Doncaster goes ahead with crowds as racing holds its breath

The St Leger Festival kicks off at Doncaster today.
The St Leger Festival kicks off at Doncaster today.

Doncaster will host the first day of the St Leger Festival with a crowd as planned on Wednesday, despite last night’s announcement from the Government that stricter protocols were on the way. 

The racecourse is set to host four pilot events this week as sport slowly builds towards the safe return of spectators, with 2,500 people due to attend on Wednesday, and a maximum crowd of 6,200 on each of the next three days. 

However, the Government announced on Tuesday evening that tougher lockdown measures are due to be reintroduced this coming Monday (14th September), casting doubt over whether crowds will be allowed to attend the full meeting. 

It proved to be a similar situation at last month’s Goodwood Festival, when a test event of 5,000 people on Stewards’ Cup day was shelved at the eleventh hour, and there’s fears that this latest pilot scheme could also be knocked back.

Mark Spincer, Managing Director of Doncaster races, stressed that the racecourse hadn't been told anything, and they were pressing ahead to hold all four days as planned.

He told Nick Luck's daily podcast earlier this morning: “As far as we’re aware, we go ahead. The bookmakers are just arriving, and we’ve had no correspondence to say the pilot has been anything but approved.  

“We’ve become aware via social media at this stage, I don’t know if we’ve received anything formal, but there’s likely to be an update at four o’clock this afternoon. 

“As far as we’re away, today definitely goes ahead and we’re preparing for the next three days as we would do, until someone tells us otherwise.”

Doncaster is due to host a crowd on all four days of its St Leger Festival, and there are also due to be test events at Warwick (21st September) and Newmarket (24th-26th September) this month.

Five to follow at the St Leger Festival

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