Hereford Racecourse Guide

Hereford Racecourse
Hereford Racecourse (Ruth Harris / geograph.org.uk)

National Hunt racing stopped at Hereford Racecourse in December 2012 after the Arena Racing Company failed to secure a new lease from the Herefordshire council. After an almost four year break, however, National Hunt racing resumed in October 2016.

With jump racing now back on the menu, Hereford treats spectators to 11 fixtures between October and March. You can sometimes also see point to point racing in the interim period for a slightly different racing experience.

Jump to: Course | Races | Useful Info | History

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The Course

Being almost square in shape makes the corners at Hereford fairly easy to handle with the only exception being the bend into the home straight which is on falling ground. With it being downhill to the line, it’s important not to be too far from the winner as closing ground in the final stages is a very difficult task.

The fences and hurdles offer a fair test although the final obstacle for each can sometimes pose an issue. Mistakes are often made over the final fence and the widening track after the last hurdle sometimes makes horses stray to one side rather than stay straight.

Major Races

Hereford doesn’t boast any top drawer races amongst its fixtures although that hasn’t stopped it from welcoming some talented youngsters who have gone on to big things. The likes of Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Festival winners Star De Mohaison and Mighty Man, plus Hennessy Gold Cup winner State of Play, all won novice hurdle races early on in their careers at Hereford.

Visiting

The Track at Hereford
The Track at Hereford (Pauline E / geograph.org.uk)

Hereford is far from the most spacious of racecourses but many agree that the more compact nature of the venue helps contribute to a wonderful atmosphere.

Useful Info

Dress Code

The dress code is smart casual at Hereford. Smart jeans and tailored shorts are accepted but the likes of ripped denim, sport shirts and trainers are not. In the private boxes and the Rusty Bridge Restaurant, a smart level of dress is preferred with collars and ties advised for the gents.

Ticket Prices

General admission at Hereford costs between £16 and £20 when purchased in advance. Tickets purchased on the day are £2 more expensive than the prices featured online. This does not apply to senior citizens, however, who can enjoy £2 off tickets bought on the gate. If you would like a three course meal along with your admission then a spot in the Rusty Bridge Restaurant will usually set you back £78.

Membership

If you want no thrills access to Hereford’s 11 annual fixtures then a season pass, costing £160, is what you are after. For access to all of the meetings with extra perks, such as reciprocal fixtures, entry to all ARC racecourses, complimentary racecards, food and drink vouchers and a stable visit to a top local trainer, then you want annual membership. A year’s membership costs £285 and can be purchased online or over the phone.

Getting There

Given Hereford’s fairly small population, you shouldn’t find too much traffic on your way to the racecourse if driving there. If you want to avoid the roads completely though, regular train services are available. Direct trains run to and from the likes of Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester and the station is situated around a mile and a half from the racecourse.

Parking

Stewards will guide you to one of the two car parks by the racecourse as you approach, both of which are always free of charge.

History

The Grandstand Entrance
The Grandstand Entrance (Jonathan Billinger / geograph.org.uk)

There was such disappointment following the closure of this course in 2012 given what a key part of the community it has been for so long. The course was opened in 1771 and back then featured three races that were all two miles in distance.

These were good times for the racecourse which would later introduced the Hereford Queens Plate, a race won by the hugely successful horse Fisherman, in 1857.

Flat racing was formerly on the menu at Hereford but fell in popularity once hurdle races and steeplechases were introduced. With jump races drawing in the crowds, flat racing was dropped in 1883 and is yet to return. The course enjoyed a sustained period of interest from keen racegoers for decades later but it was only immediately after the Second World War when things really took off.

Closure & Re-Opening

Growing attendances after 1946 provoked substantial modernisation work during the 1960s and this included the installation of a photo finish camera in 1966. In 1975, Hereford hosted an incredibly busy day of racing that consisted of 14 races in total featuring 219 runners, giving punters more than their money’s worth.

Sadly, the hey-days at Hereford weren’t to last forever and the ARC closed the racecourse in 2012 citing the recession and the rise of internet gambling. In 2016, however, the company was able to resolve its differences with the local council, providing a huge boost to an area, which has quite a high concentration of racehorse trainers.