On this day in history : 24th September 1776 – The St. Leger, the World’s oldest classic horse race, is run for the first time at Cantley Common, Doncaster….

Colonel Anthony St. Leger, an army officer and politician, founded the five horse race…. The original distance was 2 miles and the rules stipulated that colts and geldings were to carry 8 stone in weight with an allowance of 2 pounds for fillies….

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Charles the Twelfth beats Euclid in the deciding heat of the St. Leger, 1839 – John Frederick Herring – Public domain

The very first race, which was still to be officially named – and was referred to as ‘A Sweepstake of 25 Guineas’ – was won by an un-named filly owned by the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (who also happened to be the event organiser)…. It was at a dinner party in 1777 that the race was christened the St. Leger Stakes – after its founder…. It had also been suggested it be named after the Marquess as the ‘Rockingham Stakes’….

Nowadays the St. Leger is run at Doncaster each year in September – it is open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies over a distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 115 yards (2,921 metres)…. This year the race was held on the 14th of September and was won by Logician, ridden by Frankie Dettori, his sixth win of the classic race….

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Doncaster Racecourse, home of the St. Leger – Image courtesy http://www.badobadop.co.uk CC BY-SA 3.0

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