Need to know the characteristics of a racecourse? Or about complimentary badges for racehorse owners, which are provided free of charge at the discretion of each individual racecourse in differing quantities, depending whether the horse is owned by individual racehorse owners, those with shares in a racehorse or members of racing syndicates, partnerships or clubs?
From Aintree to York, full details including addresses, are all here. And we’ve also added details of good places to stay and eat – celebrate or drown your sorrows – close, or en route, to every racecourse. These aren’t necessarily swish establishments but those we know, or other racehorse owners have recommended, as providing really good stopping off points in convenient places to eat or overnight. If we’ve missed some please let us know!
Ormskirk Road, Aintree, Liverpool L9 5AS
Tel: 0151 523 2600 Web: www.aintree.co.uk
Home of the Grand National, Aintree has two left-handed courses. The National course itself is two and a quarter miles round and its sixteen fir fences include household names such as Becher’s Brook, Valentine’s and the Chair. The more orthodox Mildmay course is twelve furlongs round and very fast. Facilities have been greatly improved in recent years, and the revival of the November meeting, featuring the Becher Chase, has proved a great success.
Major races: Grand National, Aintree Hurdle, John Hughes Chase, Martell Cup, Fox Hunters’ Chase, Becher Chase.
Celebrations: The Eagle and Child at Bispham Green (off B5246) is handy for those travelling north up the M6. Popular for its food and beers this comfortable pub is unspoilt with homely furnishings and a large wildlife garden (Tel: 01257 462297). For those leaving the racecourse for the south The Dysart Arms at Burnbury offers civilized dining just off the A51 northwest of Nantwich (Tel 01829 260183.)
Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7JK
Tel: 01344 878529 Web: www.ascot.co.uk
Flat and National Hunt
A right-handed course of about fourteen furlongs with a steady uphill rise from Swinley Bottom, Ascot is one of the finest courses in the country under both codes. The standard of racing here is invariably high, with the Royal Meeting in June dominating the calendar and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in July and the Festival of British Racing in September, featuring the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, providing top class sport. The jumping course is inside the Flat track and was the scene of Arkle’s last victory in the SGB Chase in December 1966. Ascot is also the venue for regular bloodstock sales which are at the bargain basement end of the market – but nonetheless mant aspiring racehorse owners have picked up real bargains here.
Major races: Flat- King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, Gold Cup, St James’s Palace Stakes, Coronation Stakes, Royal Hunt Cup, Wokingham Stakes, King’s Stand Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Fillies’ Mile, Royal Lodge Stakes, Victoria Cup.
Jumps – Victor Chandler Chase, Long Walk Hurdle, Betterware Cup
Celebrations: The Inn at West End. Just a couple of miles from junction 3 of the M3 is a modern dining pub for racehorse owners who really enjoy their food and drink (Tel 01276 858652).
The Olde Red Lion at Oakley Green, a very popular pub at weekends, is 4 miles from junction 8 of the M4. Rooms are also available to overnight here (01753) 863892.
Whitletts Road, Ayr KA8 0JE
Telephone: 01292 264179. Fax: 01292 610140
Flat and National Hunt
West Scotland’s premier racecourse which hosts flat and jump racing on a long left oval which is a level and good galloping track. Going can be fast over jumps but usually quite testing on the flat when there’s usually a good cut compared to courses south of the border.
Major races: The Scottish National and The Ayr Gold Cup (flat)
Celebrations: A fair hike away but worth the trip for somewhere unique to stay is Corsewall Lighthouse set at the tip of a rocky headland north of Stranraer. It’s comfortable, serves great food and is in a spectacular and isolated setting (Tel:01776 853220). Otherwise this is a bit of a desert – so we’d be pleased to hear of any recommendations from racehorse owners!
The Racecourse, Bangor on Dee, Wrexham LL13 ODA
Tel: 01978 780323 Web: www.bangorondeeraces.co.uk
Approximately one and a half miles round, left-handed, triangular and mostly flat, Bangor-on-Dee is suited to the nimble sort of horse rather than the relentless galloper. It is famous for being near Wrexham and not at the Bangor in North Wales, though some horsebox drivers still forget this!
Celebrations: The Burton Inn at Burton is well situated for those with racehorse shares trekking back towards England and the M54. This is a lovely old pub serving a good range of exciting food. Bed and breakfast is also available (01939) 270284.
The Druid at Llanferis on the A494 Mold – Ruthin road is a 17th century inn offering great views as well as great hospitality. The restaurant offers a good selection of dishes and bed and breakfast is also available (01352) 810225.
Bath Racecourse, Lansdown, Bath, BA1 9BU
Tel: 01225 424609 Web: www.bath-racecourse.co.uk
A left-handed track of just over one and a half miles with a gradual uphill finish suiting the galloping type of horse and it provides a very fair test. There is a slight left-hand turn in the straight about a furlong from the winning post, which can cause bunching in a tight finish. There is no watering facility here so the ground can become hard during the summer when Bath attracts huge crowds for its evening meetings.
Celebrations: Race goers to Bath are not short of options. The Pear Tree at Whitley, off the B83353, is an extremely civilized place to eat and stay (01225) 709131.
For those heading southwest The Carpenters Arms at Stainton Wick is set in beautiful countryside and offers a great range of dining options and is also a recommended place to stay overnight (01761) 490202.
The Racecourse, York Road, Beverley, Esat Yorkshire HU17 8QZ
Tel: 01482 867488 Web: www.beverley-racecourse.co.uk
Flat Beverley is a right-handed track with gentle undulations, about thirteen furlongs round. The straight five-furlong course rises from start to finish and and provides a demanding test, especially in soft going. The draw is important here.
Celebrations: The Pipe and Glass at South Dalton serve’s excellent food and drink at a tucked away dining pub in a pretty beamed and bow windowed pub (Tel: 01430 810246). The nearby Wellington at Lund (off B1248) also serves award winning food and drink in an atmospheric pub where tables cannot be reserved (Tel: 01377 217294). Both are good options for racehorse owners with runners at Beverley
Brighton Racecourse, Freshfield Road, Brighton, Sussex BN2 9XZ
Tel: 01273 603580 Web: www.brighton-racecourse.co.uk
Brighton’s track is similar to Epsom – left-handed, twelve furlongs in length and suited to horses well able to cope with bends and undulations – and so used to be a favoured place for trying out Derby hopes: Cacoethes, third to Nashwan at Epsom in 1989, started his three-year-old career here. The straight falls steeply downhill, before raising a furlong out. A track that produces some unusual racing results.
Celebrations: Brighton offers a huge selection of restaurants in the city but for owners wanting to get away from the track The Bull at Ditchling is a popular place to stop in a pretty village (Tel: 01273 843147). Bed & breakfast also on offer here.
