Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse

Published: 06/08/2013

Set within the Welsh countryside, overlooked by picturesque hills, Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse is located near Wrexham, just southwest of the tiny two-pub village of Bangor-on-Dee and 25 minutes from Chester. It has the distinction of being the only racecourse in the U.K. that has not yet installed a grandstand. Featuring three sharp bends, the flat left-handed course is used primarily for National Hunt jumping, although it also plays host to amateur Point-to-Point races conducted by local hunts. A total of 16 fixtures are scheduled throughout the year, but with no racing in January or June.

From Milestone to Milestone

On the meadows at Bangor-on-Dee in 1858, a match across country was arranged between two members of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn’s Hunt—the Hon. Lloyd Kenyon riding Skip Jack and Richard Myddelton Biddulph of Chirk Castle mounted upon Grayling. As a large crowd of spectators looked on, Grayling easily claimed the £50 prize and a local tradition of racing was born for members of the hunt and local farmers.

In 1859, the first Steeplechase meeting was held over much the same course upon which races are held today. It kicked off with the Grand Wynnstay Steeplechase, run over a distance of about three miles. Attracting 12 runners, it was won by a six-year-old named Charley, owned by a Mr. Jones and guided by a jockey named Gaff. This event continued for 20 years, and in 1868 it was won Maid of Trent ridden by a 10-year-old boy named Fred Archer, who would go on to become one of the greatest jockeys of all time.

It was also at Bangor-on-Dee that jockey-cum-author Dick Francis first rode in 1947 and gained his first treble, winning three races here on the same day. More recently, famous riders associated with the course have included 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Christian Williams and 2010 Sports Personality of the Year Tony McCoy. Among trainers who like to send their novice horses to the course are Paul Nicholls, Alan King, Phillip Hobbs, Nicky Henderson, Donald McCain Jnr and Jonjo O’Neill, to name a few regulars.

Over the past two decades, the racecourse has progressed markedly. The original wooden buildings have been replaced by modern facilities. Amateur Point-to-Point races were introduced in 2006 using the inside of the main track, and in spite of having no grandstand, crowds numbering more than 4,000 gather for races during the winter months and 6,000 in the summer.

Racing at Bangor-on-Dee Today

Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse is much more than racing venue. It is a major part of the local community, employing ground staff from the surrounding villages and serving as a major part of the area’s economic structure. It is also the scene for socializing, offering facilities that can be used for weddings, private celebrations, conferences, banqueting and more.

Two excellent dining choices are offered on the grounds. Located near to the bookmakers area is the Wynnstay Restaurant with its own garden. It now features a walk-in cafeteria for Paddock ticket holders as well as a full menu of carvery dishes, salads, soups and sandwiches. There is also the Paddock Restaurant opposite the Parade Ring inside a spacious, glass-fronted building, where sumptuous menus and fine wines are complemented by a buzzing atmosphere. Outside on the terrace, the horses can be viewed close up, too.

Since May 2012, all former Tote betting positions have been replaced by the racecourse’s own in-house betting system known as bangorBET. Located around the course and close to every betting position are “live information” screens to give an indication of how much can be won. Raceday tickets and badges range from £7 for the Course Enclosure if purchased in advance to £20 at the gate for the Paddock Enclosure. Packages including Paddock access, a hot sandwich, a pint of beer or glass of wine, and a £2 bet are also available from £23 for selected fixtures.

Published on: 06/08/2013

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