No other region in the UK is as passionate about horse racing as Yorkshire. The county is synonymous with the sport of kings, with no fewer than nine top class courses – more than any other region in the UK – holding over 170 meetings each year and home to numerous winning stables including Middleham, Malton and Richmond.
Whatever style of racing you prefer, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Yorkshire, with six flat racing courses at York, Beverley, Pontefract, Redcar, Ripon and Thirsk, and dual courses offering monthly racing either on the flat or over jumps at Catterick in the north, Wetherby in the west and Doncaster in the south.
Famous racing festivals staged in Yorkshire include the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor meeting and the St Leger at Doncaster – the oldest classic horse race in the world.
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Racing at Beverley has taken place since 1690 on the beautiful rolling expanse of common land known locally as the Westwood, just a short walk from the market town of Beverley.
Beverley Racecourse combines a stunning location, great grass-roots racing, friendly staff, smart facilities, delicious food and a warm Yorkshire welcome to cement its reputation as one of the most charming and friendly courses in the North of England. The season starts in April and lasts until late September, with a whole range of themed meetings to suit all racegoers, from family days featuring petting zoos and Frozen singalongs, through to glamorous evening meetings. Entry starts from just £5 with under 18s going free.
Beverley is the only Racecourse in the East Riding of Yorkshire, just 10 miles from the east coast city of Hull, and a short 13 mile hop from the M62, so really easy to get to with ample free parking when you do get here. Find out more…
Catterick’s 27 race meetings per year put it second only to Doncaster in the quantity of races hosted, but there’s plenty of quality too. One of just two courses in Yorkshire to offer both flat and National Hunt racing, Catterick Racecourse hosts meetings every month, and gets things underway as early as possible with the very first jumps gathering of the year on New Year’s Day.
You will find Catterick Racecourse (since 1783) in the hamlet of Catterick Bridge close to the Catterick Garrison, the worlds’ largest British Army barracks, and home to around 12000 soldiers. The venue, close to the A1, is also home to Catterick Sunday market, the largest in the north of England.
Doncaster is a truly historic racing destination, boasting not just one, but two, of the world’s oldest races and a heritage of regular race meetings dating back to the 16th century.
The Doncaster Cup is the world’s oldest continuously run race. The horses were first ‘off’ in 1766. Just ten years later the legendary St Leger, named after Colonel Anthony St Leger, got underway, making it now the oldest of the five ‘classics’ (it’s also the longest).
Doncaster racecourse is one of only two in Yorkshire to offer both flat racing and National Hunt jump racing. It hosts races in every month of the year and can lay claim to be Yorkshire’s most prolific track.
Pontefract, home of the rich and iconic liquorice cakes, has offered top notch horse racing for over two centuries. How do we know? Well, in 1802 members’ badges were sold for £50! Today you can enjoy the friendly flavour of this great Yorkshire racecourse for a lot less than that.
Pontefract racecourse prides itself on catering for the racegoer, and is not short on experience. Not only has racing taken place in the town since 1648, but the current course was one of just two northern venues to have staged racing during World War II – proving Pontefract’s ‘show must go on’ passion for horse racing that continues to this day.
Pontefract’s flat race meetings generate great atmosphere in intimate surroundings, and are invariably graced with competitive racing too. The home straight of over 2 furlongs, with the last 4 furlongs of the course uphill, guarantees some grandstand finishes among strong horses.
Redcar is Yorkshire’s only coastal town race course, situated a few miles north of Middlesborough near the mouth of the River Tees! Before today’s course opened up its turf in the 1870s, racing actually took place on the nearby Sands of Coatham. More recently, Redcar, a former fishing community, provided the setting for the beach scenes in the recent Oscar-winning film Atonement.
Redcar’s modern racecourse is set in 72 panoramic acres, and easily accessed by road, rail and air, or even on foot from the town centre.
More commonly known as Yorkshires Garden Racecourse, Ripon has hosted some of the most exciting and prestigious racing for more than 300 years. Impressing with its outstanding back drop, the racecourse is suitably located in one of the country’s most beautiful and quaint cities. With the market town being one of the oldest cities in England it is a great place to visit.
