Warwick Racecourse

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Warwick Racecourse is ideally situated in Warwickshire in the very heart of England. It is nestled next to Warwick Castle, just a quarter mile walk from Warwick town centre and with easy vehicular access via the M40 (Junction 15), M42, M5 and M6. It ranks among the oldest courses in the United Kingdom, featuring a flat, left-handed track that’s quite sharp in spite of being one mile and six furlongs in length. Throughout the year, the course hosts some 21~25 race meetings for both flat and National Hunt racing, including such notable events as the Grade 2 Totesport Kingmaker Novices’ Chase in February and the Eternal Stakes held in June.

A Long Racing History

Records indicate the race meetings were first conducted in the vicinity of Warwick as far back as 1694 and the inaugural race at the current course was held in 1707. Although racing occurred intermittently throughout the 18th century, it was not until 1809 that the first stand was completed at a cost of £800. That’s when Warwick Racecourse held its first-ever jump meeting—the forerunner of the National Hunt as it is known today.

Facilities at Warwick Racecourse were just barely passable in the first half of the 20th century. Jockeys complained about the track, saying it was the worst they had ever seen. In 1967, after some horses sank into the mud by over a foot, a call went up for the abandonment of racing, but instead the course was acquired by Racecourse Holdings Trust, who set a series of renovations in motion.

As the course improved, so did the quality of the racing. Legendary jockeys Lester Piggott and John Francome raced at Warwick in the mid-1980s. Daryll Holland rode his first-ever winner here, Sinclair Boy, in 1990, and a dozen years later Tony McCoy rode Valfonic to victory on this course to beat Sir Gordon Richards record of 269 winners in a season. Among current jockeys who have done well at the course are Eddie Ahern and Jamie Spencer.

Several National Hunt races have been launched at Warwick Racecourse, such as the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase in 1991, named for the 16th Earl of Warwick, who was regarded as the “Kingmaker” during the Wars of the Roses. It was followed in 2002 by the Grade 2 Leamington Novices’ Hurdle and then the Grade 3 Classic Chase in 2004. Another milestone was achieved in 2003, when the course hosted its first Listed flat race, the £30,000 Eternal Stakes under the sponsorship of Betfair.com.

Warwick Racecourse has attained some celebrity status as the venue used in such popular BBC TV series as “Dangerfield” (1999) and “Dalziel and Pascoe” (2006). Meanwhile, a new grandstand was opened at a cost of £3 million in 2000, and the entire course benefited from the Modernisation Project undertaken in 2007~08. In the middle of the racecourse, a nine-hole golf course and a golf driving range have been opened, and the area has become a popular place for local dog walking.

Racing at Warwick Today

Warwick Racecourse offers a full racing calendar all year round, with meetings scheduled on weekdays and weekends, afternoons and evenings. Featured among premium racedays in the first half of the year are the Classic Chase in January, the Kingmaker Chase in February, Countryside Day in March and Ladies Day in May. During the second half, there is the Gentlemen’s Day in July, followed by Family Fun Days in August, the Flat Finale in October and the New Year’s Eve Jumps fixture on 31 December. Many of the events are televised.

The upgraded facilities at Warwick Racecourse are now renowned for comfort and luxury. The Main Enclosure allows ticket holders to enjoy food and beverage options at the historic Dukes Bar, Scudamore Bar, Westgate Bar and The Chandler Seafood and Champagne Bar. It also provides access to the Parade Ring, the Winner’s Enclosure, bookmakers and excellent viewing across the racecourse from the Grandstand. Admission for adults is £15 on standard days and £20 on premium days.

In the centre of the course is the Course Enclosure, ideal for family outings with free entertainment provided for children plus access to betting facilities, bars and food outlets. Tickets cost £10 (no concessions) for adults. Children aged 17 and under get in free to any fixture when accompanied by a paying adult.

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