Further up the A23/M The Half Moon at Warninglid is an unpretencious country pub in a quiet village which serves really excellent food. Tables cannot be booked
(Tel: 01444 461227)
Blackwell, Carlisle, Cumbria CA2 4TS
Tel: 01228 554700 Web: www.carlisle-races.co.uk
Flat and National Hunt
The right-handed circuit of twelve and a half furlongs at Carlisle is very testing and undulates throughout, culminating in a stiff climb towards the finish. The ideal Carlisle horse has a lengthy stride and plenty of stamina. With a strong local following, Carlisle is a highly enjoyable course to visit.
Celebrations: The Highland Drive at Great Salkeld is handily placed for owners to the east of the M6 south of Carlisle and is a great stopping off point for its comfortable furnishings and relaxed atmosphere as well as its award winning food. Great views too (Tel: 01768 898349). Bedrooms are also available.
The Gate Inn at Yanwath is further down the M6 and 2 miles from junction 40. A bustling dining pub serving excellent food and a good selection of wines – fresh fish features strongly (Tel: 01768 862386)
Cartmel, Grange over Sands, Cumbria LA11 6QF
Tel: 01539 536340 Web: www.cartmel-racecourse.co.uk
Cartmel, in the Lake District, is an immensely popular course because of the charm of its location set in Cumbrian parkland. It is a left-handed circuit of little over a mile, with a run-in from the last fence of half a mile – the longest in the country. There are only a few meetings here each year but these are mostly scheduled for Bank Holidays and because of its location Cartmel draws big crowds
Celebrations: For those owners heading back to the M6 The Wheatsheaf at Beetham is a handy stop – a 17th century coaching inn offering good food and a place for an overnight stay (Tel: 015395 62123). The Pheasant at Casterton is a good alternative where bed and breakfast is also available (Tel: 015242 71230).
Catterick Bridge, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 7PE
Tel: 01748 811478 Web: www.caterickbridge.co.uk
Flat and National Hunt
Just under eleven furlongs round, the left-handed Catterick Bridge (near Richmond in Yorkshire) is a fast and sharp track on which front-runners excel.
Celebrations: Wyvill Arms at Constable Burton on the A684 east of Leyburn – a very popular dining pub with outdoor dining in fine summer weather (Tel: 01677 450581). For racehorse owners heading south back down the A1 The Nags Head at Pickhill is another favourite watering hole renowned for its cooking and excellent breakfasts if you’re overnighting (Tel: 01845 567391).
The Blue Lion, East Witton is handy for several of Yorkshire’s racecourses including Catterick, Ripon and Thirsk – and is particularly well situated to watch horses working at Middleham which is just a couple of miles away. The Blue Lion is an upmarket dining pub offering excellent accommodation in the main building and in a courtyard mews behind the pub. Tel: 01969 624723
This is the all-weather course resurrected by bookie Fred Done…see Great Leighs below for details
Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 4SH
Tel: 01242 513014 Web: www.cheltenham.co.uk
Cheltenham is Britain’s premier National Hunt track, located in spectacular Cotswold surroundings and famed for its National Hunt Festival, now the jewel in the crown of Channel Four’s jumps coverage. There are three left-handed courses at Prestbury Park: the Old Course, the New Course (similar to the Old but using separate ground for most of the circuit, and mainly distinguishable from the Old by having two fences from the home turn rather than one) and the Park Course, which does not require the runners to go to the top of the very demanding hill at the far end of the track. Cheltenham places a great premium on stamina as well as jumping ability, and the steep uphill climb to the winning post after the final obstacle has changed the complexion of many a race.
Major races: Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Triumph Hurdle, Sun Alliance Chase, Mackeson Gold Cup, Tripleprint Gold Cup, Bula Hurdle
Celebrations: The problem with celebrations is that at Festival time every pub and restaurant for 50 miles around is solidly booked for the week! So on the basis you’ll need to travel… The Queens Arms at Ashleworth, west of Cheltenham, is consistently good for locally produced food (Tel: 01452 700395). For those heading in the opposite direction Five Mile House at Duntisbourne Abbots is a great place to celebrate in an imposing stone building that’s full of character where a great selection of food is available (Tel: 01285 821432). Recommended by several owners with shares in Homebred Racing.
Chepstow, Monmouthshire NP16 6BE
Tel: 01291 622260 Web: www.chepstow-racecourse.co.uk
Flat and National Hunt
Wales’ only flat racetrack is also dual purpose. It’s a galloping and undulating course on the Welsh Border. Chepstow is home to the Welsh National and is also a test for flat racers with a stiff uphill climb to the finish. Underlying clay makes for very heavy going in the wet but very fast conditions when it’s dry.
Major races: Welsh National
Celebrations: If you’re heading back into Wales there are few places to match The Bear at Crickhowell – an ancient coaching inn that’s full of character and offers consistently good food and comfortable bedrooms (Tel: 01873 810408).
The Clytha Arms at Raglan is another civilized dining pub serving great food and also offering accommodation. It’s known for its good range of drinks including local ciders and perry (Tel: 01873 840206). Wales is fast becoming the place to train racehorses so you’ll be well looked after at these 2 favourites!
The Racecourse, Chester CH1 2LY
Tel 01244 304600 Web: www.chester.races.co.uk
Situated between the banks of the River Dee and the old Roman walls of the city, Chester is the tightest Flat track in the country with a circuit of scarcely more than one mile and a run in from the final bend of just over a furlong. Consequently it favours the handy, nimble sort of horse who can break quickly and has no difficulty holding a good position. The draw is a crucial factor here, especially in shorter races; where runners with an inside berth (low numbers) have a distinct advantage. Chester racecourse – popularly known as the Roodee – can claim to stage the oldest race meeting – still run at its original location, and the silver bell first run for at the request of the mayor in 1540 was the earliest recorded regular prize in racing history.
Major races: Chester Vase, Chester Cup, Ormonde Stakes. Cheshire Oaks, Dee Stakes
Celebrations: Top of the list is The Grosvenor Arms at Aldford. A good place for racing enthusiasts to stop and enjoy some of the best pub food on offer in Cheshire. A nice selection of wines too (Tel: 01244 620228). Glasfryn at Mold is west of Chester over the border into Wales but this bistro style pub serves a great selection of food all day (Tel: 01352 750500). It’s an ideal place to celebrate with a glass of bubbly on the terrace whilst also enjoying great views over the Welsh mountains.
Grand Stand, Leger Way, Doncaster DN2 6BB
Tel: 01302 304200 Web: www.doncaster-racecourse.co.uk
Flat and National Hunt
Horses were being raced at Doncaster – home of the St Leger – in the late sixteenth century, though today’s course on Town Moor was not established until 1778. The new grandstand was redeveloped in 2007. Doncaster is a left-handed circuit of nearly two miles round. Its wide track and easy turn into the four-and-a-half-furlong straight make it a very fair course and the only significant undulation is the slight rise and fall towards the end of the back straight. The ideal Doncaster horse is the long-striding type with the stamina and character to last home up the straight. Doncaster is also the venue for bloodstock sales – principally of jumping prospects but increasingly for good value yearlings for racehorse owners looking for a 2-year-old on a restricted budget,
Major races: Flat- St Leger, Lincoln Handicap, November Handicap, Racing Post Trophy, Doncaster Cup, Champagne Stakes, Portland Handicap; Jumps – Great Yorkshire Chase
Celebrations: It’s frankly a bit of a desert in these parts but if you’re heading north on the A1 the Chequers at Ledsham (1.5 miles from junction 42) is worth a try and serves good food. Travelling south down the A1 a diversion to Caunton Beck at Caunton (off A616) is worthwhile for the food and a good selection of wines.
