A night at the races, one of life’s great pleasures for millions of people.
Since the ancient world first began horse racing around 3,000 years ago we have watched in wonder – and had a few shekels, groats or drachma on the outcome.
Today racing is a multi-billion pound industry across the globe with its own superstars, glory and tragedy.
Doncaster is one of the oldest and largest established centres for horse racing in Britain, with records of regular race meetings going back to the 16th century.
In 1600 the corporation tried to put an end to the races because of the number of ruffians they attracted, but by 1614 it acknowledged failure and instead marked out a racecourse. And they’ve been pulling in the punters ever since.
The earliest big race in Doncaster’s history was the Doncaster Gold Cup, run at Cantley Common in 1766. The Doncaster Cup is the oldest continuing regulated horse race in the world.
In 1776 Colonel Anthony St Leger founded a race in which five horses ran. The St Leger has remained and has gone on to become the world’s oldest classic race.
Doncaster has the distinction of both starting and ending the flat season on turf. Every September, Doncaster hosts the prestigious four-day Ladbrokes St Leger Festival, which is acclaimed as the premier sporting occasion of the autumn calendar.
Doncaster has also taken races whose traditional homes have closed, such as the Lincoln Cup in 1965.
Now you can be part of that rich sporting tradition with our reader offer in conjunction with Doncaster Racecourse which offers South Yorkshire residents a free evening at the races on Thursday, July 25.
The Town Moor course is inviting people who live in DN or S postcode areas – everyone who lives in Doncaster, Sheffield, Barnsley or Rotherham – to enjoy a free day at the races in the Family Enclosure (note: pre-registration only) on July 25 and there are a number of resident-exclusive enclosure upgrades available at heavily reduced rates.
Local racegoers can take advantage of admission into the County Enclosure for £8 – a saving of £15 – and even enjoy a two-course dinner in the restaurant for £50.
Guests wishing to take up any of the reduced entry offers – including registering for free tickets – must book online in advance.
This race night falls during the Go Racing In Yorkshire Festival – a week-long celebration of the sport in the Yorkshire area.
Mark Spincer, managing director at Doncaster Racecourse, said: “We’re delighted to announce our new initiative where residents of South Yorkshire can enjoy a fantastic mid-summer evening of racing action for free, with some great exclusive heavily-reduced offers also available.
“What’s more, this coincides with the week-long Go Racing In Yorkshire Festival, so what better way to celebrate your county than here at Doncaster Races.”
If you’ve never been racing before here are a few tips on picking a winner.
* The parade ring is the best place to spot a potential winner before the race. When looking at the horse you should be looking for a horse that looks fit and alert, with good muscle tone, walking in a calm and purposeful manner.
* Trainers don’t disclose too much information before the race, but you can be sure that they will pick the right jockey and right horse for the chosen race. An experienced jockey will increase the chances of a win and the relationship between the jockey and trainer is special with many jockeys riding for the same trainer on a regular basis.
* Looking at the recent form of the horse is a must – the last three races run by the horse are listed on the race card close to each horse’s name. Betting odds are also a good indicator of the likely outcome of the race. Horses with shorter odds are more fancied than horses with bigger odds.
Never been to the races before? Confused by bookies, the Tote, each way bets and odds-on favourites? You needn’t be. Racing for some is a chance to see the world’s most highy-trained animals compete against each other.
For others it’s a day of food and drink in your best clothes and for most it’s a chance to try and beat the bookies and take home more money than you went with.
So if you fancy a flutter here’s a novice’s guide to backing a winner.
Bet to Win
The simplest of all bets – your horse must come first.
Two bets: a win bet and a place bet. You are betting on your horse to either win or be placed (finish in the first two, three or four). A £1 each-way bet will cost you £2 (a £1 bet to win plus a £1 bet for a place). If your horse doesn’t win – but comes in the first three you will still receive some money back.
You need to select the first two horses home in the correct order. It’s not easy, but the rewards often reflect that.
Two horses in two races – they must both win. The winnings from the first horse will roll on to the next horse. If both are successful, your winnings will be doubled.
Similar to a double, but with more horses. The winnings roll on to the next selection – or ‘accumulate’.
* See tomorrow’s Star for the free offer
The Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival brings together all nine Yorkshire racecourses for a week long racing and open days spectacular starting on Saturday July 20 at Ripon Racecourse and finishing at Pontefract on July 28.
What’s going on during the week:
July 20 – Ripon
July 21 – Redcar
July 22 – Beverley (eve)
July 23 – Racecourse Open Day at Wetherby Racecourse
July 24 – Catterick
July 25 – Yard Open Morning at Richard Fahey’s, Malton
July 25 – Doncaster (Eve)
July 26 – Thirsk
July 26 – York (Eve) (followed by Kaiser Chiefs performing live after racing)
July 27 – York (followed by Little Mix performing live after racing)
July 28 – Pontefract