Musselburgh

MusselburghMusselburgh racecourse is located in the East Lothian council area of Scotland, six miles from the capital Edinburgh. It is a dual-race type track widely acclaimed for its stylish nature, and has races televised on Racing UK. It sits on Common good land, and is run by the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee (MJRC), a partnership between the East Lothian Council and the Lothians Racing Syndicate.

History

Racing began in 1777 at the Musselburgh, and continued until 1789 when most competitions were moved to Leith. The races made a permanent return to Musselburgh in 1816.

It was under the Lothians Racing Syndicate for the years after World War II, but was adversely affected by betting legislation and continued posting losses late into the 1980s. The local council took over its running in 1991, and brought it back to profit making within a year before establishing a new partnership with the syndicate.

The course underwent a £7.5 million upgrade in 1995, improving both viewing areas and the racing track.

The course

The course is pretty flat, with tracks for both flat and national hunt competitions. It has gentle turns in the starting sections and much more challenging bends towards the end. There are 12 obstacles in the jump circuit.

Within it lies a nine-hole golf course. The course is notable for elegance, be it in service, signposting or equipment design.

Musselburgh is accessible through a road bridge over the Esk, but this is only open on race days.

It has held the honour of 5-star Visitor attraction from Scotland’s national tourism organisation visit Scotland since 2006. In 2011, Musselburgh beat Ascot to win the Dual Purpose Award in the Neil Wyatt Racecourse Groundstaff Awards.

Races

The William Hill Scottish Sprint Cup and the Royal Mile Handicap are the two most notable races run within the track. The Edinburgh Cup, Caledonian Cup Raceday, Stobo Castle Ladies and Easter Saturday are also part on Musselburgh’s calendar, which totals roughly 28 fixtures within the year.

Market Rasen

market rasenMarket Rasen is situated at Market Rasen town in the Lincolnshire County of East England. It is a jump-type racecourse owned and run by the Jockey Club Racecourse.

History

Races in the town were run on different sites between 1828 and 1924, when they were moved to the current course. It was funded by four locals who raised funds to acquire the 50-acre property for a permanent site to avoid the perennial shifting.

A 2008 earthquake did affect the racecourse, but only minor renovations were required and no races were cancelled.

 

The course

Market Rasen is a right handed track, left handed over a length of 1  mile. It hosts National hunt races only, which run throughout the year despite the race type being associated with winter seasons. A point-to-point race formerly held in the left handed track was discontinued and the track is no longer used.

The course is famed for its family activity atmosphere. Children up to the age of ten are allowed free entry so long as they are accompanied by an adult. Group booking allows visitors to enjoy lower ticket prices, but the offer is in high demand and often requires early reservation.

Road and air access are the most convenient ways to get to market Rasen. Note that the market does charge a parking fee, which is waived for disabled racegoers. Air access can be made in three ways: landing by helicopter at the course with prior management approval, 5 miles off Wickenby Airfield landing for fixed-wing planes or Humberside Airport, 20 miles away, for larger planes.

Races

The Summer Plate is market Rasen’s foremost headline race. It is usually run on the third Saturday of July, the run-up to which creates a palpable buzz within the town. The Summer Hurdle is also held during this meeting. The Prelude Handicap Chase is also a popular race among the track’s loyal race goers.

Ludlow Racecourse

Ludlow Racecourse is located within the market town of Ludlow in Shropshire County, West Midlands, England. It is a National Hunt course owned by the Ludlow Race Club Ltd, with meetings televised on Racing UK.

History

Racing records at Ludlow date back to August 1729, although popular legend claims that that soldiers did come here in the fourteenth century to match their horses’ and practice archery. It set out as a flat race type course, with the track used for flat races back then still existent to date. Hurdles were introduced at the course in phases over the 19th Century, and it eventually departed from flat racing and adopted the more challenging and more popular jump races.

Course

Ludlow has two tracks, one for jump races and another for chase competitions. The chase circuit is one mile four furlongs in length, with an almost square shape that has sharp bends at every turn. The hurdles circuit is of the same shape, but is more undulating and has much more friendlier bends.

There is an 18-hole 70-par golf course within the race tracks, existing since 1889. A major road- B4365- cuts through the track at three points, and normally traffic is stopped when races are in progress.

Upgrades have been made over the last few years to both the track and viewing areas, most notable the restaurant areas which make the place more attractive for the social racegoer.

Access is best by road or rail. There is a free bus service from the nearby train station, while road access takes the A49 for the two miles to the North of Ludlow town. Helicopter landing can also be arranged in advance with the course management.

Races

There are 16 races per year, spread across two periods per year in January to May and October to December. Most races are mid-week fixtures named after sponsors who pay for the honour.

