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Wednesday, August 11, 2004



BETFAIR TO SPONSOR OLDEST CLASSIC




Doncaster Racecourse is delighted to announce Betfair, the world's largest betting exchange, as the new sponsor of this year's St Leger Festival featuring the 228th running of the St Leger Stakes on Saturday, September 11.


This year's renewal of the world's oldest classic, to be known as the betfair.com St Leger and worth £400,000, looks set to be one of the best of recent years. Likely starters include the Vodafone Derby second, third and fourth, Rule Of Law, Let The Lion Roar and Percussionist, Goodwood winner Maraahel, who bids to give Sir Michael Stoute a long-awaited first success in the event, and the Aidan O'Brien-trained Tycoon.


The betfair.com St Leger is the longest-established classic race run anywhere in the world. The first St Leger was run in 1776 and is named in honour of Anthony St Leger, a local sportsman who lived at Park Hill near Doncaster. The first renewal went to an unnamed filly, later to be named Allabaculia. Over the years, the roll of honour for the St Leger can boast some of the most famous names to have ever graced the English turf including Persimmon, Sceptre, Pretty Polly, Gainsborough, Hyperion, Tulyar, Nijinsky and Reference Point.


In recent years the one and three quarter mile contest has proved as popular as ever, with the Maktoum family's Godolphin operation successful three times with Classic Cliche (1995), Nedawi (1998) and Mutafaweq (1999). Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle stable has sent out the winner for two of the past three years with Milan (2001) and Brian Boru (2003). Sandwiched in between these two victories was an enormously popular win for Bollin Eric (2002), trained in Yorkshire by Tim Easterby.


As part of the sponsorship, Betfair will also back the Group 2 betfair.com May Hill Stakes run on Thursday, September 9, and one of the leading races of the year for juvenile fillies. Locally-trained fillies Kinnaird and Summitville have taken the last two renewals while the contest's distinguished roll of honour includes Reams Of Verse, successful in 1996 en route to classic victory in the following year's Oaks at Epsom.


John Sanderson, Doncaster's Chief Executive, commented: "We are delighted to welcome the world's largest betting exchange as sponsor of the 2004 betfair.com St Leger and betfair.com May Hill Stakes. The company has revolutionised modern-day betting and we are thrilled they have recognised the importance of the world's oldest classic by choosing it for their highest-profile racing sponsorship to date."

Josh Apiafi, Director of Field Marketing at Betfair, said: "This is a significant step for Betfair in terms of our horseracing sponsorship programme and to be associated with the St Leger is a great thrill for us. We are looking forward to what will be an excellent and competitive four days' racing culminating in the betfair.com St Leger on Saturday."


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