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The Doncaster Cup

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The Doncaster Cup is a Group 2 race for three-year-olds and older horses and run over 2 miles and 2 furlongs (3,600 metres), making it a key race in the QIPCO British Champions Series Long Distance category. Established in 1766, it is Doncaster’s oldest surviving race, pre-dating the St Leger by 10 years. Along with the Gold Cup at Ascot and the Qatar Goodwood Cup – both feature in the QIPCO British Champions Series – it forms part of the Stayers’ Triple Crown.

It has its fair share of great racing stories to tell as well. Like the one about Beeswing, the legendary mare who won the race a record four times between 1837-42 and who was so popular that the Scottish village of Lochend changed its name to Beeswing in the horse’s honour. And what about the tale – or rather, tail – of Double Trigger, who won three times in the 1990s. The seven-year-old stallion seemed to be past his best when he enjoyed an Indian summer in his final season to win the cup for a final time in 1998.

Racing followers are always trying to uncover the secret of a horse’s success but this one sounds as bizarre as they come. One of Double Trigger’s owners attributed the horse’s revival in part to the decision to stop plaiting the horse’s tail, which he believed made him more relaxed.

More recently, Times Up won it twice in 2012 and 2013, first for trainer John Dunlop and then for his son, Ed, following John’s retirement at the end of the 2012 season.

Current leading jockey: Frankie Dettori, 3 wins (1994, 1996, 2006), Ryan Moore 3 wins (2009, 2013, 2014)
Current leading trainer: Mark Johnston, 3 wins (1995, 1996, 1998)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money




No/Draw Horse/Jockey Age Form/Type BHA Rating Weight Trainer Odds


Desert Skyline rises to the occasion

Desert Skyline indicated he could become a standing dish in the QIPCO British Champions Series for years to come with victory in the the Doncaster Cup.

The three-year-old gelding, trained by David Elsworth, came from last to first under Silvestre De Sousa to put older rivals in his place.

He was not winning out of turn, his consistent efforts this year including a third behind Stradivarius and Big Orange in the Qatar Goodwood Cup.

High Jinx and Pallasator led the nine-strong field into the straight, but both eventually faltered. Sheikhzayedroad, seeking back-to-back wins, hit the front with two furlongs to run, but was soon followed through by Willie Mullins-trained Irish challenger Thomas Hobson and the nine-year-old Clever Cookie.

However, none of that trio had any answers when Desert Skyline arrived on the scene late in the day and he powered clear to score by a length and a half. Thomas Hobson beat Sheikhzayedroad to the runner-up spot by a head, with Clever Cookie clear of the rest in fourth.

Elsworth, who won the Doncaster Cup with the hugely popular Persian Punch in 2003, said: “I was pleased with him, of course, as he’s only a three-year-old. He had a weight-for-age concession, but it’s tough out there.

“It’s not like driving a car around the M25 and you just pull out and go! It looked like that, but they’ve got to dig deep and work hard. There’s not a lot of him and it’s quite a big call to run a three-year-old over two and a quarter miles, but he’s tough.

“He’s run consistently well at a high level and you’ll hear more of him next year.”

He added: “I had no idea he was going to be a stayer. As a two-year-old he was naughty so he needed cutting (gelding), I’m sure he wouldn’t be as good if we hadn’t.”

Thomas Hobson has been talked up as a possible contender for this year’s Melbourne Cup, but owner Rich Ricci is not committing to a trip to Australia just yet.

He said: “It’s a big punt, Melbourne, because, rightly so, there’s no help with the Melbourne Cup. It’s all self-funded and it’s expensive, so you want to make sure you go there with a fighting chance.”


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The Course

Doncaster’s local authorities tried to ban horseracing a few years ago – well, 400 years ago, to be exact – because of the hordes of ruffians that the races attracted.

Eventually, they gave up, marking out a racecourse instead. The result? One of the country’s biggest horseracing centres and the home of two of the world’s oldest races, the Doncaster Cup and the Ladbrokes St Leger. Both feature in the QIPCO British Champions Series

The south Yorkshire venue, also known as Town Moor, is a left-handed, pear-shaped track, with courses for both Flat and Jump racing. A £34 million facelift, concluding in 2007, transformed it into one of the most modern in Europe. As for Doncaster’s ruffians, they’ve moved on, replaced by real horse connoisseurs. When the venue staged Britain’s first Sunday race meeting in 1992, 23,000 people turned up… even though betting was not allowed on the Sabbath.

Find out about racing at Doncaster

Getting there

Doncaster Racecourse,
The Grandstand,
Leger Way,

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