Racecourse Venue Guide
Types of Course
One of the many attractions of racing in the UK and Ireland is the variety of courses, both Flat and jumps. Anybody who has been racing overseas will appreciate the range of tracks in Britain and Ireland. In the United States just about every track seems to be a one mile left-handed oval and courses in Australia and France are standard. Variety is the spice of life and that applies to courses in this country. They can be left-handed or right-handed, undulating or flat, round or rectangular. Jockeys and trainers from other racing countries often say part of the appeal of racing in the UK and Ireland is the range of courses and their locations. Australia has its city, town and country tracks while Britain has urban and countryside locations for racing. The crowds are varied and this adds to the appeal of racing in the UK and Ireland.
We have put together a directory of racecourses with reference to track characteristics and the main races and meetings at each location. The International list is not exhaustive and by no means definitive but focuses on the major overseas races. National Hunt racing over obstacles has its roots in Ireland and developed in the UK but has not really grown in other racing jurisdictions which is why there are very few major jumps races overseas. All weather racing first took place in Britain in 1989 and there are now six all weather tracks with the possibility of more being built or developed from the modification of turf tracks. This type of racing caters for horses towards the bottom of the ratings and provides valuable back-up when turf racing is not possible due to water logging and snow and ice.
This directory of racecourses has been divided into the following five categories:
Some critics say there is too much racing in Britain but the variety of tracks brings uniqueness from each location. Track closures have been threatened but funding is now in place to support the many variations on the theme of a racecourse in the UK and Ireland which augurs well for the future of the sport.
Flat Racecourses in the United Kingdom
There are 29 Flat courses in Great Britain of which 11 are dual purpose in that they also stage jumps racing. The mixed courses are indicated in italics below but course features only refer to the Flat tracks at each venue.
A right-handed triangular track, slightly less than 1 mile four furlongs in length. The round course descends from the start into Swinley Bottom, the lowest part of the track. It ten turns right-handed and joins the Old Mile Course, which starts at a separate chute, six furlongs from the finish. Ascot stages the Royal Meeting in June and its other major race is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in July.
A left-handed oval course of 1 mile 3 furlongs with a straight run-in of 4 furlongs. The course is flat and has a straight 6 furlongs at 100 feet in width. Low numbers have a draw advantage on the straight course in big fields when soft. The principle race at the track is the Ayr Gold Cup in September.
A left-handed oval course of about one mile 4 furlongs with an uphill 4 furlongs run-in. The mile and 1¾ courses have over a quarter of a mile straight at the start. Bath does not stage any Group races but its main fixture is an evening meeting at the start of July and the course mainly races in the summer.
An egg-shaped right-handed course of 1 mile 3 furlongs with a straight run-in of two and a half furlongs. The track stages 17 meetings between April and September with no major races but good racing generally in a attractive location.
A horse-shoe shaped course with easy turns and 1 mile 4 furlongs in length. The first 3 furlongs are slightly uphill. There is then a slight descent and rise to about 4 furlongs from home, when the ground falls more steeply. The straight run-in measures about 3 1/2 furlongs. The most famous race held at Brighton is the Brighton Mile Challenge Trophy Handicap in early August.
A right-handed pear-shaped course of about one and a half miles. The first half mile is on the fall then it is uphill until approaching the mile post. The 6 furlong course is nearly straight and the last furlong is level. High drawn horse have an advantage on both courses. The track is the home of the Carlisle Bell, a seven furlong handicap run in June.
A left-handed oval of 1 mile and 180 yards almost flat; from the Catterick turn it is little short of half a mile and low numbers have an advantage. It is not one of the north’s most glamorous courses but there are 17 race days on the Flat from April to October.
Has a Mile Course that is quite straight with undulations. The left-handed Round Course is about 2 miles in circumference with undulations. All races run on this course join the straight mile 5 furlongs from the winning post. There is no draw advantage at Chepstow where the most important races are over obstacles but there are 16 Flat days from April to September.
A flat, circular course of 1 mile and 73 yards. The Chester Cup course is two miles and more than two furlongs. This is the most famous race at the track and takes during the May Meeting which also features trials for the upcoming Classics. Low drawn horses are favoured in most races.
A straight course of 1 mile. A mile course has been constructed to come into the Round Course at a tangent. The left-handed Round Course is about 1 mile seven and a half furlongs in circumference. All races beyond one mile are run on this part of the track. The St Leger is the most significant Flat race at Doncaster, run in September being the final Classic of the season and oldest Classic in the world.
Shaped like an elongated horseshoe. The Derby Course of one mile four furlongs rises about 150 feet over the first half mile; one third of a mile on top of the Hill is practically level and as the course turns left going downhill to Tattenham Corner. There is fall and sharp rise before the winning post. High numbers have a draw advantage in 5f and 6f events and low numbers in longer races. Epsom is known all around the world for staging the Derby the most prestigious Flat race in the sport around the world.
One of only three racecourses in Wales, with Chepstow and Bangor and is the newest. The track is one mile four furlongs long and 60 metres wide. The course was opened in 2009 and the most notable race is a jumps event, the Welsh Champion Hurdle in February. There are six Flat race days, from July to September.
Features a straight six furlong course. Races over longer distances start on the loop and join the straight via the top bend, but other races join the straight via a lower bend. There is no draw advantage at the track. The course’s main meeting is five days of racing at the end of July known as Glorious Goodwood at which the most prestigious race is the Group 1 Sussex Stakes.
The course is shaped like a buttonhook. Starting on front of the stands it is one mile 5 furlongs round and right-handed. The 6 furlong course is perfectly straight and 5 furlong races are run on this part of the course where there is no draw advantage. The most notable race is the Glasgow Stakes run over one mile 3 furlongs in July.
A left-handed oval course of about 1 mile and five furlongs in length. The six furlongs course is straight and nearly flat. Over the run-in of 4 furlongs there is a gradual rise up to the winning post. Horses drawn on the stands side have an advantage when the going is soft over sprint distances. The only Group 1 Flat race at the track is the Haydock Sprint Cup in September.
An oval right-handed course of 1 mile 6 furlongs with a run-in of 5 furlongs. The highest quality race at the track is the King Richard 111 Stakes run over 7 furlongs in April.