Hamilton Park Racecourse Guide

Hamilton Park Racecourse
Hamilton Park Racecourse (Richard Webb / geograph.org.uk)

The closest racecourse to the Scotland’s second biggest city, Glasgow, is found just south east of the cultural hub, in Hamilton. While boasting a good quality of racing, Hamilton Racecourse is also known for regularly hosting top class entertainment in front of packed - and very lively - crowds.

The course is very well known around the area but fewer people know that it is something of a record breaking course. Not only was it the first racecourse in Britain to introduce an evening meeting, but it was also the first to hold a meeting that began in the morning. Beat that racecourse anoraks!

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The Course

The right-handed track at Hamilton can provide horses with plenty to deal with and a good degree of mobility is needed. The looping bend at the far end is sharp and there are steep gradients around a pronounced hollow approximately three furlongs from the line. Conditions can be more difficult by the near rail after heavy rain so expect to see jockeys switch across when the going is soft or heavy.

A further test comes from the undulations, which are both abundant and steep. The downhill early on along the home straight is an important one and jockeys don’t have much time to prepare for it during sprint races. Many horses end up riding it too quickly and then struggle on the uphill stretch to the finishing post. Due to the shape of the course at Hamilton, it’s only capable of hosting races up to one mile and five furlongs in distance.

Major Races

As with most of the smaller tracks in the UK, there are no truly top class, major events at Hamilton. That said, the Glasgow Stakes has been the feather in Hamilton Park’s cap ever since it was transferred there in 2006.

The Listed quality race was opened up to fillies in 2011 and rescheduled to mid-July. It’s been able to welcome some very able names over the years, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner, Postponed, who was the Glasgow Stakes champion in 2014.

Visiting

Races at Hamilton Park
Races at Hamilton Park (Anthony Parkes / geograph.org.uk)

There are usually 18 flat meeting at Hamilton Park during the summer, so there are plenty of opportunities to visit.

Useful Info

Dress Code

There is no dress code at Hamilton Park although football related attire is best avoided. There is usually a range of clothing on display but on Ladies’ Night and Saints & Sinners Racenight you’ll find people dress for the occasion and there will be plenty of hats and fascinators on display.

Ticket Prices

Admission to standard racedays costs £16 when tickets are purchased online, while other fixtures cost £22 (prices on the day are £3 more expensive). Star-studded Music Festival nights come at a premium and tickets to such a special event are priced at £30 online or £35 on the gate.

There are no different stands to choose from and no concessionary rates are offered but under 18s are admitted free when they visit with a paying adult. If purchasing online, be aware that a £2 booking fee will be applied to the order.

Membership

Annual membership costs £200 at Hamilton Park and with that you get a Dukes car park pass, exclusive use of the members only bar, subsidised bar prices, free tea and coffee plus a range of reciprocal fixtures.

Getting There

Situated just 15 miles from Glasgow, the course is quite an easy place to drive to. For public transport users, direct trains run from the likes of Glasgow and Motherwell to Hamilton West Station. From there you have a short 15 minute walk to the racecourse.

Parking

Free parking is available on all racedays in the main public car park with overflow parking on busier meetings at Hamilton College and Caird Street. Parking in the Dukes car park is reserved for Annual Members and those directly involved in the racing.

History

Lanark Racecourse No Longer in Use
The Abandoned Lanark Racecourse (Iain Thompson / geograph.org.uk)

Although racing officially began in Hamilton in 1782, it wasn’t held where it is today. Back then it took place at a site called Chatelherault, just outside of the town. It made a promising start there and three years after its first meeting, it began hosting three fixtures a year.

Hamilton Park originally featured jump racing and that was something that continued until 1907 when the course was forced to close. Hamilton spent the next 19 years without racing but in 1926, thanks to £100,000 of raised money, a new course was built at Bothwell Road, where it remains today.

The Former Lanark Racecourse

By racing standard, this makes Hamilton Park quite a new build and it’s the only one in Lanarkshire still remaining, as Lanark Racecourse shut its doors in 1977. Lanark Racecourse was the original home of the Silver Bell race, but the racecourse soon closed its doors, so this famous race has taken place at Hamilton Park since 2008. 

At its new home, the racecourse has been the place of some innovative ideas, such as the aforementioned first ever evening meeting in 1947 and the first morning meeting in 1971.

Non-Racing Events

If those two records weren’t enough, then Hamilton broke another two this side of the 21st century. First, in 2010, they became the first racecourse to sell tickets to a standalone concert event without any racing. More recently, in 2015, they were the first racecourse in Scotland, and the first small independent course in the UK, to provide racegoers with free Wi-Fi.

Hamilton’s biggest claims to fame may be unusual firsts, rather than world class racing. However, this innovative spirit, combined with friendly locals, easy access and reasonable pricing make Hamilton very much worth a visit.