The county of Yorkshire is a real hotbed of horseracing action, with the land of the white rose boasting a total of nine racecourses. No surprise then that many of the UK’s most popular Ladies Days take place in the county.
Of those Yorkshire Ladies Days, one of the highest profile comes at the historic track of Doncaster in South Yorkshire. Featuring as part of the four-day St. Leger Festival, this September showstopper is comfortably one of the most well-attended fixtures of the year at “Donny”. In addition to a quality racing card, the track pulls out all the stops in terms of additional entertainment and can be relied upon to provide a cracking atmosphere throughout.
Doncaster Ladies Day is a key feature of the four-day September St. Leger meeting, which celebrates Britain’s oldest Classic horse race. The meeting runs from Wednesday through to Saturday, with Ladies Day taking place on the Thursday ahead of the eponymous showpiece on the Saturday.
With additional entertainment in the stands, including a competitive Style Awards competition – which awarded £1,000 cash to the winner in 2022 – there is plenty to keep racegoers occupied between races. Turning to the action on the track, a total of seven exciting contests are on offer, with the first getting underway at 1:10pm and the last commencing at 4:15pm.
Gates open at 11am should you wish to settle in early and perhaps grab a drink or bite to eat. Following the racing action, a live music act keeps the party going until around 6pm – so don’t forget to bring those dancing shoes!
Doncaster offers four main ticketing options for its signature Ladies Day of the year. Whilst being slightly higher than for a regular meeting, the prices compare favourably with many other high-profile Ladies Days in the country.
From £12.50 – Located alongside the home straight, the track’s cheapest option still provides excellent views of the racing. Featuring a covered grandstand area, catering, and betting facilities, this area is the number one choice for those bringing the kids along. However, as an alcohol-free zone, this may not be the best option for a group looking to really get into the swing of Ladies Day.
From £25 – Home to no fewer than eight bars, in addition to providing access to the food hall and Champagne court, this area has all you need for an excellent day out. Sitting at the mid-point of the home straight, the view of the racing action is also top-notch.
From £40 – Located right next to the Grandstand Enclosure, and bang in line with the winning post, this area provides a selection of higher-end food and drink options, the highlight of which is the swish Champagne Lawn.
From £85 – With a strictly limited capacity, this area offers a raceday with a more personal touch. Located in a glass-fronted suite on the third floor of the Grandstand, this area provides the very best views of the track and food and drink options to match.
From £195-£330 – Those seeking the ultimate in luxury may wish to consider one of the track’s excellent hospitality packages. Offering champagne receptions, three-course gourmet meals, afternoon tea, and an inclusive bar, these deals are popular with many Ladies Day groups. See the hospitality section of the track’s official website for full details.
The prices quoted above refer to a single adult ticket when purchased in advance. Groups of six or more will receive a £2 discount per ticket when booking and paying for their tickets in advance of the meeting.
Ladies Day is marketed as the only event of the season where the focus on fashion matches the attention paid to the action on the track. And just as the dresses and millenary efforts on display are of an impressively high standard, so too is the racing.
In common with several UK Ladies Days, the main events on the track see the spotlight shine on the female performers i.e. fillies and mares. Expect a real buzz in the betting ring ahead of the May Hill Stakes over 1m, and the Park Hill Stakes over 1m6f. Both races are classified as Group 2 events (close to the top of the tree in terms of quality) and invariably attract an extremely high class of performer.
Exciting handicapping and juvenile contests make up the rest of the card, with one of the standouts being the opening Silk Series Handicap for female riders only. Horse racing is one of just a small number of sports where men and women can compete equally and so it is great to see female jockeys to the fore.
They have been racing in this corner of South Yorkshire for over 400 years now, with tales of early events in the area dating all the way back to 1595. No surprise then that Doncaster is home to not only the UK’s oldest Classic contest in the form of the St Leger, but also the oldest continually running race held anywhere in the world in the Doncaster Gold Cup.
These days visitors to the track may spot the odd nod to that rich history, but overall, this is an impressively modern facility. Now owned by the Arena Racing Company (ARC), who are the largest racecourse operator on these shores, the track has benefitted from regular investment over the years. The most significant upgrades came in relatively recent times, with ARC pumping a massive £34m into the track – the headline addition being the erection of an imposing five-storey grandstand, complete with private suites and a wide range of bars and excellent restaurants.
Doncaster now boasts four separate stands, in addition to a handy on-course Holiday Inn for those who wish to stay over before or after racing. You are sure to find a good time no matter which area of this vast site you choose to attend, but it is still nice to know a little more about what to expect when booking those tickets. With that in mind, we conclude by selecting a few of the highlights found within each of the main enclosures.
This area grants access to all facilities contained within the County Stand in addition to the following:
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