Exeter

Exeter is a venue for thoroughbred horse racing located near Exeter, Devon, England. It is locally called Haldon Racecourse from its location which is at the peaks of the Haldon Hills.

Location

The Exeter Course is located on the Haldon Hills. Initially, the course was described as “the two-mile fine oval course” before an additional one-mile course was created, stretching the length of the property to three miles. This was in the 1850s. At Exeter, one lap includes one water jump and several fences, some of which are dry ditches.

History

Due to Charles II’s love for the sport, Exeter is one of the several creations that came to be. In 1750, after the formation Jockey Club, rules governing horse races were standardised. In 2005, the Cheltenham Cup’s three times winner, Best Mate passed out and died after his jockey pulled up at the Exeter tracks. It is suspected that the course of his death was a heart attack.

By 2006, Haldon, Anstey, and Brockman were the main stands of the racecourse. Princess Royal, Anne opened the Haldon stand in 2004, while Lord Wyatt opened the Anstey in 1986. The perfect drainage and galloping nature of the course makes Exeter a public venue for novice chasers.

Controversy

In 1833, Peter Hennis and John Jeffcott shot at each other over Hennis spreading rumours that Jeffcott had been cheating during a previous race at the venue. Hennis was wounded in the exchange and succumbed a week later; Jeffcott went into hiding in Sierra Leone. This was the last duel of that kind at the Exeter Racecourse.

 

Notable races

.The Gold Cup race which took place in 1807 where Charles Somerset’s won.

.Select races focusing on three-year-old thoroughbreds that had their origin in the West Country.

.Gold William Hill Cup Chase which was formerly known as the Gold HaldonCup. This race is usually held in November.

.Charity races in the course include Clydesdale Horses Jockey Riding, courtesy of Devon Ambulance Services in 2013 and 2014 the Dartmoor Ponies with the help of Research Cancer UK.

Epsom Downs

This flat racetrack is so named due to some sections of it being part of the North Downs hills that extend from Surrey to Kent. It is located in the market town of Epsom in Surrey County, about 14 miles South West of the capital London. It is owned and operated by the Jockey Club Racecourses, and is widely known as the home to The Epsom Derby race.

History

Relative documents show the track to have been in existence in the first quarter of the 17th Century, tough the officially documented inaugural race was in 1661. It has always been a flat course, but has undergone many adjustments over the years both on the track and the viewing areas. The most recent upgrade was the 2009 Duchess Stand, which accommodates 11,000 patrons and is estimated to have cost around £23.5 million.

Course

The track is all flat, but is a good challenge for young inexperienced horses who are just setting out in their careers. It also serves as a stamina-building course for experienced horses seeking a return to their best. Both purposes are properly suited since the Epsom-extending all the way to Langley vale- is also home to 11 training camps. (the third largest training base in England)

Races

The Derby, a Group 1 race for three-year-old horses, descends on the Epsom Downss every first Saturday of June as competitors chase the best share of a purse worth over a million pounds. So common has this race become at the Downs, it is now widely regarded as the Epsom Derby.

The derby is run on a distance of 2423 meters, and is arguably the most watched race in England. The Oaks and The Coronation Cup are also held here on some occasions.

Part of the popularity of Epsom races arises from the course being in a public area, which makes watching races in the 130,000 capacity course free.

Eclipse from the late 1760s is probably the oldest of great horses to have trotted The Epson, where he remained unbeaten in an entire career.

Doncaster

doncasterDoncaster Racecourse lies within the market town of Doncaster in the county of South Yorkshire, North England. It is owned by the Arena Leisure Plc, and is commonly referred to as the Town Moor Course. It is a dual-race type left handed racing course.

History

Doncaster has a long and rich horse racing history, with regular race meetings recorded as far back as the 15th Century. The popularity of the races kept growing such that by 1600 it had become a ruffian attraction center. There were plans to end racing due to the infiltration of the violent characters, but the events proved to have rooted themselves too deep, and a racecourse was marked out in 1614 to solve the crisis.

Some of the oldest races that run to date- the St. Leger Stakes and the Doncaster Cup- began at this track. The Doncaster cup is the oldest regulated horse race of all races that are still existent worldwide, while the St. Leger Stakes is the world’s oldest classic.

The course

Owners describe the course as pear-shaped. It is a largely flat area, which is around 1 mile and 7 furlongs in distance. It is modelled for both flat and National Hunt competition. The gentle gradient of the track makes it a fair track for all categories of all categories, be it budding two-year-olds or aging five-year-olds.

It is an easily accessible area by road or rail, making it a popular destination among racegoers.

Races

Two of Britain’s 31 Grade 1 races- The St. Leger Stakes and The Racing Post Trophy- are run at The Doncaster in September and October. Jump races at each end of a calendar year sandwich the flat competitions.

