If you’re even remotely interested in horse racing, a day at the races is hard to beat in terms of colour, drama and excitement. However, if you’ve never been racing before, you may be at a loss as to when and where to go, how to get there, what you’ll do while you’re there and so on. With this in mind, we’ve put together this brief guide to help you plan your day out.

 

When to go Racing

 

In Britain, horse racing takes place on every day of the year except Good Friday, December 23, 24 and 25, including Sundays, so when to go racing is largely a question of personal preference. If you want to attend one of the major meetings, such as the Cheltenham Festival or Royal Ascot, you’ll find that they take place at more or less the same time each year, but otherwise your choice is limited only by the spare time you have available and the type of racing you want to watch.

 

Traditionally, the Flat racing season runs from April to October and the National Hunt season from October to April, but Flat racing takes place on the all-weather courses, at Lingfield, Kempton, Wolverhampton and Southwell, throughout the winter and National Hunt racing takes place at selected course throughout the summer. It’s also worth remembering that in spring and summer the extra hours of daylight allow evening race meetings to be staged under both codes.

 

Where to go Racing

 

There are total of 57 racecourses throughout the length and breadth of mainland Britain so, wherever you live, you should be able to find at least one that’s within an hour or two by road or rail. Nowadays, most racecourses operate their own website, so if you have one close to home it should be easy to find a convenient date on which to visit.

 

If, on the other hand, you don’t know where your nearest racecourse is and/or if it offers what you’re looking for, you’ll find that websites such as those operated by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Love The Races provide useful tools, guides and plenty of other information to help your find the perfect day out. Nowadays, many racecourses host special events, such as live music concerts after racing, above and beyond the racing itself.

 

How to Choose an Enclosure

 

Once you’ve chosen when to go and where to go, you also need to choose which enclosure on the racecourse suits you best. Some racecourses offer just a single enclosure, in which case you have Hobson’s choice, but others offer two, three or more, so you need to make a more considered decision.

 

Your choice of enclosure dictates not only how much you’ll pay for admission, but how much access you have to racecourse facililities, how well you can see the horses before, during and after each race and, in some cases, what you’re permitted to wear.

 

If you choose the ‘Members’ enclosure, also known as the ‘Club’ or ‘Premier’ enclosure, you’re effectively granted, for a day, the same rights as annual members of the racecourse. You obviously pay for the privilege, but you have access to all areas of the racecourse, including the prime vantage points, the parade ring and the winners’ enclosure. You do need to bear in mind, however, that some racecourses, such as Ascot, require gentlemen to wear a jacket and tie and ladies to dress for a smart occasion in the Members enclosure.

 

Author’s Note: Personally, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting racecourses throughout Britain and I enjoy the extra ‘elbow room’ afforded by the Members enclosure, where you at least have a chance of a few minutes’ quiet contemplation away from the hustle and bustle of the betting ring.

 

The ‘Tattersalls’ enclosure, also known as the ‘Grandstand & Paddock’ enclosure, is home to the main betting ring on the racecourse and, by definition, often the busiest. The viewing typically isn’t quite as choice as in the Members’ Enclosure – you can’t watch the races from directly opposite the winning post, so you’re be none the wiser if there’s a close finish – but it’s still perfectly adequate and you have access to everything you need for a thoroughly enjoyable day. Racecourses typically encourage racegoers to dress smartly in the Tattersalls enclosure, but there’s often no formal dress code and denim and training shoes may be allowed.

 

The ‘Silver Ring’ is the cheapest and most informal enclosure. It’s usually situated some distance from the winning post, so you can’t see the business end of races, the parade ring or the winners’ enclosure. Nevertheless, if you’re on a budget, you still have access to limited selection of bookmakers, a Tote facility and places to eat and drink. Along the same lines as the Silver Ring, some racecourses offer a ‘Course’ or ‘Picnic’ enclosure, usually in the centre of the course, where admission is charged per car as well as, or instead of, per person. The idea is that you can dress as casually as you like, park your car and enjoy your own picnic.

 

How to Pay Admission

 

You can pay your racecourse admission at the turnstiles on the day, but most racecourses off substantial discounts, typically up to 20%, if you book your badge(s) in advance, online or by telephone, particularly if you’re booking for group. Bear in mind, too, that some major meetings are hugely popular, so booking in advance may be your only option if you want to avoid disappointment.

 

Tips from an Experienced Racegoer

 

If you’ve never been racing before, you’ll be amazed by the length of time you spend on your feet during the day. Even if you need to comply with a dress code, your shoes only need to be clean and presentable, so make sure they’re comfortable.

 

If you’re likely to go racing regularly, think about investing in a pair of high-quality 10 x 50 binoculars. You’ll surprised by how much more involved you’ll feel if you can see the horses on the far side of the course. If you do take binoculars, remove the case and leave it, out of sight, in your car, if possible; you won’t need it during the day and it’s one less thing to lug around the racecourse.

 

Take enough cash to cover your expenses, including betting and refreshments. Some, but not all, racecourses provide an ATM, but if budget for your day before you leave home you’ll avoid charges, queues and the temptation to chase your losses.

 

The other essential items you need are a pen, to make notes on your racecard, a copy of the Racing Post and, if you’re in any doubt about the vagaries of the British weather, a small, folding umbrella.

