Huntingdon Racecourse Guide

Race at Huntingdon
Race Horse at Huntingdon (Richard Humphrey / geograph.org.uk)

Huntingdon Racecourse, based in Cambridgeshire, is a jumps only course that typically features 18 meetings across October to May. It’s one of fifteen courses in the UK owned by the Jockey Club, the largest commercial group in the sport.

The course was voted ‘Best Small Racecourse’ in the South Midlands and East Anglia by the Racegoers Club in both 2012 and 2014 so has formal recognition for its quality facilities.

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The Course

The oval shaped right-handed track at Huntingdon is around one and a half miles in length. The ease of the bends and overall flatness help make it a fast track and it is quicker horses who tend to prosper here as a result, except for when testing conditions prevail.

Huntingdon is popular among some trainers as somewhere to give novice hurdlers a run out as it’s an easy course to ride and one that won’t produce many casualties. For chasers, the course can pose a bit more of a test as some of the well maintained fences are tricky. It is essential that runners are quick and fluent over the nine fences per circuit or else they risk being left behind.

Major Races

The big hurdles race at Huntingdon is the Sidney Barnes Memorial Novices’ Hurdle, a Listed quality event which has been on the go since 1976. Its inaugural run was followed by four years of abandonments due to adverse weather but cancellations are rare now for the race that is due to take place every February.

The really big occasion comes over the fences however: the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase. With prize money of more than £65,000, it’s Huntingdon’s most expensive race by some margin and attracts a high quality of horses although fields tend to be fairly small. Champion Chase winner, Edredon Blue, has the honour of being the most success horse in the race’s history, winning on four consecutive occasions between 1998 and 2001.

Visiting

The Old & New Grandstands
The Old & New Grandstands (Richard Humphrey / geograph.org.uk)

With general admission starting at £10 for most racedays, Huntingdon is a great place to see some decent quality racing on a low budget.

Useful Info

Dress Code

No formal dress code is in place at Huntingdon but it is best to dress smartly in any of the hospitality areas and avoid any ripped clothing or trainers. Fancy dress is permitted but must not cause offence or expose too much skin.

Ticket Prices

Substantial savings are made buying tickets in advance. Advance general admission tickets for midweek racedays cost £10 compared to £15 on the day and for weekend racedays they cost £12 and £16 respectively. More premium racedays, such as Ladies Night are more expensive with admission costing £18 in advance or £22 on the day.

There are only limited advance tickets for each meeting so early booking is advised. Students with a valid NUS card receive 33% off on the day tickets and senior citizens who sign up to the Regional Diamond Club are eligible to a £5 discount for each meeting.

Membership

Annual membership at Huntingdon is very fairly priced at £170 ad there are plenty perks included with this. You will receive two complimentary friends and family tickets, four racecard vouchers, Peterborough Chase restaurant discounts, £5 off admission at Market Rasen, Nottingham and Warwick Racecourses and free access to more than 60 reciprocal fixtures.

Getting There

Driving is the easiest way to get to the course but as trains regularly stop at Huntingdon from both Peterborough and London Kings Cross, public transport is also an option.

Huntingdon Station is 2.5 miles from the course but there’s no need to walk as a complimentary car service collects racegoers for two hours before the first race and returns you half an hour either side of the last.

Parking

All parking is free of charge.

History

The Bookmakers at Huntingdon
The Bookmakers at Huntingdon (Richard Humphrey / geograph.org.uk)

Huntingdon Racecourse has been hosting racing near Brampton since 1886 with the first meeting falling at Easter. The opening race was a three mile chase won by a horse named Catherine The Great. At the time, and in the previous century, there were several racecourses in the surrounding areas but many were forced to close and by the early 20th Century Huntingdon was one of the few that remained.

Cambridge Racecourse fell in 1925 and Huntingdon was able to benefit from the reduction in competition. The best times for the racecourse still lay ahead though, beginning in 1953 when John Goodcliff was appointed Chairman of the Steeplechase Committee. He initiated a series of renovations that significantly improved the course at quite a rapid rate and he was also responsible for the open ditch that faces the grandstand, one of Huntingdon’s defining features.

Peterborough Chase

Another big boost came with the introduction of the Peterborough Chase in 1969. It didn’t take long to be recognised as a quality event, even attracting Desert Orchid who came third in 1991. Henrietta Knight has to be mentioned for her dominance of the race around the millennium, saddling eight winners across just 10 renewals between 1998-2007.