Jump races held here include the Great Yorkshire Chase and the Summit Juvenile Hurdle. Flat competitions include the Cammidge Trophy, Park Hill Stakes and the highly regarded Sceptre Stakes as well.

Chester

Chester is the oldest racecourse in England that is still in use. It is also known as the Roodee. Near the centre of the field lies a raised mound that is decorated with a small cross called a ‘rood’, which explains the name. Chester racecourse lies on the banks of River Dee.

Horse racing

The Chester Racecourse field was used for the Goteddsday, which was a famous and bloody event until its abolishment and replacement with horse racing in 1533. With the permission of Mayor Henry Gee, the first race took place in 1539. The name of the Mayor led to ‘gee-gee’ being used to refer to horses. After horse racing began, the races followed the Goteddsday routine of Shrove Tuesdays .The routine went on until the races dates were moved to St George’s day early 17th century. In 1824, the May festival, which still takes place, premiered in the Tradesmen’s Cup. That’s when the current Chester Cup was inaugurated. Any event at Chester Racecourse is a must-attend for serious connoisseurs due to its list of longest running race events in the UK.

 

Important races at Chester Racecourse

Chester racecourse has staged some of the brilliant tracks that are impossible to forget like;

ü The Chesire Oaks which has been an open event since 1950 for fillies running a 1 mile, 3 furlongs, and 79 yards distance. This game acts as a warm up for the Epsom Oaks race.

ü The Chester Cup, which takes place during the May festival and is open for thoroughbreds of four years and above running a distance of 2 miles, 2 furlongs and 147 yards.

ü The Huxley Stakes that is a Group 3 with a distance of 1 mile, 2 furlongs and 75 yards open for thoroughbred horses of four years and above

ü The Chester Vase which is open for three-year-old colts and geldings.

ü The Dee Stakes named in honor of River Dee which is a Group 3 race open for three-year-old colts and geldings.

Chepstow Racecourse

Chepstow is one of Wales’ three horseracing course, located in the south eastern county of Monmouthshire, close to the border with England. It is a dual-race type course owned by the Arena Racing Company.

History

 

There has been racing in the Chepstow area since around 1892, but this particular course was first used in 196. It was set up by a group of businessmen, but then suffered a financial crisis during its first decade due to unforeseen costs that arose. Initially, it had a flat ace track only, before jumping was introduced in 1927.

One standout feature since its inception was the attractive purse it carried, which earned the course a reputation in Wales as the ‘Welsh Goodwood.’

 

The course

Chepstow has a track for flat and National Hunt racing. The course is left handed, gently undulating with a one-kilometer straight at the finish. This makes it an ideal course for horses and jockeys who count acceleration as one of their strengths. The course has also been praised for its gentle turnings, which attract jockeys due to their safety.

In jumping races, the course has eleven fences that horses go over, upping the challenge of balancing acceleration and power.

The course is also available for conferences, concerts and other personal events.

 

Races

Flat races are run in the summer and jump races in winter. In total, Chepstow hosts 32 racing fixtures in a calendar year. Most popular among these races is The Welsh Grand National, slotted right after Christmas. The 27th December date makes it a perfect family event, and it records one of the highest viewer turnout in most years.

The Totepool Jumps Festival, Silver Trophy Handicap, Persian War Novices’and Finale Juvenile Hurdles are other popular races run at the course. Photography and filming of races is done only officially, but these images are available for sale in the course’s website.

Cheltenham

Cheltenham is located in a town by the same name, inside Gloucestershire County, South West England. The Jockey Club Racecourses-owned course sits on the Prestbury Park, and underwent a redevelopment worth £45m in 2013. Its main claim to fame is the annual Cheltenham Festival held in March.

History

The course has been used for horse racing purposes since 1831, when flat races were moved to Prestbury from Nottingham Hill to evade the church’s violent opposition to horse racing. Most modelling and development was done in the 1920s, but works have been done over the years to accommodate dynamic crowds and racing trends.

The venue

Cheltenham is regarded a natural amphitheatre because it attracts many other events besides horse racing. It can hold 67,000 spectators across the sections, with a grandstand and Royal Box to catch all the action from.

There are two racing courses, the Old and New, with slight variations from each other. One particular downhill fence is a source of interest for spectators, as it is tricky and requires horses and their riders to be at their best.

There are also member areas and bar facilities within the course, all upgraded during the 2013 redevelopment.

Notable races

During the annual festival, Grade I Races like the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle, and Stayers’ Hurdle take place. Many notable races have taken place in these events, among them the five races won by Golden Miller in the 1930s.

Horses who ran there

Golden Miller remains the most legendary horse to run here, with five consecutive Gold Cup wins. L’Escargot in 1975, Arkle in 1996, Best Mate in 2004 and Kauto Star in 1999 also deserve a mention.

