Market Rasen Racecourse Guide

Track & Grandstand at Market Rasen
Track & Grandstand at Market Rasen (Neil Theasby / geograph.org.uk)

Being a strictly National Hunt course hasn’t stopped Market Rasen offering racing all year round. Even in the off-season, the rurally located venue offers a rather busy schedule of jump racing, forming a good chunk of their 22 yearly fixtures.

It’s Lincolnshire’s only racecourse and one that attract many local racing enthusiasts. The course promotes itself as being a family friendly venue though so it’s a fine place to take even the youngest and most inexperienced of racegoers.

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The Course

The right handed track at Market Rasen is almost rectangular in shape and as a result the corners are sharp. There are minor undulations throughout and it’s a course that favours horses that are quick and light on their feet, at least during the summer when the ground is rarely testing.

It’s a difficult course to make up ground so grabbing an early lead, even in longer distances races can be a big advantage. There is a very long home straight that features either three fences or two hurdles, neither of which post much in the way of a serious challenge. It’s here though where many horses can break away from the chasing pack and they are often hard to catch provided they don’t set off too early.

Major Races

Market Rasen features several Listed quality races but none are more high profile than the £50,000 Summer Plate Handicap Chase. It’s run over a distance of two miles, five furlongs and 89 yards, taking place during the popular July meeting. It runs alongside the two mile, one furlong Summer Hurdle and the pair of big races help make it quite the occasion in front of what can be a vocal, capacity crowd.

Visiting

Crowds at Market Rasen
Crowds at Market Rasen (Richard Croft / geograph.org.uk)

For summer National Hunt racing, Market Rasen is a very good venue to choose and they hold eight fixtures between May and August.

Useful Info

Dress Code

Casual clothing is the norm in the Tattersalls Enclosure and even moderate fancy dress is allowed. The only thing to remember is there are no bare tops here and singlets are also not allowed either.

In the County Enclosure, smart casual is required. Tailored shorts are acceptable but ripped jeans, t-shirts, collarless shirts, beachwear, trainers and extreme attire are not. Jacket and ties are encouraged but are not compulsory.

Ticket Prices

For midweek fixtures, there is a ‘one enclosure’ policy in force meaning you don’t have to pay extra for Country Enclosure entry. Admission costs £12 for adults and £6 for those aged 18-24 who have signed up for a Jockey Club RacePass. 

On weekend race days, there are two main options when it comes to tickets. Tattersalls Enclosure admission tends to cost £14.40-£18 and a spot in the County Enclosure ranges from £18.90 to £24.30. The prices mentioned are for advanced purchases and tickets on the day will be 10% more expensive.

Any Ladies Day meetings that feature live racing come at a premium, with advance Tattersalls Enclosure tickets priced at £48 and County Enclosure tickets at £58. Senior Citizens who sign up to the Diamond Club will be eligible for 25% of admission prices on all race days except for ones featuring music performances.

Membership

New membership for individuals costs £220 at Market Rasen. It comes with exclusive Limber Hill Bar access, a priority parking spot, exclusive special offers throughout the year and over 60 reciprocal fixtures. Applications made before Boxing Day will usually entitle you to six County Enclosure guest passes as well.

Getting There

There’s rarely much traffic in the surrounding areas to the course so most of your journey should be free from serious delay. If going by public transport, Market Rasen Railway Station is a mile away from the course, with direct trains running from Grimsby and Lincoln. From the station, taxis are available but many choose to walk instead.

Parking

Free parking is readily available with spots close to the entrance reserved for disabled visitors. Picnic car parks, allowing you to watch the racing from inside your vehicle, are also available at a cost of £5 per car.

History

Aerial View of Market Rasen
Aerial View of Market Rasen (Chris / geograph.org.uk)

So-called Feast Week racing took place on an annual basis at Market Rasen and was the only fixture of the year between 1828 and 1887. With steeplechasing growing in popularity since its mid-19th century introduction though, a second meeting was added to incorporate racing over fences.

For all of this time and until 1924, racing had taken place at several locations around Market Rasen, never settling in one place. Willinghome Road eventually became the long-term home however and the course has remained there since. It was all thanks to four local gentleman who raised enough funds to purchase 50 acres of land for a permanent site and another further 50 that were rented for raceday use.

Victor Lucas

Originally, members from three nearby Hunts: Brockelsby, Southwold and Burton had been responsible for the race company in charge of the course. Between 1945 and 1971, however, the man in control was Victor Lucas and many of his ideas for the course layout, paddock, parade ring, stands and weighing room are visible in today’s facilities. Lucas was also responsible for increasing the number of fixtures, from just three a year when he took control, to 13 in 1967.

Victor Lucas Memorial Chase

In 1967, the course was sold to Racecourse Holding Trust, a subsidiary of the Jockey Club, although Victor Lucas still retained his post as managing director. The decision was made, in the words of Lucas “for racing to continue at Market Rasen for as far as the eye could see.” Due to the instrumental role he played in the development of the course, Market Rasen hosts the Victor Lucas Memorial Chase every year in his honour.