It’s run over 2 miles 1 furlong and happens every year in September. The first time it was held was in 1766. At the time, it was called the Doncaster Gold cup.
St Leger Stakes
This is a Group 1 flat horse race that’s open to 3-year old thoroughbred fillies and colts. It’s run over 1 mile and 6 furlongs and takes place in September. The first time it was run was in 1766 and is considered one of the British five classics. Compared to the other five classic races, it’s the longest and is run last yearly.
This is a flat handicap horse race that’s open to horses above four years. It is run for a mile and is held between March and April.
Vertem Futurity Trophy
This is a Group 1 flat horse race that’s open to 2-year old thoroughbred fillies and colts. It’s run over 1 mile and takes place every year in late October. The event was set up in 1961 and was initially called Timeform Gold Cup. It’s the brainchild of Phil Bull and was backed by Timeform until 1964, after which The Observer took over.
Great Yorkshire Chase
This is a National Hunt handicap chase open to horses aged five years and above. It’s run over 3 miles and is scheduled to take place in January every year. The first time it was run was in 1948 and had Sky Bet as its sponsor.
Grimthorpe Handicap Chase
This is a National Hunt handicap steeplechase that’s open to horses over five years old. It’s run over 3 miles and 2 furlongs and has 19 fences. The race takes place between February and March. Before 1980, Grimthorpe was run over 2 miles.
Where to bet on Doncaster races
You can place bets with betting shops around the racecourse or on online betting sites. However, we recommend using online betting sites for a couple of reasons.
Online betting sites
While traditional betting shops have their pros, online betting sites are better. Some of the benefits you get include:
- Betting at any time and from any location
- Horse statistics
- Better odds
- Lots of promotions and bonuses. However, you should be keen on the wagering requirements
How to get to the Doncaster racecourse
The Doncaster racecourse has free parking on non-race days and paid parking on race days. It is connected to the M1, M62, and M18, making it easier to find your way to the course.
Shuttle buses run from Doncaster Interchange rail station on race days to the racecourse.
The Doncaster train station is a 32 minutes’ walk from the course.
Doncaster-Sheffield Robin Hood Airport is the closest airport to the racecourse and has lots of internal flights.
Doncaster racecourse is spacious and accommodating. As such, it’s a great place to get a taste of the adrenaline horse racing offers. The atmosphere is great, and you’ll have no problems getting your tickets. Even better, there are loads of race meetings all year round for you to plan around.
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