Southwell Racecourse

Published: 15/08/2013

Southwell Racecourse is one of the premier sporting venues of the East Midlands. It is set in 145 acres of beautiful Nottinghamshire countryside, seven miles from the market town of Newark-on-Trent and 15 miles from Nottingham. The course hosts both jump and flat racing, featuring not only a turf course but also the only all-weather track in the United Kingdom that uses a fibresand surface. With dozens of fixtures scheduled all year round, Southwell ranks among the busiest racecourses in the U.K.


In 1886, the Southwell Racecourse opened along with its first grandstand, and although riding conditions were difficult, the first race meeting was conducted on 16 May 1898. The following year, a decision was taken to replace the existing course with a new track. For the next seven decades, the facilities would serve faithfully until a new enclosure stand was constructed and opened in 1965. The track became all weather in 1989, the same year that Southwell held its first all-weather National Hunt meeting.

For nearly a quarter century, Southwell Racecourse has been praised for its unique running surface. Although jumping is conducted only on the turf course, where a handful of fixtures are still arranged under both codes, the track is known principally for its all-weather flat racing on the track laid with fibresand, which rides deep and tends to give stamina-laden performers an advantage over their rivals. In fact, American-bred horses quite often do well here. For National Hunt meetings, the hurdles used are temporary and removable, providing a fair jumping test for novices and pros alike.

Jockeys that have fared well at Southwell Racecourse on both surfaces include Chris Catlin and Neil Callan, while Kevin Ryan and Richard Fahey are among trainers who have done well on both types. Of special note, the most successful professional among female jockeys, Hayley Turner, grew up near this course, and she used to work for a local trainer. It was at Southwell that she made her public riding debut in March 2000, mounted upon a horse named Markellis.

Southwell Racecourse is one of 15 racecourses across the U.K. owned and operated by Arena Racing Company (ARC), which was formed in 2012 by the merger of Northern Racing and Arena Leisure plc. As such, it is considered to be a sister course to Wolverhampton in the West Midlands and Lingfield Park in Surry, Britainís only other race venues featuring all-weather tracks.

Racing at Southwell Today

Each year, no fewer than 70 National Hunt and all-weather racedays are scheduled at Southwell Racecourse. They include two Family Fun Days with tickets from £12 and the return of the Summer Music Evenings for four months starting in mid-April, as well as the Newark Advertiser Ladies Day in August with its competition for the Best Dressed Lady, Best Hat and Best Dressed Shoes. There is also the three-day Beer Festival to look forward to in mid-December, making for a very busy year of racing indeed.

The primary facilities at Southwell Racecourse are the Grandstand Enclosure (often called Tattersalls at other racecourses) and the Premier Enclosure, which offers access to all public areas. Both enclosures have TOTE and Ladbrokes betting facilities, while the Boards and rails bookmakers can be found outside in front of the track. Casual wear is acceptable in the Grandstand Enclosure. For Ladies Day, however, smart dress is encouraged, meaning dresses or suits and hats for ladies and a suit and tie for gentlemen.

For food and beverage needs at Southwell, a broad range of options are available. Serving drinks are the Sherwood Bar near the Parade Ring, the Castle Bar in the heart of the Grandstand and the Minister Bar upstairs in the Premier Enclosure. Eateries on the grounds range from the Carvery for hot meat rolls, the Pantry for cottage pie, trifle and homemade soup, and the much praised FishíNíChip Shop to the Seasons Restaurant for full-service wining and dining. Packages are available from £16 to £70 per person.

Published on: 15/08/2013

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