Towcester Racecourse

Published: 06/08/2013
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Located in Northamptonshire, just south of Towcester on the A5 between Northampton and Milton Keynes, Towcester Racecourse is a jumping course built on private land that is used exclusively for National Hunt racing. The square, right-handed track is considered to be one of the most demanding in the country, with sharp bends and a final uphill gallop to the finishing post. Open only for the jumps season, its race meetings are scheduled from October to May, with free admittance year round, except for the Boxing Day, Easter Sunday and Closing Day fixtures.

A Project of the Peerage

Towcester Racecourse owes is existence and good fortune to European royalty and the generosity of the Barons Hesketh. Fine stables were already in place at the private parklands of the Easton Neston estate when they hosted the horses of the Empress of Austria during a visit to England in 1876. Indeed, Her Imperial Majesty Elizabeth had been a keen rider and passionate about hunting, so a steeplechase was held on the Easton Neston grounds in her honour. She reciprocated by establishing a race meeting of her own to be held on Easter Monday 1876, and thereafter the fixture became an annual event.

In 1928, the then 8th Baronet of Rufford, Sir Thomas Fermor-Hesketh, established the Towcester Racecourse Company and lent a portion of his estate for creating the current course and erecting a grandstand. Racing soon became a regular winter feature of life at Easton Neston, with the local populace happy to have access to such a grand and picturesque facility. When the Barony was created in 1935, Lord Hesketh continued to support jumps events on the property, as did his heir, Sir Frederick Fermor-Hesketh, the 2nd Baron Hesketh (1916–1955).

In 2005, Sir Thomas Alexander Fermor-Hesketh, 3rd Baron Hesketh (born in 1950), sold Easton Neston’s main house, some outlying buildings and 550 acres of land to retail businessman and designer Leon Max for around £15 million. However, Lord Hesketh retained ownership of the racecourse and invested over £7.5million into its facilities, creating a beautiful new Conference Centre and erecting the award winning Empress Stand.

By 2006, attendance at the races had grown by some 275%. Arrangements were made to cover all of the Towcester races on SKY (At The Races) & SIS, which is broadcast live into every betting shop in the U.K., with an estimated viewing audience of over 750,000 people per day. Sponsorship packages starting at £750 were offered, too, and by 2008, Lord Hesketh put the course up for sale as a profitable and going concern.

Racing at Towcester Today

Although Towcester Racecourse is still on the market, that has made no difference in the schedule of events. The next season kicks off on 9 October 2013 and will run through 23 May 2014, with 17 fixtures in total, including premier race meetings in December, April and May. Events will continue to feature such celebrities as the course’s top jockey A.P. McCoy and the jumpers of trainers Jonjo O’Neill and Nigel Twiston Davies, both of whom have had good form here over the last few seasons.

Hospitality packages are available from £69.50 per person, which allow viewing of the races from a suite in the Empress Stand, a four-course meal, afternoon tea, a race day programme and access to a private Ladbrokes betting facility. The Empress and Grace Stands are both fully equipped with private balconies, offering glass-fronted viewing of the course overlooking the home straight. There are also 37-inch plasma TV screens for additional viewing of the racing.

The dress code at Towcester Racecourse is smart casual if dining in one of the restaurants. The general public are asked to dress appropriately, and gentlemen are required to wear a shirt or top at all times even in hot weather. Admission to the course continues to be free, except for selected meetings, and children under 16 years are always free of charge.

Published on: 06/08/2013

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