Fontwell Park

Fontwell ParkFontwell Park racecourse is nestled in the Sussex countryside. The racecourse has been hosting horse races since 1924 and is now owned by ARC Racing. In Fontwell, West Sussex, the oval hurdles course has always spurred a lively atmosphere in the village of Fontwell.

Beginings

The founder of the racecourse, Alfred Day, had come to train horses at The Hermitage. After acquiring enough land he opened the racecourse and named it Fontwell. Since the first meeting in May 1924, the racecourse has carved a reputation for itself as the Best Small Racecourse in the South East, a title it has held 12 years running. Fontwell Park is the course where Queen Elizabeth II, at the time still princess Elizabeth, won her first race as an owner in the Chichester Handicap Race in 1949.

History

Fontwell Park is also notable for hosting 5 of the 85 starts in which National Spirit went on to win. The most notable of his wins was the Rank Challenge Cup that he retained for 3 years consecutively. The hurdles race National Spirit has been hosted on Fontwell Park in his honour since 1965. The race has attracted many prominent names such as Comedy of Errors, Baracouda and most recently My Way de Solzen.

ARC Racing has made lots of improvements to the racecourse, including a new grandstand which shot up attendance numbers by 23%. The venue is also hosts other events when none of the 24 meetings in its calendar are on and has wonderful catering and enough space for all types of events.

Races

There are a number of notable races such as Easter Extravaganza Raceday, St. Patrick’s Raceday and Ladies Evening which is a day filled with glamour, horse racing, live music, and of course the ladies.

The racecourse has an Annual Badge that goes for £230 and gives you access to all fixtures. The badge allows you incentives that come with a Premier Enclosure ticket plus free parking.

Ffos Las

Ffos Las Ffos Las racecourse is a dual-race type course owned by the Fos Las Ltd. It is located in Llaneli town within the county of Carmarthenshire, West Wales. Northern Racing is the company mandated to run the course, with races televised on At The races.

History

Ffos Las is absolutely new by the standards of racecourses, having only opened its doors in 2009. It came up as a sort of reclamation plan, taking the place Europe’s largest open cast coal mining after the colliery closed operations. It is surrounded by Carway and Trimsaran mining villages, with the culture of miners still evident in the area.

The first race run here was a national Hunt, with the event’s 10,000 tickets sold out. It was won by Plunkett, who started as second favorite. Plunkett was owned by Hywel Jones, trained by Evan Williams and ridden by Donal Fahy.

Flat racing first happened in July 2009-the Jamie Yeates Memorial Maiden Stakes. It was won by Dream Queen who was trained by Barry Hills and ridden by Michael Hallis.

The course

The name Ffos Las means ��Blue Ditch.’ The course sits on a 600 acre property, and is used for both flat and national Hunt racing. The young age of the course means it had the advantage of taking many lessons from older courses as it was built, resulting in a hybrid facility that can be compared to the best surfaces across Europe. The track is 60 meters in width, well drained and level for pretty much its entire length.

Races

The course has hosted a varying number of races during its short span of existence as it continues to establish itself. It is still in the process of attracting big events and renowed horses, but is surely on its way there.

The 2017 calendar has 16 races scheduled. The Welsh champion Hurdle, a handicap grade jump race run over two miles, is arguably the Blue Ditch’s headline race.

Much of its racing is still in the planning stage, with a Celtic Festival intended for the period of St. David’s day. Equestrian events are also on the cards.

Fakenham

Fakenham Racecourse is located within the market town by the same name in Norfolk County, England. It is a jump races track owned by the Fakenham Courses Limited, and screened on At The races.

History

The first race run on the track was the West Norfolk Hunt on Easter Monday in 1905. The race was initially hosted by the East Winch; the decision to move it was informed by the thought that Fakenham’s lighter soil made it more suitable. A total of 37 participants took place in that first race, and it henceforth became an annual Easter event.

A hurdle race was then introduced in 1926 in the face of dwindling steeplechase racing.

Racing took a break during World War II, and resumed in 1947. Queen Elizabeth visited Fakenham in 2000, an unlucky year in which bad conditions caused the races to be stopped. The One million-pound worth ��’Prince of Wales stand” was opened by the man himself in 2002.

The course

Fakenham is left handed and gently undulating along its one-mile length. It is shaped like a distorted square, and has sharp turns with obstacles in close proximity at these bends. It has two courses, the traditional steeplechase and the hurdle. The steeplechase moves on the outside of the hunt, with a total of six fences within the circuit.

Within it are golf, tennis and squash playing facilities which were introduced in 1965 to serve the local community. No formal dress code is observed.

Rail is the least convenient way to get to the countryside course, as the nearest station lies 16.9 miles away. Road and air are however convenient, the latter via Norwich Airport or on site with prior arrangement.

Races

There are nine meetings held at the course throughout the year. The Easter Monday Race has retained its appeal and is the headline of all National Hunt competitions held here. The Charity Day race is also a major attraction.

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.