(Tel: 01636 636793).
Epsom Downs, Surrey KT18 5LQ
Tel: 01372 726311 Web: www.epsomdowns.co.uk
Epsom is renowned worldwide as the home of The Derby and The Oaks, its hills and undulations make it the unique test of horse and jockey. Set high on the North Downs the horseshoe shaped course of 12 furlongs rises 150 feet over the first half mile before dropping steeply to Tattenham Corner after which there is a gradual rise to the winning post. Being on chalk the going can tend to extremes becoming very fast in hot weather but surprisingly testing with the onset of heavy rain.
Major races: The Derby, The Oaks
Celebrations: The King William IV at Mickleham is up a steep track off the A24. An eccentric pub known for its idyllic surroundings and good food (Tel: 01372 372590). The Plough at Cobham is further round the M25 and just a few miles from junction 10. A friendly pub offering a good choice of French country cooking (Tel: 01932 589790) away from the hustle and bustle of the racecourse and the motorway.
Exeter Racecourse, Kennford, Exeter, Devon EX6 7XS
Tel: 01392 832599
Exeter (renamed from Devon and Exeter in 1992) is a right-handed course, two miles round and fairly stiff, providing a good test of stamina. After the downhill stretch in the back straight (where the horses disappear from view), the track rises steadily up the straight to the finish.
Major race: The Haldon Cup
Celebrations: If you’re an owner travelling from afar The Culm Valley at Culmstock offers bed and breakfast but is principally worth a stop off the M5 for the food and its selection of wines. Sophisticated this isn’t – but still enjoyable (Tel: 01884 840354). West of Exeter the Nobody Inn at Doddiscombleigh is a reliable place for good food and an extraordinary range of drinks (Tel: 01647 252394). They also offer b & b here which is handy for owners.
The Racecourse, Fakenham, Norfolk NR21 7NY
Tel: 01328 862388 Web: www.fakenhamracecourse.co.uk
Fakenham is a tight little track – almost square – of about a mile in circumference with a run in of 250 yards. This is not a stiff track but a course that suits nippy, front running types that can get away around the turning circuit. Trainers to follow on this jumping only track are Brennan, Jenkins, and Bailey. The racecourse is off the A148 in North Norfolk.
Celebrations: Walpole Arms at Herringham, off the B1354, a popular dining pub serving adventurous food (Tel: 01263 587258). The Saracens Head at Erpingham is a good place to stay in the middle of nowhere and is also a great place to eat well too
(Tel: 01263 768909) and relive the day’s events at the track.
Flat and jumps
This new track is the brainchild of Dai Walters who made his fortune through civil engineering contracts including widening of the M4 through South Wales. Spoil from the work was used to infill the quarry overlooking Swansea Bay where the track is located, south of Carmarthen. A fair, galloping track with sweeping bends and a steady climb to the finish where the ground gets very testing in wet weather.
Celebrations – Y Polyn – East of Carmarthen and close to the National Botanic Garden offers consistently good food
Folkestone (now closed)
Westhanger, Hythe Kent
Tel: 01303 266407
Flat and National Hunt
The only racecourse in Kent, Folkestone is a right-handed circuit of just over ten furlongs round, with sharp bends and marked undulations, better suited to the nippy type of horse than the long-striding galloper on the flat but can prove quite testing over jumps.
Celebrations: Handy for the cross channel tunnel (Le Channel in Calais is an excellent place to eat – the best in town). But closer to home The Windmill at Hollingbourne is close to junction 8 of the M20 on your way home. A very smart village with a dining pub to match (Tel: 01622 880280). If you’re heading back west along the coast it’s worth making the pilgrimage to The Mermaid at Rye – a wonderful old inn (Tel: 01797 223065) – not exactly handy for racehorse owners but a place you’ll appreciate!
Fontwell, Arundel, West Sussex BN18 OSX
Tel: 01243 543335 Web: www.fontwellpark.co.uk
A compact figure-of-eight, the chasing course at Fontwell (near Arundel in West Sussex) is one of the best viewing tracks in the country, while the hurdle course is a left-handed oval of about one mile, which runs outside the chase track. The ideal Fontwell horse is handy and adaptable.
Major races: Sussex National, Salmon Spray Hurdle
Celebrations: For owners heading back towards London The Star and Garter at East Dean is a brick and flint pub serving really good food and wines (Tel: 01243 811318).
The Whitehorse at Chilgrove (also handy for Goodwood) is a very civilized place to dine and stay and serves some seriously good food (Tel: 01243 535219).
Goodwood racecourse Ltd, Goodwood, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 OPS
Tel: 01243 755022 Web: www.goodwood.co.uk
Perhaps the most scenically situated racecourse in the country (some say the world), Goodwood is set high on the Sussex downlands with panoramic views across to the English Channel. Longer races here involve both left-hand and right-hand bends and the track is notable for marked undulations and sharp turns, with a sweeping downhill straight which puts a premium on balance. The standard of racing is high the year round, with the July Meeting one of the highlights of the racing vear.
Major races: Sussex Stakes, Goodwood Cup, Stewards’ Cup, Richmond Stakes, Nassau Stakes, Celebrarion Mile
Celebrations: The aptly named White Horse at Chilgrove (also handy for racegoers to Fontwell Park) is an upmarket place to stay and eat seriously good food
(Tel: 01234 535219). The equally appropriately named Horse and Groom at East Ashling is another popular venue but it can get very busy on racedays (Tel: 01243 575339) when owners fill the bar.
Moulsham Hall Lane, Great Leighs, Chelmsford, Essex CM3 1QP
Tel: 01245 362412 Web: www.greatleighs.com
A flat only, all weather track, which is an oval of approximately 1 mile. Given the size of the track on it’s site the race track unusually runs around the outside of the facilities and grandstand which is situated on the inside of the track (which inevitably means runners disappear from view during the race). In fact the finish is not visible from the owners and trainers area and so is best viewed on TV. Jockeys report it to be the best of the UK’s all weather tracks which is sure to get faster as it beds in.
Celebrations: If you’re travelling via the M11 The Cricketers at Clavering is a 16th century dining pub serving great food and is also a very comfortable place to stay (Tel: 01799 550442). Not to be confused with the Cricketers Arms at nearby Rickling Green which is also a haven for foodies close to the M11 in a 16th century building with a modern makeover. Rooms available here too (Tel: 01799 543210) which is handy for racehorse owners needing to overnight.
