Chester Racecourse

Chester Racecourse has stood on the banks of the River Dee in Cheshire, close to the Welsh border, since 1539 and has the distinction of being the oldest racecourse in the country. Chester stages a total of 15 Flat fixtures between May and September, including the popular three-day May Festival, which was first introduced as long ago as 1766.

 

 

Course Characteristics

Chester is a left-handed, sharp, circular course, just over a mile in circumference and on the turn almost throughout. It has the distinction of being having the smallest circuit in the country and, with a home straight less than two furlongs long, favours handy, nimble types in all but long-distance staying races. In races over 5 furlongs, Chester has one of the most pronounced draw biases, towards low numbers, of any racecourse in the country.

 

Track Facts

Chester racecourse is known as the Roodee – a corruption of Rood Eye, meaning “Island of the Cross” – in memory of a curious event in the tenth century. Having fallen on, and killed, Lady Trawst, the wife of the Governor of Hawarden, a statue of the Virgin Mary was tried and found guilty of murder. The people of Hawarden left the statue on the banks of the Dee to “drown”, but the tide carried it to Chester, where it was found by the inhabitants.

The Ormonde Stakes is named after Ormonde, who was unbeaten in 16 races and won the Triple Crown in 1886.

Sea Pigeon, who won the Chester Cup in 1977 and 1978, also won the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 1980 and 1981.

Shergar won the Chester Vase by 12 lengths in May 1981, just a month before his historic 10-length win in the Derby.

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