Other events

Inside the Cheltenham is Centaur, an auditoria with a 2000 sitting/4000 standing capacity for conferences and concerts. Major events held here include the Greebelt faith, arts and justice festival, Wynchwood Music Concert and Gloucestershire University’s graduation and summer ball.

Chelmsford City

chelmsford cityChelmsford City Racecourse is a racing venue found in Great Leighs near Chelmsford, Essex, England. It was formerly called Great Leighs Racecourse. The racecourse is owned by John Holmes and son, Jonathan and was officially opened on 20/04/2008.

History

Chelmsford held its first race meeting with an audience on 28/05/2008 and the opening race was won by Temple of Thebes. It is a flat Polytrack type of course. The racecourse became famous for its racing facilities but was also criticised for its incomplete visitors’ facilities and thus did not meet expectations at many levels. The venue can host races during winter as well as summer.

Closure

Racing was halted temporarily on 16/01/2009 and the site put on a bid. It was announced in March that the two bidding parties had been unable to prove that they had sufficient finances to manage it.

Leasing and selling

The Administrators made an 18-month lease deal with Terry Chambers who is a local businessman, but the course was ineligible to bid for fixtures since it was unable to acquire a racing licence in time. The racecourse was expected to resume racing in 2011 after the administrators struck a deal with Chambers and Bill Gredley, where the pair would buy the racetrack. However, the plans did not succeed as the deal did not pull through. MC Racetracks bought the course in November 2011, but the British Horseracing Authority turned down an application to hold fixtures in 2013. BHA however allowed Chelmsford to be among the fixture venues of 2014.Still, when the owners submitted requests for it to host fixtures in 2014, the BHA rejected it. Later in 2013, the racecourse was bought by Betfred’s owner Fred Done and sought the approval of BHA for 2015 fixtures.

Reopening

With an invited crowd of 800 people, the racetrack reopened on 11/01/2015. A public reopening later took place on 22/01/2015, with the first race going to Tryster by a short head.

Catterick

The course is located just off Catterick town in North Yorkshire County, North East England. It is a dual-race type course, often referred to as Catterick Bridge. It is owned by the Catterick Racecourse Limited.

History

The course has been existent since the mid-17thCentury, although official records only reveal racing stats starting 1783. It was not until 1813 that the current permanent course was built. Many refurbishment changes have been done to the course in the time of its existence, but there has always been a deliberate effort to maintain its original touch. As such, the present Grandstand still possesses some elements of the stand that occupied its place in 1906.

The course

Catterick is a left handed oval course, gently undulating over a length of slightly over a mile. It is modelled for both flat and jumping competitions. The jump races take the start and end of every year- when conditions are wintry- while flat racing occurs in the warmer months between April and October.

It has a gravel sub-soil under the grass, a factor that makes it a relatively stable surface.

Thee course does not have a formal dress code requirement.

Races

January’s Grand National is the headline event every year at Catterick, attracting most racegoers of all 25 fixtures that are run here annually.

The first batch of jump races starts with the New Years day race on January 1, and ends with the Hunt Staff Benefit Society Countryside Day in mid-March. Jumping returns again in November during the Start of The Jumps, and closes the year with the Go Racing in Yorkshire Winter Festival at the end of December. The flat races in between start with the Easter Race Day and end with The Halloween Race Day.

Catterick boasts being the debut track for eventual international flat-track champion horse Colier Hill, who ran his first competitive race at the ground in 2002.

Cartmel

Cartmel Racecourse is a jumps-race track located in the countryside village by the same name in Cumbria County, England. It is considered a small course, but races are still televised on Racing UK. It is owned by Lord Cavendis, who acquired it in 1998.

History

The track has been galloped by racehorses since 1856 according to records, but stories of horse racing stretch further back. Landowners from the vllage were the main source of funding for the small course, which did not adopt professional racing until after the second World War.

The track was caught up in an attempted fraud scandal in 1974, when trainer Antony Collins produced a weak version of the horse ‘Gay Future’in order to get beter odds from bookmakers. The scandal was later adopted into the movie ‘Murphy’s Stroke’in 1979.

The course

The course’s shape is a unique oval, with gentle bends on one side that make it appear more like a soft-edge rectangle. The other end of the oval skews to one side, such that one bend is sharp and the other is absolutely smooth- no need for slowing down as a horse navigates.

The finishing straight then cuts across the oval, joining its two long arms.

Cartmel enjoys a rich race going culture, with around 20,000 spectators arriving on some race days. This puts it third in the list of attendance at jump courses in Britain, only behind Cheltenham and Aintree. It maintains a culture of letting people have fun besides horse racing, sometimes with a break between three days of racing for people to visit the country. The allowing of cars to drive right into the middle of the course and choose spots from which to catch races is a popular move, as is the permission to set up bbqs.

 

Races

There are seven race days in the Cartmel calendar, with the Bank Holidays of August proving to be by far the most popular. The most memorable horse on the track is Soul magic, who has won here seven times before 2014.