Pilot Status Confirmed For Doncaster St Leger Festival


26 August 2020

Arena Racing Company (“ARC”) and Doncaster Racecourse are delighted to confirm that the four-day St Leger Festival meeting has been granted ‘pilot status’ to trial the return of the crowds to live sport. 

Since the return of horseracing in Britain on 1 June, all meetings have operated on a strictly behind closed doors basis, with only the participants directly required to operate the meeting granted access.  Latterly, a restricted number of racehorse owners have been also been allowed admittance. 

It has now been confirmed that the four-day meeting, featuring the World’s oldest Classic, the Pertemps St Leger Stakes, will play host to a limited crowd on each day from Wednesday 9 to Saturday 12 September. 

In accordance with the stringent health and safety requirements of Public Health England, the Local Authority and British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Doncaster Racecourse is set to welcome a maximum of 3,640 general admissions on the Wednesday, rising to 6,202 general admissions for the following three days. 

Racegoers will be able to purchase tickets in advance via www.doncaster-racecourse.co.uk, from Friday 28 August, with a variety of different enclosures and hospitality options available.  Tickets will only be available for purchase in advance, with no tickets available on the day.  A new code of conduct will be in place for all attendees along with a number of additional facilities to allow racegoers to maintain social distancing, personal hygiene and other measures. 

Managing Director of ARC’s Racing Division, Mark Spincer said, “We are delighted that the Government and Local Authorities have taken the decision to allow us to pilot the return of a crowd at Doncaster Racecourse. We were very proud to host the return of racing behind closed doors at Newcastle at the beginning of June and are grateful to the Government for showing confidence in us to host this event.” 

“As with all sport and other live events, welcoming a crowd is absolutely fundamental to our business as well as being the heart and soul of the spectacle.  The team at Doncaster have worked incredibly hard on making sure that we have all of the steps in place to welcome a limited number of spectators in a safe and efficient manner and we are really looking forward to welcoming people back on site to enjoy four excellent days of racing.” 

“The event is, of course, a pilot so the experience may be different than customers may have got used to in previous years but we are putting everything in to making sure that our customers can have an enjoyable afternoon’s racing as well as offering valuable feedback to the process of allowing crowds back to sporting events more generally.” 

“The impact of the national lockdown has been immense on the racing industry, as it has been to all sports and live events businesses.  Whilst we have been delighted to get back to work behind closed doors, our industry and many others rely massively on crowds, so to get this pilot event is a huge step in the right direction for all of us.” 

“I would particularly like to thank our colleagues at BHA, the Racecourse Association, other racecourses and everyone across the sport who have been particularly helpful in sharing ideas and expertise at this difficult time. We know that we may still be subject to the vagaries of the current situation beyond our control, but we will ensure that we get the elements that are under our control right and that our customers can enjoy coming racing once again.” 

MP for Doncaster Central, which includes Doncaster Racecourse, Rt Hon Dame Rosie Winterton, said, “The St Leger Festival is a hugely important event for Doncaster and the region and, having lobbied the Sports Minister to support the bid, I am delighted that it has been approved to host a pilot event for the return of crowds. 

“I very much look forward to Doncaster playing host to what will be such an important step forward for not just the Racecourse but for the racing, sports and live events industries as a whole.” 

Jockey Tom Marquand commented, “I’m really pleased to hear that there will be a crowd admitted to the St Leger Festival at Doncaster in September.   

“Whilst we have been relieved to be back racing, the lack of crowds over the summer really has been noticeable. As jockeys, we are all very aware of the atmosphere that the crowds bring to our sport, particularly at the major meetings, so I’m really looking forward to hopefully having a few rides in front of the public at Doncaster.” 

For full information regarding the 2020 Doncaster St Leger Festival, to purchase tickets, or to see a Q&A with further detail about the arrangements in place for the meeting, please visit www.doncaster-racecourse.co.uk.  

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