Bath Racecourse Guide

Bath Racecourse & Stands
Bath Racecourse & Stands (Maurice Pullin / geograph.org.uk)

Following a multi-million pound redevelopment which was completed in the summer of 2016, Bath racecourse is now a very modern venue with a refreshing looking track and a brand new Langridge Stand that features a wonderful top floor roof terrace.

The Somerset-based course, which is around three miles north of Bath, features a wide range of flat meetings between April and October as well as other non-racing events throughout the year. It also holds the record for being the highest flat course in Britain, standing at 238m above sea level.

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The Course

The one mile, four furlong narrow oval track at Bath makes viewing the action quite an easy experience. With the finishing post in front of the main stands, you can get a great view of the almost half a mile run-in which is uphill all the way. This can mean that horses who strike for home too early are often caught out.

The left-handed, galloping track hasn’t got a long straight for short distance races and anything over its shortest race of five furlongs and 161 yards will mean that horses have to take on at least one of the tight left-handed bends.

Given the high altitude and lack of watering, the track is prone to becoming very dry and firm if there is any prolonged absence of rain.

Major Races

While Bath is undoubtedly a very charming course to attend and one with plenty of racing action, big races don’t feature here too often. It used to run the Dick Hern Fillies' Stakes but in 2011 it moved to its new home of Haydock Park.

It is still home to two other Listed quality races however, the Landsdown Fillies Stakes and the Beckford Stakes and these, especially the former, have to be considered two of Bath’s biggest races. The Landsdown Fillies is a five furlong sprint for fillies aged three and over and takes place in April. The latter is open to fillies and mares and is run over a distance of one mile and six furlongs.

Visiting

Stands at Bath Racecourse
Stands at Bath Racecourse (Colin Bews / geograph.org.uk)

Bath is certainly a place worth visiting and tying in a trip to a racecourse when you are here ensures you get a full taste of what the city has to offer.

Useful Info

Dress Code

You can’t wear just anything to get into the facilities at Bath. Smart casual is the code in the Grandstand enclosure, sports shirts, ripped jeans, casual shorts and trainers are not permitted. Smart casual is also the rule for the shared hospitality suites but for the private suites and restaurants, smart attire is required.

Ticket Prices

There a wide range of tickets to choose from when visiting the racecourse at Bath. For selected meetings, you can go to the centre course picnic enclosure where tickets begin at £10.

Grandstand tickets are available for all meets and start at £15 but expect to pay a few quid extra for the more popular meets. You can choose to upgrade to the wonderful view of the Langridge Stand with a roof garden ticket which begins at £22 for the less busy meetings.

Booking in advance saves you £2 per ticket but there is a £2 card transaction fee for tickets not bought at the track. For a more lavish day out, there are a wide range of dining and hospitality packages, most of which require advanced booking, that are available from £50 and upwards.

Membership

Being a member at Bath not only gives you access to their 23 annual fixtures but you get the added bonus of 30 reciprocal meets and free entry to the other 16 courses owned by the Arena Racing Company.

If that wasn’t enough, then members also get an exclusive discount in the restaurant and other racing-events and the unique chance to talk a stroll down the track. Membership costs £220 for one person or £365 for a double membership (correct as of 2017).

Getting There

The racecourse is very close to Bath city centre so it’s far from a tricky place to get to. If you find yourself at Bath Spa train station, which has connections to London Paddington, Birmingham and Cardiff, then across the road, at the bottom of Manvers street, a bus service will take you to the course. Tickets for the bus are £4 for a single and £5 for a return, whilst taxis are also available.

Parking

Parking just outside the venue is free of charge for all meetings.

History

If you would like to know more about the history of Bath Racecourse then historian Jim Beavis has written an officially commissioned book on the subject which was released in 2011 and it covers the entire lifetime of the course in great depth. If your interest is of a more passing nature, here are some basics about racing at Bath.

There is evidence of racing in Bath going back as far as 1728 but racing truly began here in 1811 when a local family, the Blathwayts, held the first major meet. To begin with, there was just a solitary two day fixture every year but an ever increasing demand meant that more and more meetings were added to the calendar. One of the earliest races to feature at Bath was the Somerset Stakes and it’s one that is still run today.

The Infamous 1953 Coup

Meetings at Bath were controversy-free for decades until 1953 when an infamous coup was attempted. A criminal gang swapped a slow and unfancied horse before the race with a far stronger runner that looked similar in appearance. After this, the gang then cut all communication to the bookies while staking vast sums of money on the swapped horse, at odds of 10/1. The bookies grew wise to what was going on though and the perpetrators were caught without receiving their huge winnings.

Development

Bath has changed a lot over the years, with the single meet of the early days now increased to a busy schedule of 22 race days in 2016. The stands and course generally have also been developed and expanded. Bath previously had a number of small, old grandstands but has modernised in recent years.

At the end of 2015 Arena Racing Company helped Bath complete multi-million pound refurbishment. The new Kelston Stand offers high class hospitality, whilst the “triple-decker” Langridge Stand opened in July 2016 to complete Bath’s arrival as a modern racing venue.