The Racecourse, Jellicoe Road, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR30 4AU
Tel: 01493 842527 Web: www.greatyarmouth-racecourse.co.uk
Yarmouth is left-handed, nearly flat, oval in shape and very much suited to long-striding horses. The straight course caters for races up to a mile and often attracts well-bred two-year-olds from the top Newmarket trainers, who view Yarmouth as the ideal introduction for a young horse.
Celebrations: So far from anywhere, race goers to Yarmouth must need to break their journey somewhere! The Angel at Larling is a friendly pub off the A11 on the long trek home. You can also stay here (Tel: 01953 717963). But if you want to stay on the coast, the Fisherman’s Return at Winterton-on-Sea is a little pub close to the beach with rooms to stay (Tel: 01493 393305) – handy for owners wanting to overnight.
Bothwell Road, Hamilton, Lanarkshire ML5 ODW
Tel: 01698 283806 Web: www.hamilton-park.co.uk
Twelve miles south-west of Glasgow, Hamilton consists of a straight six furlongs with a pear-shaped loop attached, and runners over the longer distances race away from the stands round the left-hand loop before swinging right and straightening up for home with five furlongs to run. The course is extremely undulating with a stiff uphill finish.
Celebrations: If you’re deciding to continue northwards to explore more of Scotland The Cross Keys at Kippen is an 18th century village inn with simple rooms
(Tel: 01786 870293). Otherwise your best bet is to travel into Glasgow. The Babbity Bowster on Blackfriars Street serves good food – and you may get some traditional music too (Tel: 0141 552 5055) to complete your experience of a day at the races!
Newton Le Willows, Merseyside WA122 OHQ
Tel: 01942 725963 Web: www.haydock-park.co.uk
Fiat and National Hunt
Located between Liverpool and Manchester, Haydock Park is an extremely popular venue with northern race goers. The circuit is a left-handed oval about fifteen furlongs round, a good galloping track which, except for a slight rise throughout the straight, is fairly flat. The fences are among the most testing in the country and under both codes the standard of sport is high.
Major races: Flat – Sprint Cup, Lancashire Oaks; Jumps – Peter MarshChase, Greenalls Gold Cup, Swinton Hurdle
Celebrations: If you’re heading to Chester and beyond The Grosvenor Arms at Aldford is very popular and highly recommended for food (Tel: 01244 620228). If you’re headed for Manchester the Roebuck at Mobberley has earned a reputation for excellent food and is worth the short detour off the M56 (Tel: 01565 873322) to share a celebration with other owners.
Roman Road, Hereford HR4 9QU
Tel: 01432 273560 Web: www.hereford-racecourse.co.uk
A right-handed track, square in shape and just over a mile round, Hereford is a good galloping circuit with easy bends and a steady fall to the home straight. S this is a good track for front-runners who can be difficult to peg back from the last in the back straight.
Celebrations: The Three Crowns at Ullingswick for great food created using local ingredients and it’s also possible to stay here (Tel: 01432 820279). A little further north is The Three Horseshoes at Little Cowarne, which offers comfortable bedrooms as well as a good choice of meals and wines in a pretty setting (Tel: 01885 400276) for racehorse owners wanting somewhere to stay within an easy drive to or from the racecourse.
The Stagg at Titley, although some way north of Hereford is well worth a detour (but essential to book). A very comfortable accommodation is available at the pub itself – or at the family owned vicarage a few hundred yards away. The Stagg offers superb food and an interesting range of local brews including Herefordshire ciders and perrys. Tel: 01544 230221
The Riding, Hexham, Northumberland NE46 4PF
Tel: 01434 606881 Web: www.hexham-racecourse.co.uk
Set 800 feet above sea level in unspoiled Northumberland countryside Hexham is one of the most scenic tracks in the land. The left-handed circuit is twelve furlongs round, with a steep climb at the end of the back straight and up the home straight.
Celebrations: The Lord Crewe Arms at Blanchland, south of Hexham, was built in 1235 and offers a handy place to stay – but is miles from civilization (Tel: 01434 675251).
A little further east, The Manor House Inn at Carterway Heads is another good place to stay and offers excellent food (Tel: 01207 255268) before or after racing.
Brampton Racecourse, Huntingdon, Cambs PE28 4NL
Tel: 01480 453373 Web: www.huntingdon-racecourse.co.uk
Set in flat fenland, Huntingdon provides a fast, right-handed galloping track eleven furlongs round. Oval in shape and with easy bends, the course is suited to horses with plenty of speed. A favourite of ex PM John Major and also for Homebred Racing as we enjoyed our first winner here – at 100/1!
Major race: Peterborough Cup
Celebrations: The A1 North takes you to Stilton where The Bell offers comfortable accommodation and good food in an old coaching inn with a modern makeover
(Tel: 01733 241066). To the south a diversion off the M11 to The Chequers at Fowlmere is well worthwhile – a lovely old inn serving excellent food with a good choice of wines (Tel: 01763 208369) and a great atmosphere to share celebration of a win!
Kelso, Roxburghshire TD5 7SX
Tel: 01668 280800 Web: www.kelso.co.uk
In the heart of the Border Country, Kelso has an atmosphere all its own, with strong local support and plenty of good horses in action. The left-handed chase course goes further from the stands than the hurdle course, and features a demanding run-in from the last fence of a quarter of a mile. The hurdle course is tighter and suits the nippy sort of animal.
Celebrations: Frankly owners are in a bit of a desert here but The Border at Kirk Yetholm offers a bed for the night, a warm welcome and reasonable food
(Tel: 01573 420237). Your best bet is Burts Hotel in Melrose, west of Kelso, a 200 year old inn offering good food and accommodation (Tel: 01896 822285).
Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex TW16 5AQ
Tel: 01932 782292 Web: www.kempton.co.uk
Flat (turf and all-weather) and National Hunt
Near Sunbury-on-Thames and a few miles from the M25, Kempton, opened in 1878, has made very significant improvements to its facilities in recent years, and attracts an enthusiastic following particularly over the jumps: the year’s highlights are Boxing day, with the King George VI Chase, and the February pre-Cheltenham meeting, featuring the Racing Post Chase. The Kempton track is a right-handed triangle, with a straight six furlongs cutting across the middle and a spur for ten-furlong races. It is quite flat and sharp, putting the emphasis for jumpers on speed rather than stamina. There is also now an all weather polytrack for flat racing throughout the year. Kempton now also hosts a breeze-up sale if you’re in the market for an un-raced two-year-old!
Major races: Flat – Easter Stakes, Queen’s Prize, Roseberry Handicap, and September Stakes.
Jumps – King George VI Chase, Christmas Hurdle, Racing Post Chase.
Celebrations: The 3 Horseshoes at Laleham is 5 miles from junction 13 off the M25. This is an ancient tavern serving a good selection of wines and a good selection of food too (Tel: 01784 455014). The Castle at Ottershaw is a couple of miles from junction 11 and is a quiet retreat to digest a day’s racing (Tel: 01932 872373).
