Wetherby Racecourse

Published: 28/08/2013

Located near the market town of Wetherby, midway between Leeds and York, Wetherby Racecourse occupies 300 acres of park and farmland, and it has the distinction of being the only course in North Yorkshire thatís exclusively dedicated to hosting National Hunt meetings. Its season runs from mid-October to early June, featuring around 18 fixtures per year on a fairly flat, oval-shaped course. Among its most anticipated events are the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Steeplechase and Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle Race, both in November, along with the Grade 2 Castleford Chase conducted during the annual Christmas Meeting.

Contributing to Steeplechase History

If the late racing historian J. Fairfax-Blakeborough was correct, the first organised race meeting in the British Isles took place on the north banks of the River Wharfe in the year 206. It purportedly involved Arab horses and chariot races by Romans serving under Emperor Severus, who was then based at Eboracum (York) and allegedly brought racing to the village of Netherby, which is due west of Wetherby along the river.

More recent evidence indicates that there was certainly racing to the southeast at nearby Clifford Moor during Easter week of 1683. Although records are scant, it is also certain that a track was laid down to the northeast at Linton in 1842, with regular meetings scheduled there until the final fixture was held in 1890. Thereafter, a course was established on the present site on York Road, and the first meeting took place on Easter Monday in 1891.

In the 122 years since then, Wetherby Racecourse has expanded its facilities and evolved to lead the field in National Hunt racing. In the 1930s the first terraces were erected, and the course was served by Wetherby Racecourse railway station until 1963. A new two-tier stand was erected in the 1970s , followed by the opening of the new Millennium Stand in 1999, complete with executive banqueting and conference facilities.

Wetherby Racecourse is home to some of the most competitive races staged throughout the National Hunt jumps racing calendar, Most prominent among them is the bet365-sponsored £100,000 Charlie Hall Steeplechase, which is widely acknowledged as one of the most important and influential early-season trials for top-quality chasers as they embark upon the grueling road to the Cheltenham and Grand National Festivals. Previous recent winners of this race include Ollie Magern, State of Play, Deep Purple, Nacarat and Weird Al.

Racing at Wetherby Today

Highlighted jump racing fixtures at Wetherby Racecourse include the totepool Irish Day in February, Community Raceday and Family Day in April, and the Yorkshire Post Ladiesí Evening in May. Spinal Research Day in October marks the official start of the National Hunt season here, leading to the two-day Charlie Hall Chase Meeting in November, Christmas Carol Saturday in December and the two-day Welcome to Yorkshire Christmas Meeting, which starts on Boxing Day and is attended by over 20,000 racegoers.

Wetherby Racecourse features a choice of enclosures, each offering something different. For example, badges for the Premier Enclosure are priced from £21 to £29, providing panoramic views from covered seating in the Millennium Stand, directly opposite the winning post. Premier Enclosure badge holders have access to the Marston Moor Bar, the White Rose Restaurant and the White Horse Mezzanine Bar overlooking the Parade Ring and Winnersí Enclosure. The Paddock and Course Enclosures offer facilities for the disabled, tote and bookmakers, race programme sales and refreshments. For every Wetherby fixture, a large screen that can be viewed from all enclosures is on-site, too.

Published on: 28/08/2013

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