Uttoxeter Racecourse

Published: 06/08/2013
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Situated just off the A50 between Burton on Trent and Stoke on Trent, the Uttoxeter Racecourse ranks among the West Midlands’ most famous landmarks, located just a short walk from the Uttoxeter town centre in Staffordshire. The left-handed oval-shaped track measures one mile, two and a half furlongs in circumference and is configured especially for jumps, hosting 25 race meetings per year with National Hunt Racing in the winter months and Summer Jumping scheduled in the off-season. Access by rail is especially convenient, as Uttoxeter Railway station is adjacent to the racecourse.

More than a Century of Thrills

When the Keele Park Racecourse closed in the early 20th century, a Racecourse Company was formed to take over its licence and interests and then to build and open a new track in Uttoxeter. The work was completed in 1907, allowing five race meetings to be conducted in the inaugural year. The fixtures were reportedly attended by “the nobility and gentry and sportsmen in the county there being 100 members already subscribed to the Club.”

Although racing was suspended for both World Wars, the biggest threat of the century to racing at Uttoxeter came from a lease dispute with a local farmer who owned part of the land upon which the racecourse had been constructed. The Uttoxeter Urban Council came to the rescue and bought the disputed acreage with the support of the local community. The racecourse re-opened in 1952, followed by a much needed £167,000 facelift in 1966.

In 1969, a handicap steeplechase called the Midlands Grand National was inaugurated at Uttoxeter, initially covering a distance of four miles and two furlongs. Conducted in March, this Listed National Hunt race almost immediately gained notoriety as one of the region’s premier events. It has since seen talented jumpers like 1976 winner Rag Trade and 1997 runner-up Lord Gyllene go on to claim the Grand National at Aintree.

Jockeys have also figured significantly in course history. In 1967, jockey Josh Gifford tied and then surpassed Fred Winters record of 121 winners in a season by riding to two victories at Uttoxeter in the very last meeting of the 1966-67 National Hunt season. In 1982, jockey John Francome gained his 800th overall victory aboard John Edward’s Buckmaster en route to a share of the jump jockeys title. And in 2002, Tony McCoy became the winning-most National Hunt rider of all time by marking his 1,700th victory here on Mighty Montefalco.

Meanwhile, ownership of Uttoxeter Racecourse changed hands several times. It was first acquired from East Staffordshire district council by Sir Stanley Clarke CBE in 1988, and then managed as part of his Northern Racing holding company until its merger in 2012 with Arena Leisure (now Arena Racing Company). In the interim, two new grandstands were built and a new paddock developed.

Racing at Uttoxeter Today

With year-round racing spread evenly from January through to December, the racecourse at Uttoxeter attracts many top-class performers. In addition to the standout Midlands Grand National Chase Handicap in March, the Britannia English Summer National is held here as part of the John Smiths Summer Cup fixture in June. Among themed race days are Family Fun Days throughout the summer, Ladies Night in June, James Bond Raceday in October and Marston’s Beer Festival in November.

The stands at Uttoxeter are very close to the track, which adds to the course’s festive atmosphere. Weekday race packages start at £27 for Grandstand & Paddock admission plus a raceday programme, £2 tote bet, welcome drink and burger meal. The Classic Raceday Package on weekends provides Premier Enclosure admission and an exclusive behind the scenes tour along with afternoon tea, a drink, programme and £5 tote bet.

Restaurants on the premises include Silks Restaurant at the Platinum Suite for four-course dining, Hoops Bistro and Café Quick for lighter fare, and The Railway serving traditional carvery meals. Those who fancy a drink will find all needs served by the Champagne Bar and Premier Bar within the Premier Enclosure and John Smith’s Bar situated in the Grandstand & Paddock Betting Hall. Hot and cold snacks are also available at the Gourmet Grill, Stone Baked Pizza, Spinning Pig, Pitta Pocket, Coffee Hut, Panini’s and a classic Fish & Chip Shop.

Published on: 06/08/2013

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