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The first question is what type of race meeting do you want to go to? A horse race meeting is too simple an answer.

One of the great things about racing in Britain is its diversity. There are 60 differing courses, some undulating, others flat as a pancake. At some the horses run clockwise, others anti-clockwise and if that isn’t confusing enough, two courses have a figure-of-eight layout and whilst another has most races run in a straight line. All that is before you decide if you want to watch flat racing or jump racing, it’s small wonder it can be so confusing!

With the exception of a couple of mixed meetings in the spring, a race meeting will be one of two types, or codes - either on the flat or over jumps, also known as National Hunt racing. Whilst some racegoers like both codes equally, there are others who think the code they don’t follow is the spawn of the devil. At the end of the day it’s a matter of personal choice.

Each code has pros and cons

Flat

Pro’s … the horses taking part at the top level are the crème de la crème. Prize money is a lot higher. The jockeys are more high profile. There are fewer injuries to horses and riders. Races tend to have closer finishes. The best racing is in the summer so, theoretically, in better weather.

Con’s … races can be over too quickly, the shortest races can take less than a minute. Some consider flat racing to be more elitist, although this may not be as bad nowadays as it used to be. At the lower grades the quality of racing can be dire.  

Jump

Pro’s … considered by many to more exciting, it’s certainly more dangerous. The shortest race is over two miles so you get plenty of racing for your money. There tends to be a more relaxed, welcoming, atmosphere at the racecourses. Some of the courses can have a rustic feel.

Con’s … there is a greater chance of a horse or jockey being hurt during a race. Racing is mainly in the winter so it can be cold and wet. There is more chance of a meeting being called off. Some of the courses can have a rustic feel.

The more alert amongst you will have noted that I have included “Some of the courses can have a rustic feel.” in both the pro’s and con’s section. I’m not cracking up, it’s a deliberate decision. The plus points of the rustic tracks are their intimacy and the chance to get close to the horses and the action, you really can feel part of the proceedings. The downside is that facilities can sometimes be basic and shelter limited, so if the heavens do open you are quite likely to get very wet. More information for individual racecourses can be found in the course guide - click here to access.  (This section of the website also indicates which racecourses are the best to consider for a first timer.)

So decide what type of racing you want to go and see then go to the courses section of this site to choose a venue convenient for you

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