Stratford-on-Avon

Stratford-on-Avon, commonly referred to as Stratford-upon-Avon, is a small-jumps racecourse located in the parish town by the same name within the landlocked county of Warwickshire, West Midlands, England. It is owned by the Stratford-on-Avon Racecourse company, with action televised on At The races.

History

The course has been in operation since 1755. Racing was initially held in a meadow without much control of the racing area. This led to a complaint by farmers to the local council about ruin to crops during races, causing a closure threat. The races stopped for close to a century, only resuming in 1839 in a more organised structure.

Much of the improvement on the current course was done after 1950, during which a grandstand and decent restaurants came up. More land was bough to open up the borders of the circuit in 1969, and a water jump introduced just outside the stands.

The course

The racing circuit is a triangle with soft edges. It is relatively flat and wide, but there are sharp turns at short intervals requiring skill and concentration to be at best during races.

It is considered a small course, although it does contain Touring Park within its borders where there is a 192-grass-pitch campsite. At the middle is the larger area used for rallies and other events. June’s Motorhome and Caravan car show and August’s Blue Rodeo and Camra Beer Festival are standout events here.

Access by road or rail is most ideal. The town’s railway station is a short five-minute cab journey, and under half an hour by foot.

Races

There are 18 race meetings on Stratford’s calendar fixture. Chase races are most common here, consequently earning the course the title ‘home of Hunter-Chasing.’ May’s Intrum Justita Champion Hunters Chase is arguably the most popular race at the course. The Garrick Jubilee Cup,Corbet Cup and the Roddy Baker Gold Cup are also popular races here.

Races at Stratford are held between March and November.

Is the Grand National the Biggest Race in the World?

Each April, thousands of spectators descend upon Merseyside for the Aintree Festival which takes place across the three days and culminates with the Crabbies Grand National. This iconic and historic steeplechase is contested over the four miles and three and a half furlongs and is one of the standout events on the sporting calendar in the UK. Many consider the stamina-sapping event to be the biggest race in the world and it’s difficult to disagree. The Kentucky Derby, the Melbourne Cup and the Dubai World Cup are all magnificent spectacles in their own right but very few of these events are able to capture the nation’s imagination in quite the same way.

 

Source: Oxford Medicine Admissions via Twitter

 

The Grand National is always a hugely anticipated event with multiple generations often coming together to discuss the relative chances of each runner and this inevitably creates a buzz in betting shops around the country. Forty runners will zip around the iconic course negotiating each of the legendary fences in a bid to collect the lucrative prize pot for connections. Total Recall, trained by Willie Mullins is the current 10/1 favourite in Paddy Power’s Aintree betting odds but those at the head of the market generally have a poor record in this race. The competitive nature of the event generally favours outsiders and this element of unpredictability simply adds to the thrill.

 

Britons who rarely gamble will make an exception on Grand National day and those who have little knowledge about the sport tend to make an effort to at least read through the 40-strong card on the morning of the race. There are very few sporting events that are able have this effect on the public. Almost half of the country had a punt on the race in 2016 with around £250,000 wagered on the four-miler. Around 35 million bets were struck ahead of the event, which eclipses the totals staked on the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Kentucky Derby. This is further evidence that the Grand National is the biggest race in the world and interest in the steeplechase continues to grow each year.

 

 

Source: Racing Post via Twitter

 

Many trainers target the race with their runners and the contest always attracts a high-quality field. Participants must complete almost two circuits of the course whilst negotiating Becher’s Brook and the infamous Canal Turn. One of the most famous winners of the race is Red Rum, who is forever immortalised at the course following his three wins in the legendary steeplechase. The contest has also produced a number of feel-good stories such as Aldaniti being ridden home by Bob Champion, who had recently completed his recovery from cancer back in 1981.

 

The majority of British citizens can remember their first Grand National bet and many will also have fond memories of picking their first winner. It is a race that brings the country together and since the BHA moved the race to a later timeslot of 5:15pm, viewing figures have improved significantly. Very few sporting events can provoke the same level of interest as the Grand National and despite competition from the Melbourne Derby, it still retains its crown and can confidently proclaim to be the biggest race in the world.

 

 

Southwell

Southwell is a dual race-type course located close to the market town of Newark, Nottinghamshire County in East Midlands, England. It is owned by the Arena Racing Company and televised on At The Races.

History

The course has been operation since the mid-19th Century, when the first recorded jump races were run. Flat races were introduced several years later. The flat competitions were however not very popular, since the soil surface was deemed unstable and difficult. The first grandstand was opened in 1886, raising complains among race participants who felt the course should have received first attention.

Eleven years later, with a dwindling number of participants, the course management agreed to put up a new track in an ambitious plan that stretched until 1965. The project involved laying a mixture of sand and fibre to make the course more stable.

Further improvements were made after this phase and in 1989, the track was declared to be all-weather and the first National Hunt on all-weather track was run.

Flooding forced the track to close temporarily in 2012 to allow for repair of damaged buildings and tracks. When it re-opened in 2013, attendance was limited as repairs in some areas were still ongoing.

The course

The circuit is an almost perfect oval, with an extending arm at one end where races start. It slants downhill on the first straight of the oval, then back uphill on the opposite side. The run in and finish is on a straight downhill, allowing racehorses to finish in full gallop.

Dress code is strict in some areas, where you may not access in shorts or trainers. Access by road is through the A1 from Rolleston. It is also well signposted in theA617 from the southern side. Rolleston train station is close to the course. £40 motel accommodation is also available, though high demand may require an early booking.

Races

The course is busy throughout the year, with a staggering 74 fixtures on its calendar. It has been a fertile racing ground for 23-time Royal Ascot winner Frank Dettori, and Hayley Turner, a female jockey.