The Racecourse, Leicester LE2 4AL
Tel: 01162 716515
Flat and National Hunt
At just under fourteen furlongs round, Leicester is a right-handed oval shaped track that provides a strong test of stamina. There is a straight mile which runs sharply downhill almost to halfway, from where it climbs steadily to the winning post. The round course undulates throughout before joining the straight four and a half furlongs from home. It’s a true test of a racehorse. Going can become very testing here
If heading north up the M1, make a beeline for Beeston where the Victoria offers great food in a converted railway hotel (Tel: 0115 925 4049). If you’re meandering southwards The Staff of Life at Mowsley is worth a stop for good cooking and a wide choice of wines (Tel: 0116 240 2359) to celebrate your horse’s latest win!
Racecourse Road, Lingfield, Surrey RH7 6PQ
Tel: 01342 834800 Web: www.lingfield-racecourse.co.uk
Flat (turf and all-weather) and National Hunt
The turf course at Lingfield Park (near East Grinstead in Surrey) is regarded as a very useful preparation for the Derby and Oaks at Epsom: horses run to the top of the hill, about six furlongs from home, then face a sharp left-handed descent into the straight course under half a mile from home. The ten-furlong all-weather track is inside the turf for year round flat racing. As a jump track Lingfield statistically has the fewest fallers of any track in the country.
Major races (Flat): Derby Trial, Oaks Trial
Celebrations: The Hare and Hounds (just off the B2029) is a great place to stop after a day all-weather-racing. An informal place with good cooking and a selection of wines by the glass (Tel: 01342 83235). If travelling back around the M25 a detour to
La Barbe Restaurant in Reigate is rewarded with excellent French bistro cuisine
(Tel: 01737 241966) to end a perfect day at the races.
Bromfield, Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 2BT
Tel: 01584 856221 Web: www.ludlowracecourse.co.uk
Ludlow’s right-handed course is situated in superb Shropshire countryside and features an Edwardian grandstand, built in 1904. The circuit, about one and a half miles long, is mostly flat and makes its way through a golf course, the hurdle course running further away from the stands than the chase track. The course is criss-crossed by roads, which can be a concern for the frequent changes in going.
Celebrations: Ludlow is famed for its choice of restaurants but if you’re heading out of town The Roebuck Inn at Brimfield (to the south) is a comfortable place to eat, drink and stay (Tel: 01584 711230). To the west of Ludlow the Chive Restaurant at Bromfield is a Georgian house affording good catering and accommodation
(Tel: 01584 856565). Everyone, it seems, is a keen follower of horseracing in these parts so you’ll be well catered for!
The Stagg at Titley, although some way south of Ludlow is well worth a detour (but essential to book). A very comfortable accommodation is available at the pub itself – or at the family owned vicarage a few hundred yards away. The Stagg offers superb food and an interesting range of local brews including Herefordshire ciders and perrys. Tel: 01544 230221.
Legsby Road, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire LN8 3EA
Tel: 01673 843434 Web: www.marketrasenraces.co.uk
Sixteen miles northeast of Lincoln, Market Rasen is an exceptionally well-run and well-supported small jumping track. With minor undulations and fairly tight right-handed bends, the course is quite sharp, ten furlongs round and oval in shape, thus favouring the handy type of horse rather than thc long-striding galloper.
Celebrations: Options are thin on the ground around here but possibilities are the Inn on the Green at Ingham (Tel: 01522 730354) or The Hardwick Inn which is 3 miles from junction 29 of the M1 if that’s the way you’re going home (Tel: 01246 850245) after a successful day’s racing. Do any other racehorse owners know of better options – we’d like to hear of them.
Linkfield Road, Musselburgh, E. Lothian EH21 7RG
Tel: 0131 6652859
Right-handed rectangle of 11 furlongs provides opportunities for lower grade horses that often make the long trek from southern England.
Celebrations: Nearby Edinburgh offers many options but you might like to try the Melville Castle Hotel at Lasswade that offers race goers 4 star hospitality in a renovated castle built in 1786. Heading south, cross country, The Wheatsheaf at Swinton is a comfortable stop off for good food and accommodation (Tel: 01890 860257).
The Racecourse, Berkshire RG14 7NZ
Tel: 01635 40015 Web: www.newbury-racecourse.co.uk
One of the country’s top dual-purpose courses, a left-handed oval circuit of 1m 6 furlongs which is a fair galloping track which can be a severe test when the ground becomes heavy. The Berkshire course hosts top events on the flat and over jumps including the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes and the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Location: London 67, Bristol 66 and Southampton 38 miles
Trains: From Paddington direct to the racecourse
Major races: Lockinge Stakes, John Porter Stakes, and Hennessy Gold Cup
Celebrations: Racehorse owners are spoilt for choice in this part of the world but we like The Red House at Marsh Benham. A smart gastro-pub with really good French cooking in a very rural setting just off the A4. In the opposite direction the Royal Oak at Yattendon is also worth a detour for its consistently good food and comfortable rooms to stay (Tel: 01635 201325).
Flat and National Hunt
High Gosforth Park, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE3 5HP
Tel: 0191 236 2020 Web: www.newcastle-racecourse.co.uk
Although Newcastle’s most famous race is still the Northumberland Plate, a two-mile handicap first run in 1833, the course nowadays attracts most attention for its National Hunt racing, notably the Eider Chase, a traditional trial for the Grand National and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. The Whitbread Gold Cup was run here in 1973 while Sandown Park was being rebuilt. A very fair test of horse and rider, Newcastle has a left-handed triangular circuit of a mile and three-quarters with no sharp turns or severe contours.
Major races: Flat – Northumberland Plate, Beeswing Stakes; Jumps – Eider Chase, Fighting Fifth Hurdle
Celebrations: The out of town Keelman, just off the A1 at Newburn, offers accommodation at reasonable rates (Tel: 0191 267 0772) and is handy for owners with runners at Newcastle. Shiremoor Farm at New York, off the A191, is good for a meal if you want to avoid the city centre (Tel: 0191 257 6302).[/toggle]
Westfield House, The Links, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 OTG
Tel: 01638 663482 Web: www.newmarketracecourse.co.uk
‘Headquarters’ of racing, being the original home of the Jockey Club and the major training centre in the country. The Rowley Mile used in the spring and autumn and venue fpr the One Thousand and Two Thousand Guineas, as well as many other big races, is quite straight for races up to ten furlongs. Longer races have a dogleg right-hand turn into the straight eleven furlongs from home. The runner’s race downhill into the Dip about a furlong out, then uphill to the line. The July Course is similar in shape to the Rowley but has a straight of about one mile, with a fierce uphill finish, which makes for wonderfully exciting racing. The principal requirement for the ideal Newmarket horse on either course is the ability to see out every yard of the trip. Newmarket is also home to Tattersalls bloodstock sales, which is the source of some of the most expensive yearlings worldwide. The autumn sales are for yearlings with the bluest bloodlines destined for the racecourse as 2-year-olds. The December sale is one of the biggest in the world lasting 10 days and is principally for breeding stock mares and broodmares in foal. Taking a chance on a broodmare in foal can be an inexpensive way of getting to own a very well bred foal at below market cost.