With 16 flat meetings from April to September including stating special events such as Ladies’ Day, Family Day and in mid-August the ‘Great St Wilfrid Stakes’, it certainly is one of Yorkshires hidden gems.
Ripon has hosted some of the most exciting, prestigious and enjoyable racing in the country for more than 300 years. It never fails to impress year on year with its outstanding back drop and exciting atmosphere. Always challenging itself to improve and build on spectator experience, Ripon has a lot to offer.
Ripon Racecourse is known widely for its picturesque surroundings, and was fittingly presented with the Gold Rose Award by Yorkshire in Bloom; the regional body representing the Britain in Bloom campaign. We are one of the few racecourses to boast a giant screen, which is ideally located opposite the main stand adding to the excitement of each race; providing clear footage of all the action. You’ll find all the action is situated close to the A1, 11 miles north of Harrogate.
Thirsk’s fame as the real-life setting for the work of author and vet, James Herriot, provides a backdrop for a visit to one of Yorkshire’s most beautiful racecourses – Thirsk Racecourse. The compact and scenic circuit of this local market town, nestled in the broad vale in the Hambleton area between the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, makes for a perfect day out for visitors to the region looking for a laid back racecourse with an excess of charm.
There’s great history too. Racing in the area began on the nearby Hambleton Hills almost exactly 400 years ago under King James I. More recently (the 1700s!) one of Thirsk’s biggest races, the Thomas Lord Stakes, was named after Thomas Lord a local resident who became the founder of Lord’s Cricket Ground. The current compact and attractive course in Station Road opened in 1855.
Yorkshire’s only exclusively National Hunt Jumps Racecourse, with easy access to Wetherby Town, and only 12 miles from Leeds, Wetherby Racecourse is one of the most convenient and enjoyable places to follow National Hunt racing in Britain.
Wetherby’s season runs from October through to May, with approximately 17 fixtures between. While every raceday at Wetherby provides an exciting day out, the course does offer some highlight meetings which simply must not be missed…
The bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting, is a two-day meeting which takes place in early November. The meeting, which offers a total of £245,000 in prize money, is a significant highlight in the National Hunt Calendar, and offers a quality two-day race programme, including two listed races on the first day and the John Smith’s Hurdle and bet365 Charlie Hall Steeplechase on the second day. The £1000,000 bet365 Charlie Hall Steeplechase is widely acknowledged as one of the most important and influential early-season trials for top-quality chasers as they set out on the long road to the Cheltenham and Grand National Festivals. Previous recent winners of the race include Nacarat, Deep Purple, State of Play, Our Vic and Weird Al.
Another fixture which is a definite diary date is the Christmas Meeting, which takes place on 26th (Boxing Day) and 27th December. This meeting brings people together and offers an exciting day out for family and friends over the festive season. Over 20,000 people now attend over the two-days which generates an atmosphere that you simply have to be part of to fully appreciate. Join the Ritual this Christmas at Wetherby and make the day part of your Yorkshire Christmas.
During the season Wetherby also provide a host of additional themed days, which as well as the racing action, provide a slightly different range of additional attractions and entertainment to suit all. Irish Day is a great day out for the lads, Family Day combines racing with fun-fair rides and a circus, while Ladies’ Evening is a chance for everyone to really dress to impress.
York Racecourse has long been known as the Ascot of the north, and truly lived up to that name in 2005 by brilliantly hosting the Royal Ascot festival, as the iconic southern course underwent redevelopment.
Since then the already world-class Knavesmire flat racing course and facilities at York have gone from strength to strength and, set in one of Britain’s flagship heritage destinations, provide a truly memorable place to spend a day (or more!) racing, whether you attend one of its prestige festivals or a simple family Sunday.
You will find the Knavesmire to the south west of York’s historic city centre, just off the A64 and an easy 20-minute or so walk (or even easier bus ride) from its elegant East Coast mainline railway station, once the largest in Europe. If you are looking for a place in history, you’ll certainly find it here. The Knavesmire has been home to racing in York for 280 years, but this city has hosted horse races since Roman times….2000 years ago!