Don Your Way column: Doncaster’s famed St Leger just isn’t my cup of tea 

Darren Burke says the St Leger isn't what it once was.
Darren Burke says the St Leger isn't what it once was.

It is the undoubted highlight of Doncaster’s social calendar and after all the usual build up and hype, the St Leger cavalcade has exited the town for another year.

Over the last few days, my Facebook page has been awash with female friends in their lovely frocks and male pals in their snazzy suits, talking of winners, booze sodden antics and all manner of revelry.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like a night out as much as the next man. I also like a day at the races from time to time.

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And I also know how hugely important to Doncaster’s economy the world’s oldest classic horse race is and how it is probably one of the things our town is world famous for.

I’ve been along to the St Leger itself, the Saturday big day out, on just one occasion. It was many years ago and I was covering it for work.

I recall spending the day squeezing through the crowds, having beer splashed over my crisp suit and trying to get sense out of sozzled racegoers for quotes for my story.

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Parts of the course were uncomfortably unpleasant and getting from one end of the arena to the other took an age.

Like I say, I do love a day at Doncaster Racecourse, but I’d much prefer to go when its quieter and you can actually enjoy the spectacle around you.

Sadly, somewhere along the way, our town seems to have lost its status as a top drawer racing event. Why isn’t the Leger still spoken about in the same tones as the Grand National, Cheltenham, Ascot, The Derby?

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Yes, undoubtedly its a big pull locally but it seems the days of drawing in Royalty and huge names (although Lord Lloyd-Webber was there on Saturday) are firmly locked into the event’s glory days in the past.

As for me, I decided to ride a winner of my own on Saturday.

I dusted down my bike, pulled on my cycling gear and headed out to the open road and open air of the glorious countryside around Doncaster for a 25-mile bike ride. No flashy suit, just some unflattering lycra and a lot of leg power.

While the hooves were thundering down Town Moor, I was left to enjoy the solitude and space – and it was wonderful.

I’m sure there will be plenty out there thinking I’m knocking the town’s biggest annual sporting spectacular. I’m not.

I know for many it is the highlight of the year and they love nothing more than to pull on their finery and to celebrate things like Ladies Day and the main race itself.

But its just not my cup of tea these days I’m afraid. That said, football and Doncaster Rovers – now you’re talking…