Perth Racecourse Guide

Winning Post at Perth Racecourse
Winning Post at Perth Racecourse (Bill Nicholls / geograph.org.uk)

Britain’s most northern racecourse, Perth, regularly provides spectators with a fantastic day out. It describes itself as a place that offers some of the most thrilling races in the UK and one that is able to attract a high calibre of owners, jockeys and trainers.

Just next to the racecourse you will find the listed historic house, Scone Palace, and its stunning surroundings which include the passing River Tay. With such a lovely backdrop, the award winning course is very easy on the eye, especially when the sun comes out.

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The Course

Perth’s one and a quarter mile, right-handed course may seem quite easy at first but it’s one that is deceptively difficult. One reason for this is because races here can often turn into a real test of stamina. The long straight towards the finishing post encourages jockeys to start racing early on but it’s a very long way home. There is a big gap between the last fence and the line so to finish strongly, a horse needs to be travelling well.

The tight bends also causes some horses difficulty and they are ones that are to the advantage of prominent runners. It’s not all tough going at Perth though, the course is wonderfully flat and the eight fences per circuit and one water jump (avoided during the last lap) don’t pose much of a challenge to the best runners and riders.

Major Races

April’s three day Perth Festival is always the season opener at the Scottish track and there is always a decent crowd in attendance. The first day of racing is headlined by the Gold Castle Novice Hurdle which was recently upgraded to Listed status. On the final day, the Highland National is the main attraction and the three mile, six furlong race is the longest race Perth holds all season. It’s a race growing in stature and one that always produces a worthy winner.

The most major race outside of the Festival is the Class 2 Perth Gold Cup. Run over a distance of just under three miles, this handicap race offers a prize purse of at least £25,000. It recently welcomed former Charlie Hall Chase champion Menorah, although the then 11 year old could only muster up a second place finish.

Visiting

Perth Grandstand
Perth Grandstand (Bill Nicholls / geograph.org.uk)

Racing at Perth is schedule outside of the normal National Hunt season and instead runs between the warmer months of April and September.

Useful Info

Dress Code

No formal codes of dress are enforced in the Grandstand and Centre Course and it is advised you dress for the weather. More serious racegoers can be spotted in tweed and you’ll see many Ladies in bright, vibrant gear but there’s nothing stopping you opting for casual or fancy dress.

On Ladies Day, prizes are issued for the best dressed lady, man and for the best hat. In private hospitality areas and the Galileo Restaurant, there is a smart casual policy to adhere to. Suits and open neck shirts are the norm for men and for ladies, dresses and smart country clothing is common.

Ticket Prices

It pays to book early at Perth as early bird tickets come with a £3 discount. This means entry to the Grandstand for most races can be purchased for £18, rising to £25 for more high profile meetings. Perth Festival tickets can be purchased for £20 each day or £50 for a three day ticket. Keep your eye out for the Party in the Paddock meet which costs just £5 a ticket.

For all other racedays, discounted tickets of just £10 are available for concessions (students, over 60’s and the disabled). Tickets purchased online carry of a handling fee of £1 per fixture. Under 18’s are admitted free, no ticket required.

Membership

Annual membership costs £135, or £110 for the over 65s. You’ll receive exclusive access to the three on-site members-only bars, discounts on racecourse hospitality and be allocated a seat at the annual members lunch. Being a member will save you up to £160 on admission prices and also provide you with the opportunity to attend a wide range of reciprocal fixtures.

Getting There

A special bus service runs on racedays, picking up by the Playhouse Cinema on Mill Street, one hour before the first race and returning 10 minutes after the last. This service costs £3 for a single ticket and £4 for a return.

If travelling by train, Perth Station has regular direct connections going to the likes of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The station is four miles from the course so you’ll need to catch the aforementioned bus service, or a taxi, upon arrival. You will find a taxi rank outside the station but pre-booking is advised.

Parking

There are 2,000 free parking spaces available on every raceday. On weekend and Ladies Day, you also have the option of parking inside the course by purchasing a Centre Course ticket for £17 per adult (free for accompanied children). Here you can set up a gazebo and enjoy the racing with your own BBQ.

History

Entrance to Perth Racecourse
Entrance to Perth Racecourse (Bill Nicholls / geograph.org.uk)

Racing at Perth has been on the go for over 400 years, dating back to 1613 when gentleman raced horses competitively on land known as the South Inch, located beside the River Tay. There was a focus on entertainment alongside racing in these days but things were put on hold by Oliver Cromwell’s crusade against racing.

With King Charles II on the throne however, racing returned to Perth although it was soon moved to the North Inch, on a piece of land donated by the 8th Earl of Kinnoull. The Royal Caledonian Hunt Club was impressed with the flat racing on offer and in 1818 they introduced the Caledonian Gold Cup and helped increased the number of racedays.

Scone Palace Park

During the early 20th century, drunken behaviour was ruining the enjoyment of the racing for many spectators and there was a danger future racing could be cancelled. As a result, the Earl of Mansfield sought a more suitable location for the venue, a spot in Scone Palace Park where the course has remained since. The first race following the switch took place on 23rd September, 1908. The foundations of the main grandstand that was built for the inaugural day of racing are still in place today.

The Mansfields

The Mansfield family remain as the owners of the course but it is the committee who are largely responsible for any decision making. They’ve helped double the number of fixtures from seven in the 1980s to a total of 14 now. Their hard work also led to Perth being voted as the best racecourse in the North on seven occasions between 2003 and 2012.