“Fantastic” four-day festival back to full force

JUST shy of 50,000 spectators attended Doncaster Racecourse for this year's St Leger Festival – including Their Majesties the King and Queen.
The 2023 St Leger Festival at Doncaster Racecourse (credit Andrew Kelly Photography)The 2023 St Leger Festival at Doncaster Racecourse (credit Andrew Kelly Photography)
The 2023 St Leger Festival at Doncaster Racecourse (credit Andrew Kelly Photography)

The four-day event welcomed King Charles III and Queen Camilla to watch their horse, Desert Hero, compete in the Betfred St Leger Stakes.

Racegoers also got their chance to bid farewell to Frankie Dettori as he competed in his final Classic before his retirement.

The royal couple's Desert Hero came third behind Frankie Dettori's mount Arrest, while Continuous, ridden by Ryan Moore, took home the first-place prize.

The festival began with Ladies Day for the first time in the event’s modern history and concluded – also for the first time – with the inaugural St Leger Community Funday drawing enthusiastic families, friends, and individuals to celebrate the spirit of unity and festivity.

The success of the 2023 Betfred St Leger Festival comes after recent years being impacted by unprecedented events with Covid limitations in 2020 and The Queen's death being announced during last year’s festival.

This year saw crowds attend in their thousands as well as new title sponsors Betfred come on board, with organisers saying the event was “back to full force.”

Rachel Harwood, executive director of Doncaster Racecourse, said: “What a fantastic four-days here in Doncaster for the Betfred St Leger Festival.

“Our ‘Made in Doncaster’ theme shined through each and every day and I’d like to thank everyone who attended for making this one of the most memorable St Leger Festivals in years.”

South Yorkshire Police reported the festival had passed “largely without incident”, with four arrests for assault, theft and drugs offences.Chf Supt Cherie Buttle, commander for this year’s festival, said: “The St Leger Festival is always a fantastic and much-anticipated event in Doncaster, and this year was no different.“I’m very pleased to say that all four days passed largely without incident.

“Our officers were on patrol around the racecourse each day, working with our partners and event organisers to ensure that everyone was able to enjoy the festival safely.

“We hope everyone who attended had a great time, and look forward to welcoming people back next year.”