Lingfield

Lingfield Park is located in Lingfield town of Tandridge district in Surrey County, South East England. It is a dual-race type arena owned by the Arena racing Company, mostly hosting races for three and four-year-old horses in intense competitions .

History

It’s racing story dates back to 1890, when it was officially opened by the Prince of Wales. Unlike most other courses that were flat type first, Lingfield was initially a jump type track until flat racing was introduced in 1894.

There was a flooding problem at the course since the end of World II, up until 1982 when Ladbrokes sold the estate and the new owners erected flood defences.

The course

The course has two racing tracks; the flat and the National Hunt. The tracks are synthetic/polytrack, allowing racing to continue in all weather. This is unlike most other courses in the UK which carpet their tracks with regular turf.

Several upgrades have been done at the course over the past two decades, starting with the replacement of the Equitrack surface with polytrack in 2001. Then came with the £5.5 in 2004. The Marriot Hotel at the course is also considered a part upgrade, as it has served to increase the number of patrons visiting for events .

Races

Most aces at Lingfield are either Group 3 or Listed. The all-weather racing feature makes Lingfield a popular winter racing destination. The Winter Derby in February is in many aspects the course’s main race. It is preceded by the Winter Derby Trials earlier within the same month.

Other flat trial races include the International, Linfield Oaks and Lingfield Derby. The Spring Cup, Quebec Stakes, Churchill Stakes, Golden Rose Stakes and The River Eden Fillies Stakes are also popular races at the Lingfield site.

Lingfield Park was featured in the movie Rainbow Jacket, a film centred on a corrupt racing jockey, which premiered in London in 1954.

 

Leicester

Leicester Racecourse is a dual-race type track located in the small town of Oadby in Leicestershire County, East Midlands, England. It is owned by the Leicester Racecourse Company and has races televised on At The races.

History

The current course came into use in 1883, when it took over the races that were previously held for a century where the present day Victoria Park lies. In the 19th Century, Leicester hosted some of the most priced races in the British Classics category, among them the Portland Stakes and the acclaimed Prince of Wales Stakes.

The course

The track is oval shaped with an extending straight at the start. Its length is close to two miles. It is used both for flat and National Hunt competition, both right-handed. The flat is run on the straight when they are under a mile, and over the 1-mile 5-furlonds oval when they are longer.

The jump-races track is 1-mile six-furlongs in distance. It has ten obstacles in its course- seven fences, two open ditches and a water jump. The finishing kick is usually called upon in the last three furlongs where the gentle track empties out as an uphill. The open ditch previously fourth last in the line of obstacles was moved to the homestretch ahead of the 2009 season, upping the challenge further.

Besides racing, the course offers exquisite facilities for events like meetings and conferences. The Club Room is especially regarded a high quality facility. Access to Leicester is mostly by road or rail. A bus service operates between the course and Leicester train station during race days.

Races

The king Richard III Stakes run in April is the course’s headline race. The Bank Holidays in may are also a major attraction, albeit more as a family fun day than a viewing experience.

Famous horses

The course has seen some big names in its time, including legendary jumper Silver Buick, Zilzal, Corbiere, Time Charter and Seagram.

Kempton

This course is located within the London suburb of Sunbury, within Surrey County, England. It is a dual-race type track owned by the Jockey Club Racecourses, with racing events televised on Racing UK.

History

The course has been operational since 1878, when businessman S. H. Hyde opened its doors following a six-year development. It underwent a brief closure for refurbishment in 2005, and was re-opened he following year with a new synthetic all-weather track in place.

In 1889, an announcement that the Prince of Wales would visit Kempton led to the construction of a Royal Box within three weeks.

Much damage was done to sections of the course by a fire in 1932, but racing continued as repairs were done. The World Wars led to closures, as Kempton was used as a depot for transiting military weapons in the first and as accommodation place for prisoners of war during the second.

The course

The course sits on 210 acres of flat grassland, dotted by trees all around and two lakes within its area. It is relatively gentle in gradient, and has tracks for both flat and National Hunt racing. The flat track is synthetic since the 2006, when use of the famous Jubilee Track was discontinued.

Races

The King George VI Chase held on Boxing Day is the track’s most famous event. The Grade 1 National Hunt race attracts viewers such that the Grandstand is almost filled to capacity. The Bet Bright Chase, Desert Orchid Chase and the Sirenia Stakes are other notable events on the course.

Closure

Jockey Club Racecourses announced earlier in 2017 that they plan to close the racecourse to pave way for development of the land into around 3,000 homes. The plan is to be carried out in partnership with Redrow Homes, in what the owners say is a bid to raise money to develop horse racing at other courses they manage. If the plan goes through, Kempton will not be used for racing beyond 2021.