Major races: Rowley Mile – One Thousand Guineas, Two Thousand Guineas, Champion Stakes, Dewhurst Stakes, Chevely Park Stakes, Middle Parh Stakes, Cesarewitch, Cambridgeshire, Nell Gwyn Stakes, Craven Stakes, Free Handicap, Jockey Club Cup, Sun Chariot Stakes, Challenge Stakes
July Course – July Cup, Princess of Wales’s Stakes, July Stakes, Criterion Stakes, Bunbury Cup
Celebrations: Some miles away to the southeast The Plough at Rede has a good reputation with racegoers as a place to enjoy good food (Tel: 01284 789208). Otherwise, if you’re travelling back via M11, the Three Horseshoes at Madingley is highly recommended for lovers of Italian cooking (Tel: 01954 210221)
The Racecourse, Kingsteignton, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 3AF
Tel: 01626 353235 Web: www.newtonabbotracing.com
Newton Abbot is a small, flat, oval course of just 1 mile 2 furlongs, with a very short run in, suiting nippy types who can slip their field. Going often turns soft very quickly even for their early summer and autumn jumping cards. It’s a particularly happy hunting ground for the Pipe yard who monopolize many of the novice events. Always allow plenty of time to get in as traffic queues can be exasperatingly long!
Celebrations: A long way from home for many racehorse owners… so The Dolphin is a tucked away 16th century inn providing reasonably priced accommodation
(Tel: 01548 810314). For food, the Church House at Marldon is consistently good
(Tel; 01803 558279).
Colwick Park, Colwick Road, Nottingham NG2 4BE
Tel: 0115 958 0620 Web: www.nottinghamracecourse.co.uk
Nottingham is a big flat, galloping track – an oval of 1 1/2 miles with easy turns and a long 5 furlong straight. It’s known as a level, fair course but going tends to extremes of fast or very soft. It attracts good fields and is well supported by Newmarket trainers for whom travelling is relatively easy.
Celebrations: One of the joys of racehorse ownership is the post race analysis or celebration. To the southwest of Nottingham racecourse the Victoria at Beeston
is an unassuming conversion of an old railway hotel noted for its food and drink
(Tel: 0115 925 4049). The Wagon and Horses at Hallam, to the northwest is a civilized dining pub serving great food (Tel: 01636 813109).
Scone Palace Park, Perth PH2 6BB
Tel: 017385 51597 or 07768 868 848 Web: www.perth-races.co.uk
Set in the beautiful Scone Park alongside the River Tay, Perth is the most northerly of Britain’s racecourses. The right-handed circuit is flat, ten furlongs round and oval in shape, suitable for the nippy rather than the galloping type.
Celebrations: If you’re making your visit to the racecourse as part of an extended tour it’s worth taking a detour out along the A90 to the Fisherman’s Tavern at Broughty Ferry – a pleasant waterfront pub that also serves a good range of food (Tel: 01382 775941). And if you want to stay reasonably nearby another waterside venue popular with racehorse owners is the Ship at Elie (Tel: 01333 330246).
Plumpton, East Sussex BN7 3AL
Tel: 01273 890383 Web: www.plumptonracecourse.co.uk
Plumpton (ten miles from Brighton) may not be the most scenic of the ‘gaffs’ – the small jumping tracks – but the sight of the field of two-mile novice chasers hurtling down the back straight is enough to make anyone grateful not to be a jump jockey, and the atmosphere here is local and friendly. A left-handed circuit of about nine furlongs, the track has tight bends and favours the quick-jumping, nippy sort of horse.
Celebrations: First stop The Jolly Sportsman – an excellent gastro pub secluded at the foot of The Downs at East Chiltington. It’s a firm favourite of racehorse owners (Tel: 01273 890400). The Bull at Ditchling is another good place to eat and where you can also stay (Tel: 01273 843147.
33 Ropergate, Pontefract, West Yorkshire WF8 1LE
Tel: 01977 781307 Race days: 01977 702210 Web: www.pontefract-races.co.uk
At about two miles round, Pontefract is the longest Flat circuit in Britain. The left-handed track undulates considerably throughout and culminates in a stiff uphill finish, which puts great demands on stamina, though the home straight is only two furlongs long.
Celebrations: Handy for race goers heading north is The Chequers at Ledsham an old fashioned stone-built village pub serving a good range of food (Tel: 01977 683135). For racehorse owners wanting to break a long journey the Three Acres at Shelley is a great place to eat and to stay (Tel: 01484 602606).
The Racecourse, Redcar, Cleveland TS10 2BY
Tel: 01977 781307 Race days 01977 702210
This left-handed track, much frequented by holidaymakers, is fourteen furlongs round and flat, providing a true test for long-striding horses. The straight mile joins the round course five furlongs from home.
Celebrations: There’s nowhere better than The County at Aycliffe off junction 59 of the A1/M. Their chef worked at Le Manoir – so expect the best whilst you relive the day’s excitement! Booking essential (Tel: 01325 312273). A place to stay further south of the A19 at Osmotherley is The Golden Lion – an old stone-built pub with recently refurbished bedrooms where you can also get a decent meal (Tel: 01609 883526.
77 North Street, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 1DS
Tel: 01765 602156 Web: www.ripon-races.co.uk
Ripon is a narrow, right-handed oval; thirteen furlongs round with a six-furlong straight course. It is nearly flat but there is a pronounced dip a furlong out.
Celebrations:The Sawley Arms, at Sawley west of Ripon, is a well kept place with a good selection of food for hungry racegoers (Tel: 01765 620642). The Black Bull at Boroughbridge is handy for racehorse owners travelling via the A1. An old town pub that’s comfortably furnished and where you can also get a tasty bite to eat. A good selection of wines too (Tel: 01423 322413).
The Blue Lion, East Witton is handy for several of Yorkshire’s racecourses including Catterick, Ripon and Thirsk – and is particularly well situated to watch horses working at Middleham which is just a couple of miles away. The Blue Lion is an up market-dining pub offering excellent accommodation in the main building and in a courtyard mews behind the pub. Tel: 01969 624723
Salisbury Racecourse, Netherhampton, Wiltshire SP2 8PN
Tel: 01722 326461 Web: www.salisburyracecourse.co.uk
Salisbury has always been a popular course on which to educate two-year-olds (Mill Reef had his first race here), as the turf is generally good. The straight course rises all the way from the mile start. All races over more than a mile involve the loop, which the runners negotiate as a left-hand turn away from the stands before swinging right-handed towards the tight home bend. Salisbury’s other recent claim to fame is that it was here in April 1979 that American jockey Steve Cauthen rode his first winner in Britain.
