Course Thumbnails R-Y

The final part of my racecourse thumbnail sketches, R-Y plus the recently departed.

Redcar

My biggest problem is I am actually allergic to Redcar – I jest not. If the wind is blowing from the west and over the chemical works my eyes begin streaming and I get a sore throat. Last time I went the wind was from the north and I had no problems at the course, yet when I drove downwind of the works the rewactions began.

The trouble with Redcar is it isn’t in a pretty location.

Other than that it’s an Ok course. Most of the racing seems to take part on the straight course but the round course is a tight ellipse so even on the far side the runners are not that far away. 4/10 (would be much more if it was in a better location) 

Ripon

Described as the garden racecourse the grounds are very well maintained but the floral displays at Redcar, Lingfield and the defunct Folkestone would give them a run for their money.

Old brick stands add to the atmosphere of the course and it is always very popular with a decent crowd.

Some of my colleagues say it can be very rowdy but I have to admit it is not something I have particularly encountered myself – maybe I’ve been lucky. 7/10

Salisbury

Another jewel of a course on top of a hill with some stunning views, not least (from the right spot) the famous Cathedral in the distance.

I recall going to Salisbury one day and sitting in members for an elderly man and a companion to sit next to me. The man was none other than former PM Edward Heath and his security guard.

I tell the story as that sort of sums up the members enclosure at Salisbury, very much highbrow and they almost seem to resent the hoi poli joining them.

That aside it is a friendly course, viewing is hit and miss but on a sunny day it’s a good day out. 7/10

Sandown

A reasonably well laid out course with good viewing, although I have to admit I’m no fan of the centre chute sprint track – although it’s not as bad as the one at Longchamp.

Spacious enclosures can seem bleak on quiet days and on busy days there can be some problems with over indulgent racegoers. 7/10 

Sedgefield

Another of the true jumping tracks with a loyal local following.

I have to admit I do find the enclosures and stands somewhat sterile and uninviting and would rate the course as OK rather than special. 4/10

Southwell

I never go to Southwell expecting much and to that extent I’m never disappointed. The place is functional rather than inspiring.

Predominently an all weather course it makes an attempt at NH racing – whether it succeeds is a moot point. 3/10

Stratford

Being reasonably close I attend quite a few meetings at Stratford but I find it hard to gel with the place.

Viewing is good but there is something I cannot quite put my finger on that puts me off the place – perhaps it’s the glass fronted members stand which looks incongruous in the setting?

Midweek meetings are relaxed with true racegoers, weekend meetings are beginning to attract the “wrong sort” of crowd – but the course encourage them by laying on extra booze selling points. Midweek 6/10, weekend 2/10

Taunton

Another of the no frills national hunt tracks catering mainly for a knowledgeable local clientele.

The place is functional without being flash. Viewing is pretty good and the place is welcoming. 6/10

Thirsk

For a “smaller” course the enclosures at Thirsk are surprisingly big and the meetings are well attended  with a strong local following.

My biggest gripe with Thirsk is their rule that gentlemen MUST wear a tie in the Premier enclosure. Now I have no problem wearing a tie and I do so more often than not when I go racing but I do resent being told I must wear one. It almost stinks of pretentiousness on the part of the course. 6/10 (would be 7/10 without the tie rule)

Towcester

This is my local course and I used to adore the old wooden grandstand which offered great covered viewing. Unfortunately the stand was condemned and new stands were built.

OK they look pretty but the new stands were built very much with the corporate racegoers in mind and the regular racegoers was seemingly considered an afterthought. Yes there is some tiered viewing but it is exposed to the elements and on a wet day there is limited shelter and nowhere to watch the racing from the dry.

The course has free admission for most meetings but it doesn’t compensate for the fundamental shortcomings, which is a shame because the Towcester hill can result in some thrilling finishes. 4/10

Uttoxeter

This is another course which really frustrates me. A great jumping course, good facilities and what do they go and do?

They stick a bloody gypsy camp, sorry, caravan site in the centre of the course, seriously obstructing viewing of the racing – totally brainless. Money grabbing at the expense of those who want to watch racing. 6/10

Warwick

Let’s build a racecourse with a hill in the centre of the course. Sounds silly doesn’t it but that describes Warwick racecourse.

Notwithstanding the topological challenge Warwick is an enjoyable course to visit and on the flat course it’s only races over seven furlongs which are hidden from view. 7/10

Wetherby

The course haven’t been helped by the recent A1 re-alignment which resulted in significant changes to the track and damage to the racing surface.

Ignoring that Wetherby is a lovely course to visit. Good racing, good facilities and viewing. 8/10

Wincanton

At the risk of sounding boring, yet another country NH course although i=on a slightly larger scale than some.

Friendly and welcoming, plenty of space and good viewing 7/10

Windsor

One of only two figure of eight courses, unfortunately the far loop is not visible from the stands.

The racing is of variable standard and one is left with the impression the course is more interested in appeasing the Monday night crowd and getting as much money out of them as possible. 6/10  

Wolverhampton

Another of those schizophrenic courses. Purely functional  and certainly not aesthetic it can be the most depressing place at the midweek meetings.

On Saturday nights the place is transformed as the place comes to life and, shock horror, there is a great atmosphere. Midweek 3/10 Saturday night 7/10 

Worcester

Ask many in the industry and Worcester will frequently appear in the bottom three. I wouldn’t go that far but it’s nothing to write home about.

The facilities are cramped and aged and they use those terrible portable obstacles, 4/10

Yarmouth

A course that probably would not survive without the summer holidaymakers which is the lifeblood of the course.

Open and spacious the stands are a bit too far back for my liking and when the wind whips in from the North Sea you need to wrap up.

Being relatively close to Newmarket it can attract some better horses than it probably deserves. 6/10 

York

This may be another of those controversial ones as I’m going to be a heretic and say I don’t like York and think it is highly overrated.

On the plus side it has a great infrastructure with some truly delightful stands.

On the minus side it has a terrible racing surface and’ like Chester, it attracts far too any racegoers who could not give a toss about the racing. Apart from the quieter days and the Sunday funday there is invariably an edge at York and you are left feeling one false step and you could end up in a fight. 2/10

And the recently “lamented” ……

 Folkestone

Despite being close to the motorway network, Folkestone always seemed a long way away from anywhere.

The final access down a narrow lane was always frustrating. Once there the buildings had a neglected, unloved feel about them.

The highlight was the area behind the stands and the amazing pond. Racing was generally moderate 4/10

Great Leighs

I’m no lover of artificial surface racing but it was generally agreed Great Leighs had the best artificial surface in the country and the racing was passable.

It didn’t help the grandstand was in the centre of the course and the course suffered at the hands of crass, gross mis-management.

In the right hands and with some infrastructure changes it has the potential to become a really good course. 4/10

Hereford

Hereford was another of those courses where the stands were too far away from the track, although that didn’t greatly diminish the racing experience.

I quite liked Hereford, the facilities were basic but viewing was OK and it was generally a good day out. It was lost to politics unfortunately. 6/10

  Return to The Beast Home