Memories Of The Doncaster Cup
As the 2021 Cazoo St Leger Festival gets closer and closer, we're taking a look back at some interesting stories of the Doncaster Cup, the oldest race currently run under the rules of horse racing!
1. A lowly-rated maiden, Askar Tau, improved by almost four stone in the space of fourteen months when stepped up in trip by his handler Marcus Tregoning. He won seven races in that period, climaxing with a last-gasp victory in the 2009 Doncaster Cup. Repeatedly denied a clear run, he shot through a small gap on the rails to get his head in front with just 75 yards to go.
2. The ten-race winner Times Up took the Doncaster Cup in 2012, trained by John Dunlop. The veteran handler was about to retire after a career saddling over 3,500 winners. The horse won the November Handicap here two years before to prove his liking for the big galloping track. He just held on from the fast-finishing High Jinx.
3. Times Up scored the last of his ten career victories in the 2013 Doncaster Cup, beating High Jinx, a repeat of the 1-2 in the 2012 race. He was saddled by Ed Dunlop, the son of that year’s successful trainer. It was the third of Ryan Moore’s four winning rides in the race. The runner-up franked the form by taking France’s premier stayers’ race, the Prix du Cadran, the following summer.
4. The mare Estimate, who won the Ascot Gold Cup in 2013 to the obvious joy of her owner, The Queen, secured the final win of her career in the following year’s Doncaster Cup. She battled gamely to hold off a host of challengers, to the delight of the big crowd that gathered on Town Moor hoping for a royal victory.
5. The giant Pallasator was bought by Qatar Racing after a string of good performances in handicaps for Sir Mark Prescott. He continued to improve, winning the Group 2 Doncaster Cup in 2015 at the age of six. By then he had become increasingly awkward in the preliminaries and going down to the start, but he was fine once a race began and won ten times in all.
6. Desert Skyline was a rare three-year-old winner of the Doncaster Cup in 2017. He came from off the pace to land a fast-run race in the style of a stout stayer. He maintained a high standard of form in following years but was unable to win again, repeatedly coming up against the exceptional stayer Stradivarius.
7. Stradivarius was the champion stayer from 2018 to 2020, and may take that honour again this year. So far he has won 18 of his 29 races, mostly under Frankie Dettori, including three Ascot Gold Cups. His victory in the 2019 Doncaster Cup was his tenth in a row. It was a relatively easy one, for he frightened off all but four opponents.
8. Spanish Mission won last year’s Doncaster Cup on his second outing for Andrew Balding, outclassing his rivals to score by three lengths. Since then he picked up £365,000 for finishing second in Saudi Arabia, won the Yorkshire Cup, came third in the Ascot Gold Cup and made Stradivarius pull out all the stops when second at last month’s Ebor meeting.