THE DONCASTER ST LEGER STAKES

Anthony St Leger was born in February 1731 at Grangemellon in County Kildare, the fourth son of Sir John St Leger who was a judge. He was educated at Eton College and Peterhouse, Cambridge, the oldest of the Cambridge colleges.  At the age of 30 he married Margaret Wombwell in 1761 and they returned to her native Yorkshire in 1762 to live on the Park Hill Estate in Firbeck.  After leaving the 124th Regiment of Foot, where he reached the post of Lieutenant-Colonel, he became MP for Grimsby between 1768 and 1774. He established his own oval racecourse on the Park Hill Estate on which he trained the racehorses he bred at his stud. In 1776 he, along with the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, Charles Watson-Wentworth, established a race for 3 year olds over 2 miles to be run at Doncaster. Contested on Cantley Common for the first time on Tuesday 24th September 1776, and moved to its present location on Town Moor Doncaster just two years later, the St Leger is the oldest of the 5 Classic races. The idea of the name ‘St Leger Stakes’ was first muted at The Red Lion Inn in the Market Place, Doncaster in 1778 and was due to be called the Rockingham Stakes after the Marquess of Rockingham, but it was finally agreed that it should be named after Anthony St Leger of Park Hill.

It takes place each September and is run over 1 mile 6 furlongs and 115 yards. During the First World War, between 1915 and 1918, the race was staged at Newmarket over a mile and 6 furlongs of the Rowley Mile course when it was known as the September Stakes. Although the only year the race has not be held was in 1939 because of the outbreak of the Second World War, the race was transferred to Thirsk in 1940 when it was known as the Yorkshire St Leger; transferred to Manchester in 1941 when known as the New St Leger; between 1942 and 1944 it was transferred to Newmarket’s Summer Course when known as the New St Leger, and in 1945 it was staged at York when it was known as the St Leger Stakes. This site provides a comprehensive history of the St Leger; every winner, runner, owner, trainer and jockey and, where available, video clips of the majority of races run since the early 1900s. Every Classic winner has now been rated using times (the 1810 St Leger was one of the earliest occasions when a winner's time was provided), winning distances and strength of opposition. A very useful survey was carried out by the Sporting Times in May 1886 when 100 Jockey Club Members, owners, trainers, jockeys and tipsters were invited to list the top 10 racehorses. To see the results of that survey click here.

Note that the image shown opposite is of John Hayes St Leger, nephew of Colonel Anthony St Leger (1731 - 1786), and is in the public domain being by the artist Thomas Gainsborough who died in 1788.

Today the land and farm, that part of the Park Hill Estate which still remains, is owned by Mrs Julia Colver, although sadly the house was pulled down in 1935 and only the outbuildings remain. Park Hill (pictured above centre) started off as an Elizabethan farm house and then two Georgian wings were added.  Anthony had a daughter who died young and an illegitimate son William, who was brought up by his mother in Ireland.  He did well in the army.  Anthony left his estate to John Hayes St Leger (pictured above left), but he died in India aged 30.  He went to fight over there, but was ill when he arrived. Anthony St Leger ‘s close links with the Firbeck area are still remembered in a number of ways, not least the St Leger Arms in Laughton en le Morthen, (which is now closed and is a private residential home) 2 miles from Firbeck, the Park Hill Stakes which is still run at Doncaster, and the blue plaque displayed in Firbeck which Frankie Dettori unveiled in about 2012 (above right). A descendant, Julian St Leger, still owns half of the oval field, top centre on the map (above left, taken from a book by Moyà St Leger about the family history and the Classic race) sadly the estate was broken up, but it still remains an oval field.  In Anthony's day it was a large estate and he owned more land at Laughton, a neighbouring village.  There was a horse trough in the centre of the oval field, as well as a plaque of some description, but they have long since gone.  Anthony St Leger died aged 55 on 19th April 1786 and is buried in Saint Anne’s church in Dublin.

Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders of all scans in this section of the site.  Some contributors have asked to be acknowledged for their contributions and their wish has been granted. If anyone thinks they own an image used then contact the site owner.

History of 2000 Guineas; History of the 1000 Guineas; History of the Epsom Derby; History of the Epsom Oaks

If you have access to further artefacts which will enhance the site then email johnwslusar@gmail.com so that your items can be included.

            1776 1777 1778 1779
1780 1781 1782 1783 1784 1785 1786 1787 1788 1789
1790 1791 1792 1793 1794 1795 1796 1797 1798 1799
1800 1801 1802 1803 1804 1805 1806 1807 1808 1809
1810 1811 1812 1813 1814 1815 1816 1817 1818 1819
1820 1821 1822 1823 1824 1825 1826 1827 1828 1829
1830 1831 1832 1833 1834 1835 1836 1837 1838 1839
1840 1841 1842 1843 1844 1845 1846 1847 1848 1849
1850 1851 1852 1853 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859
1860 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869
1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879
1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889
1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 No race
1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016  2017     

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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