Newcastle Racecourse

Published: 14/10/2013
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Based within the 812-acre estate of High Gosforth Park, Newcastle Racecourse is about three miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne city centre in Northumberland, Northeast England. Its left-handed, triangular track, which features a straight course for distances of up to a mile, has been designated a Grade 1 dual code course for both flat and National Hunt racing. Among the 30 fixtures scheduled here each year, the primary highlight is mid-summer’s Northumberland Plate, which is worth some £180,000 in prize money.

The Pride of Northumberland

For more than 350 years, one form of horseracing or another has taken place in the North East. Records indicate that a race meeting was organised at Killingworth in the early 17th century. In 1833, Town Moor hosted the inaugural running of the Northumberland Plate, which was won by a horse called Tomboy. The event continued at that location each year until 1881, when the race was shifted to its current home at High Gosforth Park.

The site for the Newcastle Racecourse was part of an estate previously owned by the Brandling Family and sold for £60,000 to a “body of speculators” who believed they could profit from the creation of a proper facility for flat racing and jumps. In addition to the track, the 805-acre property was prepared to accommodate stabling for 100 horses plus a grandstand. The 1882 running of the Plate at Gosforth Park signaled the beginning of what the new owners hoped would be “a fair return for their trouble and outlay.”

Over the next 130 years, Newcastle Racecourse expanded its signature race into June’s three-day Northumberland Plate Festival. Also added to its annual calendar were such popular attractions as the Blaydon Races in August and the Beeswing Ladies Day held in July. The latter event was named after the most famous horse never to have won the Plate, despite victories in 46 of her 51 career races. Meanwhile, the property also grew to include Parklands and Northumberland Golf Clubs, a nature reserve and a Scout Camp.

By 1994, in spite of backing from Newcastle Breweries, Bellway Homes and private shareholders, Newcastle Racecourse had fallen into disrepair; it was subsequently purchased by Sir Stanley Clarke’s Northern Racing. Some £11 million was invested to upgrade facilities for guests, create a new Parade Ring and develop the straight mile flat track. Lighting was also provided for night racing and the schedule was adjusted to allow for race action from New Year right through to Christmas.

Racing at Newcastle Today

Apart from the aforementioned meetings, featured events at Newcastle Racecourse include February’s Betfred Eider Chase as a rehearsal for the Grand National and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle in November, which serves as the highlight of the jumps season. Summer racing, Autumn racing and the new Easter Monday Raceday add excitement to the calendar, too. Tickets are priced from £13 for regular fixtures and £15 for special meetings. All children 18 years and under are admitted free.

Newcastle Racecourse makes a number of packages available, too. The Hospitality Restaurant Package, for example, provides a premier admission ticket, three-course lunch, reserved seating in the hospitality restaurant for the duration of racing and a raceday programme; it is offered for all non-festival fixtures at a price of £72. Then, for selected fixtures, there’s the Grande Buffet Package for £138 per person with its afternoon tea plus a fine dining buffet, including a cold smorgasbord of seafood, meats, antipasto and salads, carvery and hot selections, a vegetarian table, grande dessert and cheese table.

Note that the Premier Enclosure, which allows access to all public areas of the racecourse, has an official dress code of smart casual, and smart attire is preferred. The Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure provides restricted access to public areas of the course and there is no dress code.

Published on: 14/10/2013

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