Doncaster Cup Betting

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Each year in September, the St. Leger Festival envelopes the Doncaster Cup in an atmosphere of celebration lasting four full days. Day Three is known as Doncaster Cup Day in honour of an event established in 1766, predating the St. Leger Stakes by a full decade and making it the venue’s very oldest continuing race.

Originally known as the Doncaster Gold Cup, this event was first held on the Cantley Common before moving to its present location in 1776. In those early days, the race covered four full miles, an incredible test of endurance for both horses and riders.

In 1825, the distance was shortened to two miles and five furlongs. It was reduced yet again to two miles and a quarter in 1891 and later cut to two miles and a single furlong in 1908. Finally, in 1927, the current distance of two miles and two furlongs was established.

From 1971, the Doncaster Cup was accorded Group 3 status. Its promotion to the Group 2 level came in 2003. In the meantime, sponsorships were inaugurated, including Great North Eastern Railway from 1997 to 2000 and GNER from 2001 to 2007. National Express held the title role in 2008, and the current sponsor, DFS (Direct Furnishing Supplies), came on board in 2009.

Today, the £100,000 Doncaster Cup is considered one of Britain’s leading events for stayers—horses that specialise in long distances. In fact, it has been designated as the final leg of the Stayers’ Triple crown, following the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June and the Goodwood Cup in late July or early August.

The Doncaster Cup is contested on the left-handed turf of the Doncaster Racecourse among Thoroughbreds aged three years and upwards. The younger entrants carry eight stone one pound, while those aged four years an older bear an additional stone in weight. An allowance of three pounds is made for fillies and mares. Penalties of five pounds or three pounds are allotted, respectively for previous winners of Group 1 or Group races since 28th February of the current season.

Given its long and illustrious history, it should come as no surprise that many great horses have had multiple wins here over the years. But none can claim more Doncaster Cup victories than a bay mare named Beeswing, the four-time champion of 1837, 1840, 1841 and 1842. She also won the Newcastle cup six times and the Craven Stakes thrice en route to a career record of 51 wins, eight seconds and a third in 63 outings. Many have hailed her as the greatest mare in Britain and perhaps even the greatest of all time.

More recently, an Irish-bred chestnut stallion named Double Trigger left his mark on the course with three victories in a four-year span. He was favoured in every edition from 1995 to 1998 and only faltered in 1997, when he finished fourth. A post-race examination by a veterinary officer revealed that the horse had an abnormally low heart rate, else he might have made it four in a row.

Jockey Joe Mercer posted more wins than any other rider in the history of the Doncaster Cup. He got his first win on Nick La Rocca in 1953 and then had to wait eleven years for his second in a dead-heat aboard Grey of Falloden in 1964. Thereafter, success came easier with wins atop The Accuser in 1968, Biskrah in 1972, Sea Anchor in 1976 and Buckskin in 1978. He finished up with back-to-back victories on Le Moss in 1979-80 for a total of eight wins in all.

Two trainers named Cecil posted seven wins each in the Doncaster Cup. Cecil Boyd-Rochfort got his first with Alcazar in 1934, Black Devil in 1935, followed by Osborne in 1954, Atlas in 1956, Agreement in both 1958 and 1959, and lastly Raise You Ten in 1963. Then came Henry Cecil’s turn with Buckskin, the Le Moss double, Ardross in 1982, Kneller in 1988, Great Marquess in 1991 and Canon Can in 1997.

Since the turn of the new millennium, Millenary has been the only double winner. The bay stallion finished in a dead heat with Kasthari in 2004 before winning the next year on his own as an eight-year-old.

Handicapping by age here is not recommended. Persian Punch took the 2003 installment at the ripe age of ten, while Alleluia won in 2001 as a three-year-old. Four-year-olds prevailed in 2007-09, but the 2010 winner, Samuel, was age six and the 2002 and 2006 victors were age seven. Paying 15/8 in 2008, Honolulu was the third favourite in a row to win, following the 11/10 payout of Septimus in 2007 and Sergeant Cecil’s win at evens in 2006.

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