Windsor Racecourse

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Published: 08/10/2013

Windsor Racecourse is also referred to as Royal Windsor Racecourse, owing to its association with Windsor Castle. Located on the banks of the River Thames, it occupies 165 acres of lovely Berkshire countryside with a figure-of-eight track measuring a mile and a half and featuring sharp bends. The dual-purpose course is used primarily for flat racing held between April and December, when about 26 fixtures are scheduled, including the Royal Windsor Stakes in May and the Winter Hill Stakes in August.

History

Although horse racing in the Windsor vicinity dates back to the reign of King Henry VIII, the first recorded race meeting here was not held until 1866. Since then, Royal patronage of the course has been ongoing, providing a strong link between the crown and the public. Indeed, throughout World War One, Windsor Racecourse remained open to help boost the morale of the population and defenders of London.

In 1926, then Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill made an unpopular move, as he attempted to impose a betting levy of two percent on racecourse transactions. The bookmakers at Windsor rebelled by refusing to accept wagers, thus forcing enactment of the tax to be abandoned by 1928. Ironically, Churchillís own horse, Colonist II, would go on to win the Lime Tree Stakes at the course some 21 years later.

The proximity of Windsor Racecourse to the river Thames has caused some problems over the years. On one occasion, jockey Des Cullen lost control of his horse while rounding the bottom bend and he was thrown into the passing current. On the other hand, the course does seem to suit other riders quite well, such as jockey Richard Hughes, who won an incredible seven out of eight races conducted at a single Monday Evening Meeting in October 2012.

National Hunt jump racing was all but abandoned at Windsor Racecourse in December 1998. The rare occasions when it has been featured since then have typically involved the staging of displaced events from Ascot Racecourse, particularly during its refurbishment in the mid-2000s. For example, the two-time World Hurdle Champion Baracouda won his fourth Ascot Hurdle on this course in 2004.

Racing at Windsor Today

Among the most popular events in all British racing is the 13-week series of Monday Racenights conducted each summer at Windsor Racecourse, with live acts performing on the Paddock Lawn stage after key fixtures. Many of these meetings have themes, such as Ladies Night and Irish Night, plus thereís a three-day festival at the end of June that encompasses Gentlemanís Day and Ronnie Scottís Night. It is not unusual to see pop stars, sporting figures and television celebrities in attendance, as Pimms and Champagne are the order of the day and the romantic river frontage becomes a massive garden party.

Other featured meetings are the three October Autumn Afternoon Fixtures, also on Mondays. Admission to the Club Enclosure typically costs £22, while Grandstand Enclosure tickets go for £16 and entry to the Silver Ring Enclosure (picnic area and childrenís playground) is priced at £8. Alternatively, there is a £38 Racegoers River Package that includes a return river taxi trip from Windsor town, a Club Enclosure ticket, a £10 drink voucher, a £2 Totepool betting voucher and a racecard listing the dayís runners and riders.

To combine dining with racing at Windsor Racecourse, packages at two fine restaurants are available. The Castle Restaurant overlooking the racecourse offers a three-course meal with coffee, free parking, entry to the race and a race card for £77.50, or add a seafood platter and champagne on arrival for just £12 more. Then, the Club Restaurant situated in the original grandstand has a £50 package with a two-course meal, entry, parking and a race card, or add a third course for £5 more. Traditional and vegetarian hampers are also available on selected dates, priced at £60 per person and inclusive of admission, parking and a race card. Racegoers are encouraged to wear smart attire.

Published on: 08/10/2013

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