Celebrations: If you want to stay at the epitome of an English country pub The Horseshoe at Ebbisbourne Wake is the place. Tucked away in a beautiful downland valley village this isn’t high living – but a quiet and comfortable place to chill out with home cooking and home comforts (Tel: 01722 780474). In the opposite direction (to the north east of Salisbury) The Silver Plough at Pitton is a recommended dining pub for racehorse owners (Tel: 01722 712266).[/toggle]
The Racecourse, Esher, Surrey KT10 9AJ
Tel: 01372 463072 Web: www.sandown.co.uk
Flat and National Hunt
Opened in 1875, Sandown Park, near Esher in Surrey, was the first of the ‘park’ courses where all race goers had to pay to get in. Nowadays for many people it is the perfect racecourse, with excellent facilities, a circuit seemingly custom-built for dramatic races, and sport of the highest class both on the flat and over jumps – with the Eclipse Stakes and the Whitbread Gold Cup the highlights. The right-handed track is oval in shape and about one mile five furlongs round, and the very testing five-furlong sprint course cuts through the main course and has its own winning post, making the straight a gradual uphill climb. The chasing course is among the most exhilarating in the country, the three Railway fences in quick succession before the turn towards the Pond Fence (three from home) forming an especially tricky sequence.
Major races: Flat – Eclipse Stakes, Classic Trial, Gordon Richards Stakes, Brigadier Gerard Stakes, Temple Stakes, Solario Stakes.
Jumps – Whitbread Gold Cup, Anthony Mildmay, Peter Gazalet Memorial Chase, Agfa Diamond Chase, Grand Military Gold Cup, Imperial Cup.
Celebrations: Marneys in Alma Road, Weston Green, Esher is a nice quiet place away from the racecourse. A good venue for a quiet drink and a bite to eatafter an exciting day at the races (Tel: 020 8398 4444). Otherwise The Plough at Cobham, 3 miles from junction 10 off the M25, is a comfortable place offering French bistro cooking (Tel: 01932 589790).[/toggle]
The Racecourse, Sedgefield, Stockton on Tees TS21 2HW
Tel: 01740 621925 Web: www.sedgefield-racecourse.co.uk
About ten furlongs round, Sedgefield (eleven miles south-east of Durham) is a left-handed track, which undulates considerably, and the bends are tight. But long-distance races here provide a true test of stamina and the steep rise inside the final furlong often changes the outcome of a race.
Celebrations: If you own a racehorse with Peter Bowen you’d better brush up on local facilities as he frequently makes the trek here, as it’s one of his favourite tracks! Most will be travelling via the A1 (M) so the Masons Arms at Rennington offers an excellent bed and breakfast (Tel: 01665 577275). Further south The Cook and Barker Arms at Newton-on-the-Moor is a friendly place recommended for food as well as somewhere that’s also good to stay (Tel: 01665 575234).[
Rolleston, Southwell, Notts NG25 OTS
Tel: 0870 220 2332
Flat (turf and all weather) and National Hunt
Southwell (five miles west of Newark-on-Trent) is a left-handed oval circuit, with a run from the final bend of about three furlongs. The Flat courses of turf and Fibresand all weather include a straight five furlongs. Some people complain of lack of atmosphere, but the facilities for racehorse owner here aren’t too bad.
Celebrations: Although the track has more than its fair share of critics, the surrounding towns and villages are very pleasant. The Brownlow Arms is an upmarket inn at Hough-on-the-Hill which does good food and is also a comfortable place to stay (Tel: 01400 250234). The Welby Arms at Allington is also well recommended by owners – you can eat, drink and stay here close to the A1 (Tel: 01400 281361).
Stratford Upon Avon
The Racecourse, Luddington Road, Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire CV37 9SE
Tel: 01789 267949 Web: www.stratfordracecourse.co.uk
Sharp and left-handed, Stratford is a track where the ‘horses for courses’ theory is often proved true. The mile-and-a-quarter circuit is flat and fast, with two plain fences in the finishing straight often making for exciting finishes to chases
Major race: Horse and Hound Cup
Celebrations: Plenty of options around here – we like the Fox and Goose at Armscote
– a slightly eccentric jumble of buildings but a comfy bed and really good food
(Tel: 01608 682293). But if it’s just a bite to eat, somewhere close by is The Bell at Alderminster – well supported by racehorse owners (Tel: 01789 450414). You can stay here too.
Orchard Portman, Taunton, Somerset TA3 7BL
Tel: 01823 337172 Web: www.tauntonracecourse.co.uk
Set amid the rolling hills of Somerset, Taunton is a right-handed track, ten furlongs round and sharp but easy in nature with well-cambered bends.
Celebrations: North of the A358 The Blue Ball at Thiscombe is a smart place to celebrate a win and is highly recommended for excellent food (Tel: 01984 618242). Bedrooms available here too. But if you’re heading on south down the M5 The Culm Valley at Culmstock is off junction 27 and also gets good marks for food (Tel: 01884 840354).[/toggle]
The Racecourse, Station Road, Thirsk, North Yorkshire YO7 1QL
Tel: 01845 522276
Thirsk is a left-handed circuit about ten furlongs in circumference, with easy bends and minor undulations. Although on the sharp side, the track provides a fair test for horses and is blessed with good drainage and turf.
Celebrations: Try The Womberwell Arms, at Wass which is a pretty village. This is just a simple, homely place with rooms (Tel: 01347 868280). The Crab and Lobster at Asenby is also handy for the A1 and there have been good reports of food and the very luxurious bedrooms (Tel: 01854 577286).
The Blue Lion, East witton is handy for several of Yorkshire’s racecourses including Catterick, Ripon and Thirsk – and is particularly well situated to watch horses working at Middleham which is just a couple of miles away. The Blue Lion is an upmarket dining pub offering excellent accommodation in the main building and in a courtyard mews behind the pub. Tel: 01969 624723
Easton Neston, Towcester, Northants NN12 7HS
Tel: 01327 353414 Web: www.towcester-racecourse.co.uk
Towcester – eight miles south-west of Northampton – is a very testing right-handed track of fourteen furlongs. From the stands the course rises to the first bend and then descends steeply into the back straight, which is level. From the turn out of the back straight the ground rises steadily all the way to the finish, putting great demands on a horse’s stamina. Spectators here enjoy a wonderful view of the racing and free entry which accounts in large part for the track’s lasting popularity. Front-runners rarely last home here.
Celebrations: The Star at Sulgrave is a lovely old pub offering bed and breakfast
(Tel: 01295 760389). Otherwise our experience is that this is a bit of a desert – any other racehorse owners know better?[/toggle]
The Racecourse, Wood Lane, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire St14 8BD
Tel: 01889 562561
One of the most go-ahead courses in the country, Uttoxeter (in Staffordshire, not far from Stoke-on-Trent) has made huge strides in recent years in improving the quality both of its racing and of its facilities. A gently undulating circuit with easy bends (mostly left-handed, but with a right-handed kink in the back straight) and a flat run for home. Uttoxeter is popular with jump jockeys who consider it amongst the fairest of the small tracks.
