The name Leger is synonymous with Doncaster and of course Doncaster Racecourse. The St Leger Stakes is, as you may know the oldest classic horse race in the world, first running in 1776. But where did the oldest classic get its name from?
The St Leger Stakes’ name is derived from its founder, a British soldier by the name of Colonel Anthony St Leger. Born in Grangemellon, County Kildare, Ireland in 1731, Colonel Anthony St Leger joined the British Army after attending Eton College. As well as being a successful soldier, Colonel Anthony St Leger also sat as MP for Grimsby between 1768 and 1774; just two years later he established a two-mile race for 3 year-old horses on the Cantley Common in Doncaster. This was to become the St Leger Stakes.
The St Leger Stakes moved to Town Moor (Doncaster Racecourse) in 1778 where a rather impressive grandstand had been erected. When Sir Thomas Gasgoigne’s, Hollandaise was ridden to victory, it was the first St Leger horse to race past a splendid purpose-built and permanent grandstand, the like of which had rarely been seen before on an English racecourse.
And the rest is history … you can enjoy the 2018 St Leger stakes this September 15th. Get your tickets for the William Hill St Leger Festival by clicking here.