Mullins v Nicholls: Which horses are likely to triumph?

Paul Nicholls is aiming to cement his dominance over the British National Hunt scene by winning an 11th champion trainer title in 13 years this season. He was usurped by Nicky Henderson last season, but is currently leading the way this time around and looks a good bet to pull it off.

 

Over in Ireland, Willie Mullins is even more dominant as he has been named champion trainer in his homeland for the past decade. The real fun comes when Mullins heads over the Irish Sea to pit his wits against Nicholls in the big races, and he has enjoyed plenty of success. In 2015/16 he came within a whisker of becoming the first Irish-based trainer to win the British champion trainer title since Vincent O’Brien in the 1950s, only to lose out to Nicholls on the final day of the season at Sandown.

 

Their rivalry at big meetings like Cheltenham has captured the public’s imagination for years and it will be no different this season. Between them they have some of the most exciting horses of the season and we have picked out the leading lights to follow:

 

Politologue

Nicholls singled out Politologue when asked about his stable’s best chances of success this season and it is easy to see why. He put in several commanding performances to win novices’ chases and was leading the brilliant San Benedento in the G1 Maghull at Aintree in April, only to stumble after jumping the last to hand victory to his stablemate. He will start his autumn campaign at the Haldon Gold Cup and will surely spark a lot of interest in the Sporting Index spreads due to his considerable reputation.

 

Douvan

Mullins’ bay gelding was the star performer last season as he extended a superb 13-race winning streak with a number of victories over triple Gold Cup winner Sizing John. He destroyed all and sundry and looked unbeatable, only to break his pelvis and finish seventh in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. He has since been recovering, but Mullins is positive about his fitness and will reintroduce him to competitive action this winter, while Ruby Walsh is upbeat about his ability to bounce back. Once he gets into his stride, Douvan is a force to be reckoned with and if he returns to his best he will be invincible.

 

Benie Des Dieux

Mullins and Rich Ricci look to have another in a long line of excellent mares on their hands in Benie Des Dieux, who put in a stunning performance to claim the Closutton at Limerick on her debut. It was not the most competitive of races, but she travelled extremely well and looks a natural chaser.

San Benedento

The six-year-old chestnut gelding won four out of five races in 2017, including the Group 1 Maghull, and did well to hold onto Altior’s coattails in the Celebration Chase at Sandown. Altior is the best in the business over two miles, so to have stayed with him is a real achievement and if San Benedento can kick on Nicholls will have a real talent on his hands.

Coquin Mans

Mullins snapped up the son of Fragrant Mix after he won a maiden hurdle in France and he has since won all three of his contests. The first came at Limerick in December 2016, where he did well to hold off the charge of Surf Instructor and win by a head. He stepped up in trip to three miles at Wexford this summer as Walsh guided him to a 2 3/4 lengths win over Amaulino. In his last race, at Cork, he gave weight to all his competitors and thrashed the lot, finishing eight lengths clear of Jaime Sommers. Sterner tests await, but Coquin has strong breeding and fantastic potential.

Penhill

Brighton & Hove Albion owner Tony Bloom has seen his beloved team reach the Premier League this season, but his sporting success does not end there. He also owns Penhill, a superb dual-purpose horse that has made a splash in both the jumps and flats. Trained by Mullins, Penhill romped to victory in the hugely prestigious Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham and looks to have a great future ahead of him. Mullins guided Wicklow Brave to phenomenal success in both disciplines and Penhill could follow in those giant footsteps.

Topofthegame

This horse is a real giant and seems built for three mile trips and larger obstacles, so he should show his true ability this season. He is a 139 rated novice hurdler and has performed creditably thus far, but this should be the year when Nicholls gets the best out of him and spurs him on to success at his preferred trip. 

Frodon

Like San Bernedeto, Frodon has bags of experience and has always been there or thereabouts in all contests as he has stepped up in class. He has won seven of 14 career starts for Nicholls and has the ability to get much better, but he will find it difficult to deal with heavier weights this season.

Augusta Kate

Mullins’ mare draws an eclectic and famous group of owners: former England striker Alan Shearer, golfer Lee Westwood and TV stars Ant & Dec among others. They are likely to be well-compensated for their investment as she looks a terrific prospect. She has the pedigree – Yeats and Feathard Lady – to be a star and she blitzed the field on her bumper debut at Listowel. Expect to see her at Cheltenham, where she will be a threat to all comers.

 

Author bio

Martin Green is an experienced tipster and horseracing correspondent.

