Great Yarmouth Racecourse Guide

Great Yarmouth Racecourse
Great Yarmouth Racecourse (Ravel59 / Wikipedia.org)

It’s not often you find a racecourse located just a matter of minutes away from a sandy beach but that’s the case at Great Yarmouth. The racecourse sits a stone’s throw away from the east coast and proves to be a popular venue in the warmer months.

There are typically 24 racedays at Great Yarmouth crammed in between April and October so combining a seaside trip with a spot racing action is easily done. The relaxed atmosphere and children’s playground means that it’s a suitable place for the whole family too. So, if the sun is shining, why not head to this unique course?

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The Course

The narrow, oval track at Great Yarmouth is approximately 13 furlongs long. The two left-handed bends at either end are rather sharp but they are separated by two very long and largely even straights. Only a slight fall before the long-run in stops it being perfectly flat. It’s a track suited to gallopers and one that must be considered a very fair and relatively straightforward challenge.

Yarmouth is well known for its one mile straight track which pokes out from the otherwise oval course. In 2015, the straight underwent extensive work and is now far more level than before. With the undulations removed and the track re-surfaced, Yarmouth now boasts one of the best straight mile tracks around.

Major Races

The highlight of Great Yarmouth’s summer is undoubtedly the John Musker Fillies Stakes. The Listed race is open to fillies and mares and sees them compete over a distance of one mile and two furlongs. Whilst not a major race in the grand scheme of things, it’s comfortably the most lucrative contest Yarmouth hosts and is the showpiece of the popular three day Eastern Festival.

Visiting

The Grandstand at Great Yarmouth
The Grandstand at Great Yarmouth (Paul Shreeve / geograph.org.uk)

While there are lots of racedays held at Yarmouth during the flat season, be aware that there is just usually one on the weekend.

Useful Info

Dress Code

Racegoers in the Premier Enclosure are encouraged to come in smart casual attire but the likes of jackets and collared shirts are not obligatory.

More casual wear is acceptable providing it doesn’t include ripped jeans, sportswear, jogging bottoms, beachwear or fancy dress. In the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure there is no dress code enforced.

Ticket Prices

Prices at Yarmouth depend on what day you plan to go, there are standard dates, feature dates and special dates. Online tickets purchased in advance for each of these dates cost £12, £14 and £16 respectively in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure and £19, £21 and £23 in the Premier Enclosure.

When buying tickets on the day or less than seven working days before the fixture, each ticket will be £4 more expensive. No concessionary rates are available but children under 18 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Membership

The price of an Annual Badge at Yarmouth depends on which car park you want access to. Annual Badges with main car park access costs £280 and £330 with centre car park access. As Great Yarmouth is an Arena Racing Company (ARC) course, being a badge holder gives you access to all other ARC courses and gift vouchers to spend at them.

Your badge is transferrable if you are not able to attend and you will also be able to hand out four complimentary tickets to friends and family. On top of this there are over 40 reciprocal fixtures, complimentary racecards at every meet and the chance to go on a tour of the course.

Getting There

There are two straightforward options of getting to Yarmouth racecourse. The first is to drive there and the second is to take one of the train services that depart from Norwich.

From Great Yarmouth Station, it’s a 25-minute walk to the racecourse or you can take the number 6 bus from Vauxhall Bridge to Jellicoe Road.

Parking

Parking is available for all meets and is free of charge making this a very popular option.

History

Arena Racing Company (ARC) Logo
Arena Racing Company (ARC) Logo (arenaracingcompany.co.uk)

The first ever recorded race took place at Yarmouth way back in 1715. While racing may have taken place even earlier, it wasn’t until 1810 when it first appeared on the official racing calendar. In these days, the course was based in the South Denes and hosted just one two-day meeting each year in the summer.

Only in 1866 did the amount of fixtures increase and it was in 1920 when the course was relocated to the North Denes after land disputes with the local fishing industry. Two of the dismantled grandstands were moved northwards to the new location and the foundations are still in use today.

Ownership

For the vast majority of the 20th century, the local authority was in control of the racecourse. This allowed the racecourse to keep prices down as any profits wold be pumped back into the facilities. In 2001, they became only a minor shareholder though, with Northern Racing, who would later merge to form ARC, owning the largest share. Their investment led to the building of the quite recently constructed Lord Nelson Grandstand and some minor modernisation work.

Further Reading

If you are keen to find out more about the past of this racecourse, then you may be interested in the well-detailed account written by David Tubby: A History of Great Yarmouth Racecourse. Alternatively, if you fancy a trip to the seaside and a convivial day of racing, why not see for yourself?