On this day in history….24th September 1776

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….

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….

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

On this day in history….3rd April 1993

On this day in history : 3rd April 1993 – After a series of events at the start, including protesters on the course, the Grand National ends in chaos and the race is declared void….

An estimated 300 million people around the World watched the shambles unfold live on television at the Aintree racecourse in Liverpool….img_2704

The problems had started even before the race had begun…. Fifteen animal rights protesters had managed to get on to the track near to the first fence…. After a delay, whilst the protesters were dealt with, the horses and riders were requested to line up again….

What then followed was farcical….two false starts caused by horses becoming tangled with the starting tape…. It was on the second false start that 30 out of 39 riders failed to realise what was happening…. Keith Brown, the starter – and who was officiating his last race before his retirement – had raised the red flag but it had not unfurled…. The crowd shouted to the jockeys to stop and officials attempted to flag them down….

Eleven riders completed the first circuit before realising…. Another seven carried on oblivious – completing the two laps of the four and a half mile gruelling race with its thirty obstacles….only realising their mistake on their finish….

Esha Ness, a 50-1 outsider ridden by John White, crossed the finishing line first….ironically in the second fastest time in the race’s history…. What would have been the 147th running of the Grand National was declared void by the Jockey Club – and the race was not rerun…. Bookmakers faced refunding £75m placed in bets….

An inquiry was launched leading to a number of changes to the starting and recall procedures of the Grand National….