 

 

Kelso

kelsoKelso racecourse is located in the market town by the same name within Roxburghshire County, Scotland. It is a National Hunt course owned by Kelso Races Ltd, with events televised on Racing UK.

 

History

Racing at Kelso was first recorded in 1734, when it set out as a site for flat racing. The race type continued until 1888, when the United Border Hunt became the first jump race to be introduced at the course. Flat racing ceased in the same period, and it has remained a jump races course to date.

In the course’s early days, races were moved to Balakelaw, but the decision proved unpopular as the new venue was far from town and also lacked grandstands. The result was a plunge in the number of racegoers, and a resultant dip in profits. The races were thus moved back to Berrymoss, and the race going trend shot up again, and has at this point grown into a culture.

The course

Kelso is considered the Scottish home of National Hunt races. It is a peculiarly shaped course, forming a trapezium shape on the circuit, which has a straight starting run hanging out like a human arm. It is a left handed course whose two tracks consist of sharp bends that give races a start-stop kind of dash, requiring high levels of skill and concentration from the jockeys.

It is widely regarded as the friendliest course in Britain, and has scooped the Best Small Racecourse award of the Racegoers Club numerous times.

Road access is the easiest way to get to Kelso, seeing as the closes railway station is Berwick, 22 miles away.

Races

It hosts thirteen fixtures in a season, between January and May. January, April and the final month of May carry the bulk of racing fixtures.

Morebattle Hurdle, Premier Kelso Hurdle and the King’s Own Challenge Cup are the most notable races run at Kelso. Trainers use races at in the first two months of the year to prepare for the Aintree National Hunt.

Huntingdon

huntingdonThe course is located in Brampton, close to the market town of Huntingdon in the Cambridgeshire county of England. It is a jump-races-only track owned by the Jockey Club Racecourses. Events at the course are televised on Racing UK.

History

The course has been host to jump events since 1886, when the first race was held in Easter. There were races scattered around Cambridgeshire at the time, but eventually Huntingdon took over as the main course in the area.

Course

The racetrack is a free-draining one-mile three-furlong surface, with a predominantly flat gradient. These factors make it a stable ground, allowing horses to exploit speed to the maximum. Jockeys and owners often refer to Huntingdon as The Home of Speed.

The course sits on the Brampton Racecourse Site of Special Scientific Interest, (SSSI) a 21.1 ha land area. The SSSI classification means it is a protected area, limiting the amount of modification that can be done on it. This has in no way curtailed the magnificence of the venue. The management has made good use of approved changes to set up a grandstand with private viewing suites, bars and betting areas. Service is great, reason the Huntingdon has recently been voted Best Small Racecourse in the region of East Anglia and South Midlands.

Part of service is a free car service present on race days to ferry racegoers between the train station and the racecourse. Also, young adults and senior citizens can receive discounted admission upon application.

Races

17 race meetings are held at the Huntingdon in a calendar year. The races are spread across nine months in the year, with the Peterborough Chase regarded as the most popular. The chase did move to other tracks in 2010 and 2012, as the frozen Huntingdon track proved unusable in those years.

Best Mate is probably the most famous horse to have run at the course, if you consider him greater than the Desert Orchid. Other big names like Edredon Bleu and One Man are also on its stats.

Hexham

hexhamHexham racecourse is located in the market town by the same name in Northumberland County, North East England. It is the only surviving recourse in the area, and has events screened on At The Races.

History

Racing at Hexham has been happening since the 1720s. It has however been threatened by closure many times, either from financial difficulties or competition from more attractive courses. The most famous race hosted here is the Heart of All England steeplechase, which has been running since 1907.

Charles William Chipchase Henderson has a special place in the history of the course. He acquired the property at a time when racing had virtually died in 1880, putting up racing and viewing facilities, some of which exist to this day.

Racing at Hexham was stopped during the Second World War, during which it was used as an ammunition site. Racing returned in 1946, and has been continuing since. A lot of upgrades were introduced in the 1990s, part of which included the construction of a lake within the premises.

The course

The racing circuit extends over a length of one and a half miles. It is generally flat, with an uphill climb close to the finish, which gives way to a perfectly flat distance in the run in which extends about 150 yards. The track is oval in shape, with another straight along the center which gives it three long stretches. It is used for national hunt races. Racing is left handed, with steep deeps that require racehorses to put every bit of stamina to use.

Acces by road is made easy by the clear signposting. The closest railway station is Hexham, 1.7 miles from the course. Air access is through the Newcastle airport 17 miles away or helicopter landing on the course which requires prior arrangements.

Races

The Heart of All England Hunter chase is Hexham’s premiere race. The Northumberland Day also attracts a good number of viewers. Racing takes place between February and December.