Doncaster Racecourse Guide

Doncaster Racecourse
Doncaster Racecourse (Oxana Maher /

With 36 meetings throughout the year, Doncaster is one of the busiest dual-purpose (covering both flat and jumps meetings) racecourses in Britain and its central location means you rarely have to travel to far too see the regular action that takes place throughout the year.

It’s a course with an incredibly long history and one that hosts the oldest of the five British Classic races, the St Leger Stakes. While the place may be steeped in history, the facilities today are as modern and vibrant as any you might see anywhere else in the country. With a great mix of old and new, friendly locals and some top class racing, Doncaster is undoubtedly among the tracks in the UK.

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The Course

Hosting flat, hurdle and chase action all year round certainly keeps the ground staff at Doncaster busy. It’s a racecourse with few cancellations because the exceptionally well-draining ground keeps the pear-shaped track in good shape. Only occasionally do conditions turn heavy and testing, so in general speed rather than stamina is the priority here.

Doncaster's flat course is one that is widely considered to be a very fair one, flat throughout with only one slight uphill gradient around the top bend. The long straight, which is flat all the way, is used for races between five furlongs to a mile, although there is always the option of having one mile races beginning on a small stem that pokes out from the round course.

As for the almost two mile jumping course, all races see horses take on the tight corner near the finishing post and the long gradual bend that leads to the run in. While it is galloping in nature, the fast ground has been known to suit speedier types. Unlike the flat course which runs directly on the outside, it can often provide jockeys with a difficult time especially when on novice chasers and there is a fairly high casualty rate because of this.

Major Races

Doncaster has a great selection of big races including one of the most prestigious flat contests of them all, the St Leger Stakes, the last of the five annual Classics. It has been running since 1776 and is also the final leg of the English Triple Crown. In 2016, it carried a huge purse of £700,000 and it even has a four day festival in its name, with the race itself taking place on the climactic final day (Saturday).

Whilst it is the oldest of the Classics, he St Leger Stakes is not the oldest race still running at Doncaster. That award goes to the Doncaster Cup which dates back to 1766. The two mile, two furlong affair is one of the top races for stayers and it forms the final leg of the Stayers' Triple Crown, usually taking place on the third day of the St Leger Festival.

Doncaster is also known for marking the start and finish of the main flat season. The Lincoln Handicap is the big race to kick things off and the Racing Post Trophy is the last Group 1 race on the calendar, a contest which is known for attracting some very talented two years olds.

While the focus is more on flat racing at Doncaster, they still hold three Grade 2 hurdle events and two Grade 2 chase events. On top of this, they also host two popular handicap steeplechases, the Great Yorkshire Chase and Grimthorpe Handicap Chase, which take place in January and late February/early March respectively.


Doncaster Racecourse Grandstand
Doncaster Racecourse Grandstand ( /

Doncaster is a very spacious and accommodating course so it can be a great place to go to get your first taste of racing. The atmosphere is invariably good and Leger day aside you should have no major problem getting tickets.

Useful Info

Dress Code

There is no dress code in either the Grandstand or Family Enclosure. In the County Enclosure, smart attire is required from people of all ages, and for the men, this must include a collared shirt and exclude jeans, trainers and sportswear.

For the Premier Suite and Mallard Restaurant, the dress code is at its most strict and smart clothing is essential. Gentlemen must wear both a jacket and tie and any accompanying children must also be well presented.

Ticket Prices

There are four types of basic ticket available at Doncaster for every meet: Family, Grandstand, County and Premier. The prices of these vary depending on what meeting you go to. Family Enclosure tickets are priced from £8 to £17.50, Grandstand Enclosure £16.50 to £39, County Enclosure £21 to £60 and Premier Enclosure £26 to £86.

Most meetings are closer to the cheaper end of the scale, with weekday National Hunt meetings being the most inexpensive time to go. Prices only escalate during the St Leger Festival or when racing is followed by a concert. Discounts ranging from £1 to £5 are available when booking tickets online and pensioners can get a reduced rate in the Grandstand Enclosure.


For adults, annual membership at Doncaster costs £420 but you can get dual membership for £800 if you buy with a friend or partner. Younger racegoers can get cheaper membership; for those aged 22-25 intermediate membership is available for £215 and anyone less than 22 can get junior membership for £150.

Doncaster also offers membership for just the National Hunt season at a cost of £135. The perks of being a member at Doncaster include access to all enclosures (only selected dates for the Premier Enclosure) and the members only bar, a complimentary bring a friend Friday ticket, entry to many reciprocal meetings and access to all of the other 14 Arena Racing Company racecourses.

Getting There

Few train stations are as well connected as Doncaster with direct trains stretching from London to Edinburgh and from Southampton to Manchester. A shuttle bus service takes you between the station and racecourse on race days but you can always choose to walk the two and a half mile trip instead. If you opt for the bus, a single ticket will set you back £1.50 and a return ticket £2.50.

For those of you intending to drive, Doncaster has great motorway links and is just off the M1 but the central location of the racecourse can mean you’ll face a bit of traffic through the town during rush hour. There is also the option of flying to Doncaster Sheffield Airport which is situated around seven miles away.


There are two main areas for the public to park at Doncaster, Car Park C which is free and the more closely situated Car Park A which costs £5 per vehicle.


An engraving of Doncaster Racecourse from 1851
An engraving of Doncaster Racecourse from 1851 (Nathaniel Whittock /

There is evidence of regular racing dating back to the 16th century in Doncaster and although there were attempts made to stop the action due to the number of “ruffians” it attracted, plans for a racecourse were made in 1614 by the local Corporation who took control of it for more than three hundred years.


Racing had originally taken place at Cantley Common but in 1766, in order to cope with the growing crowds, the action was switched to its current home in Town Moor. To celebrate the opening of the new course, Colonel Anthony Saint Leger sponsored and organised a new race to be run, the hugely popular St Leger Stakes.

Two reasonably uneventful centuries passed but then Doncaster received a huge boost following the closure of Manchester and Lincoln racecourses around 1964. Not only did this help increase the amount of spectators to Doncaster but it also meant they now hosted both the Lincoln Handicap and the November Handicap.


The Yorkshire course made history once again in 1992 by being the first to hold a race meeting on a Sunday. Now there’s one for the trivia fans. Although there were no on-site bookies to place bets with, 23,000 people showed up to enjoy the racing and soon after Sunday meetings began appearing around the country.


In 2006, work began on an ambitious £34 million redevelopment of the racecourse. The improved features included the sleek looking, five-tier Grandstand, as well as new conference facilities with over 3,000 square meters of event space. The investment helped transformed Doncaster into a very modern looking venue with a top class reputation and an excellent range of facilities.