Warwick Racecourse Guide

Warwick Racecourse is very much centrally located in the historic Midlands town, almost a stone’s throw away from the medieval Warwick Castle. The racecourse is rich in tradition and is thought to be one of the oldest in the country.

Originally Warwick had been a dual purpose venue hosting 25 meetings a year but since making the switch to being a jump only course, annual meetings have been reduced to 17.

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The Course

The tight bends at Warwick help make it a sharp course, particular during hurdles races. It is this feature that makes it a place where front runners tend to do well as it can be tricky to find a handy place to overtake. It’s largely flat and is a left-handed track that can offer a slight draw bias to the outside when the ground is soft.

It’s the layout of the fences that Warwick is perhaps best known for. While the pace of the races may suit ex-flat runners, those who have recently made the switch to steeplechasing can often struggle over the jumps down the back straight. Here, five fences are cramped together and it takes a good ride to travel over all of them smoothly.

Major Races

The Grade 3 Classic Chase, scheduled to take place in January, can be a real gruelling affair. It is run over a distance of three miles and five furlongs and includes 22 fences to be jumped. It can serve as a useful practice run ahead of the Grand National and in 2017, One For Arthur, successfully won both events.

Aside from this there are two Grade 2 events that Warwick hosts that attract a good calibre of horse. First up is January’s Leamington Novices’ Hurdle, a two mile five furlong race which was won by The New One in 2013. A month later and it’s time for the two mile Kingmaker Novices’ Chase which gets its name from the 16th Earl of Warwick, known as the Kingmaker during the Wars of the Roses.

Visiting

Racing at Warwick keeps largely in line with the main National Hunt season, with racing beginning in September and ending in May.

  • Dress Code: There isn’t a strict policy surrounding dress code in force but dressing smart casual and for the weather is suggested.
  • Ticket Prices: To get into Warwick you should expect to pay £12.50 for a main enclosure ticket when bought in advance or £15 on the day. This is the only option for admission and if you are looking for a more exclusive experience then you’ll need to opt for a restaurant or hospitality package. On the more high profile meetings, online tickets are still £12.50 providing they are purchased at least five days in advance but they are £20 on the day. Both the over 65s and juniors aged 18-25 can receive £5 off main enclosure admission when tickets are purchased at the gate. Children 17 and under receive free entry providing they are accompanied by a full-paying adult.
  • Membership: Standard 12 month membership begins in September and costs £170. With it you will receive complimentary tea and coffee at meets, over 50 reciprocal race meetings, free days at Cirencester Polo Club, half price guests on Wednesday and Thursday fixtures and have access to the exclusive members’ facility. Premium Membership, costing £325, includes all this but you also receive access to the owners & trainers facility, enjoy light catering every meeting and have a spot in the premium car park. Anyone aged 18-24 should consider the South West Junior membership for £115 that provides entry to all fixtures at Cheltenham (excludes the Festival), Exeter, Warwick and Wincanton.
  • Getting There: There are two train stations in Warwick, but it’s best to get off at the central Warwick station rather than Warwick Parkway. From the station you are just a 20 minute walk from the course. There are several regular Stagecoach bus services that will drop you off in middle of Warwick from the likes of Coventry, Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa.
  • Parking: The raceday car parks are free to use for cars and coaches.

History

In September 1694 the Great Fire of Warwick swept through the town and afterwards it was in desperate need of rebuilding. In the hope of raising some money to make this possible, horse racing was introduced very shortly afterwards. With there being enough interest in racing, Warwick witnessed the birth of its racecourse in 1707.

Over a hundred years later and with interest sustained in the racing venue, subscriptions were sold and the money raised was enough for the construction of Warwick’s first grandstand. During these years it had largely been flat racing on show but in 1845, steeplechasing was introduced. Word has it that two years later, Chandler, future Grand National winner, cleared a fence and four fallen horses in a 39 foot leap. Evel Knievel eat your heart out!

In the 1870s a betting scandal rocked the racecourse. A letter written to The Sportsman putting it down to the ‘sharpers and roughs swarming the course’, a big change from the country gentry that used to be in attendance. Local MP at the time, Arthur Peel, felt compelled to speak about the issue in the County Hall such was its seriousness.

The scandal did not postpone the action but the two world wars did. Immediately after World War Two, the course was bought by the Warwick Corporation. Power shifted hands again in 1967, this time to the Racecourse Holdings Trust (now The Jockey Club). The very same year, the legendary Red Rum made an appearance at the course as a two year old, winning a seven furlong flat race. Little did we know what the future had in store for him.

Warwick continues to thrive and minor modernisation and refurbishment has been ongoing over the years. As with many racecourses, it faces challenges but we feel it has enough about it to prosper.