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Doncaster struck the right note when racing returned for the first time after the death of the Queen

Sunday was the biggest day of the year in Doncaster for the 246th running of the oldest classic race in British racing, but Eldar Eldarov adding his name to a historic roll of honor inevitably seemed secondary.

The race was first run when George III was on the throne in 1776 and the background to the American Revolutionary War is important, but St Leger Day in 2022 was all about racing with a podium to honor and honor his biggest fan. to remind.

Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, British racecourses had been quiet for 48 hours without a hoof falling to the ground. It returned on Sunday and the priority was to strike the right note.

Eldar Eldarov raced to victory in the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster Racecourse on Sunday

Eldar Eldarov raced to victory in the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster Racecourse on Sunday

Jockeys observed a two minute silence prior to racing following the Queen's death

Jockeys observed a two minute silence prior to racing following the Queen's death

Jockeys observed a two minute silence prior to racing following the Queen’s death

Other sports had resumed earlier and football strangely decided that the ground must remain empty for a while. But the feeling around Doncaster’s Town Moor was that the sport most dear to the late monarch’s heart was right.

The front page of the race card featured a monotonous image of the Queen cheering a winner home. Inside were multiple pages about her connection to the sport.

Before the racing started, big screens around the track showed a short film that captured some of her greatest days in the sport of kings, which most of us only know as the sport of queens.

It was followed by an impeccably observed two-minute silence as jockeys including Frankie Dettori, Hollie Doyle, Jim Crowley and William Buick, trainers led by Charlie Appleby, Andrew Balding and Alan King plus Doncaster staff and officials from across the sport, including BHA chief executive Julie Harrington gathered in the paddock.

Jockey Davin Egan raises the trophy after winning the St Leger Stakes aboard Eldar Eldarov

Jockey Davin Egan raises the trophy after winning the St Leger Stakes aboard Eldar Eldarov

Jockey Davin Egan raises the trophy after winning the St Leger Stakes aboard Eldar Eldarov

Horses were led around the parade as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was shown on screen

Horses were led around the parade as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was shown on screen

Horses were led around the parade as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was shown on screen

It was then time for God Save The King’s first chant at a British racecourse in over 70 years.

There were condolence books around the track, including one in the weighing room, black bracelets for jockeys, and an area set aside for floral tributes.

Just as the Oval had banned fancy dress from the Test Match on Saturday, there was no frivolity. The jockey simulator that allows spectators to try their arms as a rider who normally screeches and screams had been dismantled. The right decision.

Frankie Dettori, who rode more than 50 winners in the Queen’s colors, admitted the mood among his fellow jockeys was subdued.

He said, “Of course it’s a little quiet in the weighing room, but that’s natural. You can feel a sense of emptiness. We’re going to race, but nobody’s going to jump up and down.’

So there was no flying off as Dettori won the opening Champagne Stakes at Chaldean. The impressive winner is rightfully under the care of royal trainer Andrew Balding, who said: “It’s been a rough week but maybe that will improve the mood at home a bit, but she’s left a big hole to fill.”

Egan (yellow) and Eldar Eldarov pose with trainer Roger Varian and owners of the St Leger Stakes winner

Egan (yellow) and Eldar Eldarov pose with trainer Roger Varian and owners of the St Leger Stakes winner

Egan (yellow) and Eldar Eldarov pose with trainer Roger Varian and owners of the St Leger Stakes winner

Balding also won the Doncaster Cup with Coltrane, while another royal trainer Richard Hannon landed the Flying Childers Stakes with Trillium.

The estimated crowd of 12,000 was perhaps about half of what would have been expected had the race been held on Saturday and represented a significant financial blow to the Arena Racecourse company that runs Doncaster on top of losing Friday’s card, but they went all out. good things.

A film was shown prior to the St Leger by Dunfermline’s, winner of the Queen’s 1977 St Leger, Dunfermline’s, and although Queen Elizabeth II was mainly associated with Derby Day and Royal Ascot, there was a fitting and poignant connection to Doncaster and the St Leger.

She was absent when the Willie Carson-ridden, Dick Hern-trained Dunfermline won in the Silver Jubilee year as duty called and the Queen was at Balmoral, which was hosted by the then Labor Prime Minister James Callaghan.

But she’d been to the St Leger festival in 1953, three months of her coronation when Winston Churchill was also in attendance.

Crowds at Doncaster Racecourse were shown a short film by the Queen before the race started

Crowds at Doncaster Racecourse were shown a short film by the Queen before the race started

Crowds at Doncaster Racecourse were shown a short film by the Queen before the race started

Our longest-serving monarch’s first connection to the St Leger was also to shape her love of the sport.

Her sire, King George VI, owned one of the greatest fillies ever to race in Sun Chariot, who landed the Triple Crown of the fillies – the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger – in 1942

The teenage Princess Elizabeth was taken to Sun Chariot at trainer Fred Darling’s stable in Beckhampton in Wiltshire. It was a cherished experience, the first time she saw a thoroughbred gallop, and it inspired her lifelong love of racing.

Recalling the moment she said, “I’d never felt the satin smoothness of a thoroughbred. It’s a wonderful feeling.’

Trillium (light blue) passes The Platinum Queen and claims victory in the Childers Stakes

Trillium (light blue) passes The Platinum Queen and claims victory in the Childers Stakes

Trillium (light blue) passes The Platinum Queen and claims victory in the Childers Stakes

Sun Chariot’s wartime St Leger was staged at Newmarket, while Doncaster was used as a depot for the Royal Army Veterinary Corp and a prisoner of war camp.

But in this corner of South Yorkshire, they marked another moment in history. It was sober and gloomy, but it felt good.

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