Worcester Racecourse Guide

Based in the heart of the city of Worcester and on the east bank of the River Severn is Worcester Racecourse, also referred to as Pitchcroft by the locals. It is National Hunt racing only which is on the menu here although it was formerly a dual purpose course.

Worcester began holding racing in the summer months from 1995 and it’s something that has remained in place today. Its 20 yearly fixtures are scheduled between May and October so there’s a good chance of viewing the action in some warm weather.

Map

Swap Start/End

The Course

The oval course at Worcester is one that rarely causes a horse too many problems. The portable fences are easy to navigate even for novice chasers, there are no real undulations and the two left-handed bends can’t be described as sharp. With it being fairly trouble-free to negotiate, it’s usually the case that the best horses win and there are rarely any hard luck stories.

The two long straights on the course do favour gallopers who like to stretch their legs and it’s very possible to make up ground between corners. This is less true however when conditions ride quick as the fast pace can mean it’s tough to make up too much distance even for talented galloping types.

Major Races

October’s Richard Davis Memorial Chase, dedicated to the young jockey who sadly died after a fall at Southwell in 1996, is one of the bigger events at Worcester. It’s a Class 3 limited handicap which does attract some promising new chasers. Along with this there is the Valerie Lewis Memorial Chase, Valerie Lewis being the co-owner of Best Mate and Worcester resident. The extended two and a half mile race takes place every June and also has Class 3 status.

Visiting

The three highlight days at Worcester are Gentlemen’s Evening, Ladies Day and Irish Night so you can expect plenty in attendance for these.

  • Dress Code: There is no strict policy regarding dress code at Worcester but racegoers are encouraged to dress to the theme during any feature racedays.
  • Ticket Prices: The Centre Course is the cheapest way of gaining entry to Worcester and tickets here are priced at £9 in advance or £10 on the day. The alternative is admission to the County Enclosure which costs £17 in advance or £19 on the gate. For anyone looking for a few extras with their ticket, the Pukka Pie package is a popular choice. Along with Country Enclosure entry you will receive a racecard, a drink and a Pukka Pie for £23. These prices apply to all race meetings except Ladies Day which comes at a premium. Advance prices are £12 for the Centre Course and £25 for the County Enclosure. Senior Citizens with a valid discount card (costing £3.50) can receive £2 off prices every meeting when paying at the gate. Accompanied children aged 18 or under are allowed to enter the course for free.
  • Membership: If purchased before early January, membership comes with a £20 discount. Any applications after this point will cost £285 and cover the remainder of the calendar year. On top of the fixtures at Worcester, which will come with a hot beverage and muffin, you will have free admission to every other ARC racecourse and a long list of reciprocal fixtures in the UK and Ireland. There are additional ARC benefits included such as complimentary tickets and you’ll also be eligible for half price admission at all County matches at Worcester Country Cricket Club.
  • Getting There: Worcester Foregate Station is the closest train station to the racecourse, based just a 10 minute walk away. Worcester Shrub Hill station is a little further away, around a 20 minute walk but the journey to the racecourse is only 5-10 minutes by taxi.
  • Parking: Free parking is available in the centre of the course and the postcode for this is WR1 3EH.

History

With racing taking place on Pitchcroft Meadow since 1718, this makes Worcester one of the oldest racecourses in the UK. In the early days it was flat racing that took place on the West Midlands course although by 1755 an autumn jumps fixture was introduced in additional to the four annual flat meetings.

Continued racing into the 19th century allowed Worcester to create some relatively big races. Both the Worcester Stakes and the Gold Cup proved to be major events on the racing calendar for the course. It was during this century, in 1880, when a new figure-of-eight track was built although this shape did not last too long and the layout has been changed many times since.

The turf at Pitchcroft had been primarily used for racing for many decades but in 1893, an enclosed part of the racecourse became home to Worcester Rugby Club. Nine years later and Worcester City Football Club would be the next sporting club to play at the venue although their stay only lasted three seasons.

Flat racing, which had been a regular feature at Worcester for centuries, was cut in 1966 as the focus shifted solely to National Hunt events. The next big switch to the racing came in 1995 as winter flooding forced organisers to move racing later in the year. Although there is less risk of the floods in the summer, heavy rainfall in 2007 forced July and August fixtures to be cancelled.

Arena Racing Company have been in charge of the running of the racecourse since 2000 but the City Council remain owners of the land and deal with the maintenance of the turf in the centre course.