Major races: Midlands National, Staffordshire Hurdle
Celebrations: If you’re heading north The Yew Tree at Cauldon is consistently good for its food – but you need to book (Tel: 01538 308348). Otherwise The Boat at Lichfield, which is handily placed for racegoers just a couple of miles off the M6 ( junction 16), also wins prizes for its food (Tel: 01543 361692).
Hampton Street, Warwick, Warwickshire CV34 6HN
Tel: 01926 491553 Web: www.warwickracecourse.co.uk
Flat and National Hunt
Races from five furlongs to a mile at Warwick are very sharp, largely on account of the left-handed bend into the two-and-a-half-furlong straight. The course sets a very fair test in longer flat and jumps races: the left-hand circuit is fourteen furlongs round and mostly flat.
Major races (Jumps): Warwick National, Regency Hurdle
Celebrations: Places handy for the M40 are The Malt Shovel (junction 12) at Gaydon for enjoyable food (Tel: 01926 641221) or The Duke of Cumberland’s Head at Clifton – a thatched pub where you can also stay (Tel: 01869 338534).
The racecourse, York Road, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS22 5EJ
Tel: 01937 582035 Web: www.wetherbyracing.co.uk
Wetherby, twelve miles north-east of Leeds, is the only course in Yorkshire to stage National Hunt only and consistently provides top-class racing. The track is a left-handed oval twelve furlongs round, with easy bends and is mostly flat suiting the free-running, galloping type of horse.
Major races: Charlie Hall Pattern Chase, Castleford Chase, Rowland Meyrick Chase
Celebrations: The track for enthusiasts of racing over jumps – The Windmill at Linton is a favourite with racegoers for good value food (Tel: 01937 582209). But if you’re heading north up the A1 The Black Bull at Boroughbridge is just off the motorway (Tel: 01423 322413).
Wincanton Racecourse, Wincanton, Somerset BA9 8BJ
Tel: 01963 32344 Web: www.wincantonracecourse.co.uk
Wincanton – located in Somerset between Yeovil and Frome – is a galloping and very fair course, about eleven furlongs round, with easy right-hand bends. Races are often run at a pretty frantic pace here. It’s the ideal venue for ‘prep’ races on the run-up to Cheltenham.
Major races: Charlie Hall Pattern Chase, Castleford Chase, Rowland Meyrick Chase
Celebrations: It can be thoroughly cold and wet at Wincanton – particularly when the wind blows the rain into the stand. So a break from the A303 can be well deserved at the fine old Spread Eagle at Staunton. There’s good food on offer here as well as somewhere comfortable to stay (Tel: 01747 840587). Further west The Kingsdon Inn at Kingsdon is a tiny place but well regarded for food – you can also get b & b here too (Tel: 01935 840543).
The Racecourse, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 5JJ
Tel: 01753 498400 Web: www.windsor-racecourse.co.uk
Flat and National Hunt
Situated alongside the Thames, Windsor is an easy track and quite flat. It is also very sharp: being a figure-of-eight so the runners are on the turn for much of the race. The National Hunt course runs on the outside of the first loop and the inside of the second. Particularly popular here are the evening meetings in the summer, when the ideal way of getting to the course is boarding a river boat at the Eton/Windsor bridge. A new grandstand at the course was opened by the Queen Mother in June 1995.
Major races (Jumps): New Year’s Day Hurdle, Fairlawne Chase
Celebrations: There are actually quite a few places at the track to eat well – especially on a summer evening when the steel band is playing. The Olde Red Lion at Oakley Green is close to junction 4 of the M4 (Tel: 01753 863892). Bray (M4 junction 9) has some very well known places to eat – but more reasonable price-wise is The Crown (Tel: 01628 621936).
Dunstall Park, Gorsebrook Road, Wolverhampton, West Midlands WV6 OPE
Tel: 0870 220 2442 Web: www.wolverhampton-racecourse.co.uk
Flat (all weather)
Wolverhampton’s place in racing history was assured when on 27 December 1993 it became the first course in the country to stage racing under floodlights, on the new all-weather track built on a site adjacent to the old turf course. The first meeting solely under floodlights took place on 7 January 1994. Wolverhampton’s redevelopment included a brand new grandstand, which incorporates a 370-seat restaurant from which patrons can watch the racing, in the manner of punters at a greyhound track. The new course is left-handed, approximately nine furlongs round, completely flat – and highly reminiscent of an American circuit.
Celebrations: We don’t blame you if the Holiday Inn, attached to the racecourse itself, is not your cup of tea! But it’s a hike down the M5 to find a worthwhile stop. The Bell and Cross at Holy Cross is 4 miles from junction 4 but worth going the distance for great food (Tel: 01562 730319). If you’re a racegoer heading for the M40 The Crabmill at Preston Bagot is also good for food (Tel: 01926 843342).
Grandstand Road, Pitchcroft, Worcester WR1 3EJ
Tel: 0870 220 2772
Situated near the centre of the city on the banks of the Severn, Worcester is a level course made up of two long straights joined at each end by fairly easy left-hand bends – so a good track for galloping types. The fences are not stiff, making this an excellent course for a novice chaser, and the course is highly popular with jockeys and Midlands trainers.
Celebrations: The facilities for racehorse owners at Worcester have long left more than a little to be desired. If you want to stay within resonable distance the Talbot Inn at Knightwick is very good – for food and bed and breakfast (Tel: 01886 821235). Walter de Cantelupe is handy near junction 7 off the M5 and you can get b & b here too (Tel: 01905 820572). The Wharfside Restaurant in the town is also good in a converted warehouse on the banks of the River Severn.
The Racecourse, York YO23 1EX
Tel: 01904 620911 Web: www.yorkracecourse.co.uk
One of the great British racecourses, York is situated just outside the city centre on the vast common land called the Knavesmire, which was once the place for public executions. Racing has been taking place on the site since 1731. Wide and flat, it’s a fair test with easy left-hand bends encouraging the relentless galloper. Races over less than a mile start on spurs off the main course. The standard of racing here is always high, with the August Meeting – including the International Stakes, the Yorkshire Oaks and the Ebor Handicap – dominating. Some have called York ‘the Ascot of the North’ but it’s generally recognised as one of the best racecourses in Europe.
Major races: International Stakes, Nunthorpe Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks, Ebor Handicap, Gimerack Stakes, Lowther Stakes, Dante Stakes, Musidora Stakes, Yorkshire Cup, Magnet Cup.
Celebrations: The appropriately named Gold Cup at Low Catton, east of York, serves food all day which is handy for hungry racegoers (Tel: 01759 371354). But for really good food The St Vincent Arms, south of York at Sutton upon Derwent, is the place to go (Tel: 01904 608349). York itself offers lots of options, of course, but the city is tricky for parking.