Bath Racecourse

Bath Racecourse  Bath Racecourse has stood on Lansdown Hill, overlooking the historic city of Bath, since 1811. Originally, Bath staged just one, two-day meeting annually, but its fixture list has expanded over the years, such that it now stages 19 Flat racing meetings and attracts 80,000 visitors a year. However, prospective racegoers should be aware that Bath racecourse will be operating a “one enclosure” policy for the 2013 season, after the main grandstand was condemned by the local council. Remedial work on the grandstand was hindered by adverse weather early in 2013 and no date has been announced for its completion.

 

Course Characteristics

The round course at Bath is a left-handed, galloping oval, approximately mile and a half around. Sprint races start on a chute that joins the round course at the top of the home straight, which is nearly half a mile long and uphill all the way to the winning post.

 

Track Facts

 

Bath racecourse has the distinction of being the highest Flat racecourse in the country at a height of 780 feet above sea level.

The Somerset Stakes, first run in 1832, was originally a trial for the Derby. A race of the same name, run over 5 furlongs and 161 yards, was resurrected in 2011, as part of the bicentenary celebrations at Bath Racecourse

The only Listed race run at Bath is the Lansdown Fillies’ Stakes, which takes place during the opening fixture of the season in April. The 2010 winner, Gilt Edge Girl, went on to win the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp the following October.

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Bangor Racecourse

Bangor Racecourse  If you head to the city of Bangor in North Wales in search of Bangor Racecourse, you’ll be disappointed to find that the racecourse is, in fact, situated near the village of Bangor-on-Dee, 66 miles to the southeast. Nevertheless, Bangor is a charming rural course on the banks of the River Dee, where it has stood, largely unchanged, since 1859. Bangor has the distinction of being the only racecourse in the country without a grandstand and relies instead on grass banks, which offer excellent viewing.

Course Characteristics

Bangor is a National Hunt only course, consisting of a fairly sharp, left-handed triangle, approximately a mile and a half around. The course is on the turn for most of the way and the paddock bend, immediately after the winning post, is especially tight, so agile, handy types are more at home than relentless gallopers. The nine fences, or six hurdles, per circuit present a thorough examination of jumping ability.

 

Track Facts

Fred Archer, who went on to ride 2,748 winners in his tragically short career, rode Maid Of Trent to win a pony race, over two miles of the steeplechase course at Bangor, as a boy of 10 in 1868.

The late Dick Francis, described by legendary racing broadcaster as “one of the outstanding horsemen of his era”, rode the first of his 345 career winners, Wrenbury Tiger, in a hunter chase at Bangor on May 3, 1947. He rode his second winner, Blitz Boy, in a novices’ chase later the same afternoon.

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Ayr Racecourse

Ayr Racecourse  Ayr Racecourse, on the west coast of Scotland, was moved to its current location, north of Ayr town centre, from nearby Seafield, in 1907. Nowadays, it is the premier racecourse – in fact, the only Grade 1 racecourse – north of the border and is best known for races such as the Ayr Gold Cup, run over 6 furlongs in September, and the Scottish National, run over 4 miles and 110 yards in April.

 

 

Course Characteristics

The round course at Ayr consists of a relatively flat, left-handed oval, approximately a mile and a half around. The straight course, on which the Ayr Gold Cup is run, is wide enough to safely accommodate 27 runners and descends slightly to its junction with the round course, where it ascends for two furlongs before levelling out just before the winning post. The National Hunt course consists of nine, moderately stiff fences, or six hurdles per circuit and, although fairly galloping in character, the faster the ground the sharper it becomes.

 

Track Facts

The Ayr Gold Cup, nowadays the most valuable sprint handicap in Europe, started life in 1804 as a two-mile race, run in two separate heats.

Dazzle (1889, 1890 and 1891) is the only horse to have won the Ayr Gold Cup three times.

Red Rum is the only horse ever to have completed the Grand National/Scottish National double in the same year (1974). The 2013 Grand National winner, Aurora’s Encore, attempted the feat but, after nearly being brought down at the second fence, was eventually pulled up in the Scottish National.

The Scottish National was transferred to Ayr following the closure of the nearby Bogside Racecourse in 1965.

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Ascot Racecourse

Ascot Racecourse  Ascot racecourse is probably best known as the home of Royal Ascot, the five-day festival that takes place in June each year and features nine of the thirty-two Group 1 races held in Britain each year. The racecourse is situated next to Windsor Great Park, less than seven miles from Windsor Castle, and its royal association stretches back to 1711, when it was founded by Queen Anne.

 

Course Characteristics

The round course at Ascot consists of right-handed, triangular circuit, approximately a mile and threequarters around. From the mile and a half start the course runs downhill to Swinley Bottom, the lowest point, but runs uphill from the turn into the relatively short, 2½-furlong straight until well inside the final furlong.

The straight mile course, on which races such as the Royal Hunt Cup and the Wokingham Stakes are run, descends for the first three furlongs, but ascends to its junction with the round course. The draw bias on the straight course varies from meeting to meeting, according to subtle differences in underfoot conditions and the distribution of pace in individual races, so it’s difficult to draw any overall conclusions.

 

Track Facts

National Hunt racing first took place Ascot in 1965 after Hurst Park racecourse, near West Moseley in Surrey, closed in 1962.

In 1975, Ascot witnessed what is often cited as the best Flat race ever run in Britain, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes between Grundy and Bustino. Grundy eventually beat Bustino by half a length after a monumental duel throughout the final furlong.

The oldest surviving race at Royal Ascot is the Gold Cup, first run in 1807. The Queen traditionally presents a trophy to the winning owner but, in 2013, received the trophy from her son, the Duke of York, after her filly Estimate won the Gold Cup.

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