 

Try to arrange at your chosen racecourse at least an hour before the first race, particularly if you’re visiting the course for the first time. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the layout of the racecourse in terms of facilities and perhaps enjoy a drink before the bars become busy, which they inevitably do.

 

The first thing you should do on arrival is to buy a racecard, usually available from a kiosk just inside the main entrance, which lists the colours, runners and riders for all the races on the day. Trust me, you’ll be glad of an at-a-glance guide to the races more than once during the day.

Introduction

 

Some horses are known for their success on the track, some are known for being incredible studs as time goes on. One horse that stands out from the pack, though, is the impressive and diverse Seabiscuit. Having been a hose during the time of the Great Depression, the fact it was a perennial underdog but always managed to find a solution and a win made it a fantastic parallel for the hard times of the era.

 

Career Summary

 

Given that the US was full of rampant poverty at the time, seeing an unfancied horse with no real right to win trophies getting to win some of the biggest races in the then-history of the sport was truly special. It became a fantastic example of how, despite the challenges of the era, it was still possible to find success if people defied the odds and looked ahead of themselves.

 

Major wins over the year made sure that as time moved on, the legend of Seabiscuit remained. The horse was the subject of various media about its life in the form of movies and books, creating an interesting backstory for the horse that helped to further prove the underdog credentials of the creature.

 

Indeed, it was even given a postage stamp named after it. It took many years to be recognized, but it’s part of the incredible history and importance to the era that Seabiscuit has been immortalized in such a manner.

 

While long gone now, the horse lives on in the media and the tales of overcoming hardship to win major trophies time and time again.

 

Achievements & Highlights

 

 

Wins – Massachusetts Handicap (1937), Brooklyn Handicap (1937), Bay Meadows Breeders’ Cup Handicap (1937, 1938), Havre de Grace Handicap (1938), Match race vs Ligaroti (1938), Pimlico Special vs War Admiral (1938), Hollywood Gold Cup (1938), San Antonio Handicap (1940), Santa Anita Handicap (1940)

 

Associations – Charles Howard, Sunny Fitzsimmons, Tom Smith, Gladys Phipps.

 

Earnings – $400,000+

 

 

 

The Great Yarmouth racecourse is a flat thoroughbred racetrack located towards the north of Great Yarmouth. It is not very far from the beach, taking only a few minutes’ walk to get there. It is a very important racing venue since it features a straight line mile. This makes it more unique as not many racecourses in the country feature this kind of
race. The racecourse is owned by Arena Racing Company. It is known to host a total of 23 race meetings annually.

The first race to be held at Great Yarmouth first took place in the year 1715. Prior to the race meetings, an array of events used to take place in the racecourse. This included donkey races and chasing pigs with a soaped tail. It was until 1810 when the racecourse started holding thoroughbred races, and by the end of 1866, the number of races held in the track had increased significantly in number. During the World War 1, races were suspended indefinitely but resumed after a couple of years. In the year 1920, the racecourse changed its location to North Denes. This was due to the constant pressure they received from the fishing industry, who sought to expand their territories deep into South Denes.

John Musker Fillies’ Stakes is the most popular race run in the racecourse. It usually takes place in September, and is run over a mile and a quarter. This year, the Great Yarmouth is set to hold a total of 23 fixtures, starting from April all through to October. The car boot sale is scheduled for every Sunday from the 1st of April to the end of October. Gates will be opening at 7 am while races start at 12 noon. On Saturday the 5th of May will be the Murder Mystery
Evening, hosted by lord and lady Beauregarde. This will be a ladies dinner out.

Introduction

 

If a name was ever a fair reflection of the ability of a horse, then Dancing Brave might just be the poster horse of its generation. Foaled on 11th May 1983, this US-bred horse was owned by Khalid Abdullah and trained by Guy Harwood. Known for its jockeys wearing a combination of lime green and pink, Dancing Brave became one of the most outstanding horses on the British circuit despite being US-bred.

 

Indeed, it conquered major trophies such as the 2000 Guineas, the QE Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. With just two defeats in its life, it eventually retired to stud before living its last years out in Japan, where it died in 1999.

 

Career Summary

 

Across an awesome career, the horse won everything in a single year. From the Craven Stakes to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, it won all six of its major races in 1986. For a horse, it’s one of the most successful race years of all-time, cleaning up across the circuit and winning many of the most important races of the era.

 

At one stage it was given a race rating of 141, the highest rating that was ever given to a horse at that time. Despite being ‘demoted’ to a mere 138, second to the world-famous Frankel, it was still one of the highest race ratings ever achieved. Pat Eddery, one of its jockeys, claimed that it was a “once in a lifetime” experience, and Khalid Abdulla reckons that Dancing Brave was the finest of his horses.

 

Even those who fell at the side to watch Dancing Brave claim yet more success have only good words to say about one of the most stellar animals of its era.

 

Achievements & Highlights

 

Wins – Craven Stakes (1986), 2000 Guineas (1986), Eclipse Stakes (1986), K. George VI & Q. Elizabeth Stakes (1986), Select Stakes (1986), Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (1986)

 

Associations – Khalud Abdullah, Guy Harwood.

 

Earnings – ?