Sandown Park Racecourse Guide

Sandown Park Grandstand
Sandown Park Grandstand (Mike Quinn /

Located in Esher, Surrey, Sandown Park is just one of three racecourses to be based in the outskirts of London. Despite being rather close to such a thriving urban hub, Sandown is based in some picturesque parkland that gives the place a rather relaxed feel and helps contribute to huge appeal of the course.

The popular venue hosts both high class flat and jump racing throughout the year, attracting many top horses to charming surroundings. While it’s far from the oldest place with a history of racing, Sandown Park was the first purpose built racecourse in Britain.

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The Course

The right handed oval flat course stretches 13 furlongs all the way around. There is small straight track however for five furlong races and its one that rises steadily throughout and intersects the main circuit. The sprint course has a strong draw bias with the advantage to those on the far side rail. On the round course, the uphill run in is a key feature which often has a huge say in the outcome of the race.

The jump course is also oval-like in shape but the turns are tighter. It’s a great galloping course thanks to the long straights though and is regarded as one of the best steeplechase tests in Britain. Part of the reason why is that the seven fences that fill the back straight follow rather quickly after one another. When conditions are good, it’s a track that favours those that like to lead from the front and the emphasis is more on speed.

For hurdles races, while most of the course is the same as the chase circuit, there is a separate, straighter run-in, to the finishing post. While the jumps aren’t as high as those for the chases, it can still be just as testing especially in the winter months with boggy conditions common. For both hurdle and chase races, a good position exiting the final bend is key otherwise there is often too much work to do to catch up to the leading horses.

Major Races

Unusually, Sandown Park has a very even mix of Class 1 jumping and flat events, not specialising in one over the other. For the flat racing though, there is one standout race and that’s the one mile and two furlong Eclipse Stakes. Named after the undefeated 18th century thoroughbred, the Eclipse Stakes has a long history of attracting top names since its inception in 1886. It boasts a very large prize fund and is the highlight of Sandown’s summer racing. Halling, Sea The Stars and more recently Golden Horn, are just some of the great horses to have taken this one.

When it comes to the track’s jump racing calendar, there are two major races to choose from. The first one in the year is the Gold Cup which usually runs in April. The three mile, five and half furlong race includes 24 fences and is a real test of stamina and jumping ability. For many, it’s the last big race of the National Hunt season, which gives it some added importance.

The Tingle Creek Chase is Sandown’s other big jump race and it’s the highlight event of a two day meet in early December. The two mile contest boasts an unbelievable list of winners including Moscow Flyer, Kauto Star, Master Minded, Sizing Europe and the mighty Sprinter Sacre.


Sandown Racecourse
Sandown Racecourse (Rob Farrow /

Sandown Park is one of the most modern and accessible courses in the country, making it well worthy of a day out.

Useful Info

Dress Code

In the Grandstand Enclosure & Racegoers Restaurant, casual wear is accepted but there are a few things not permitted such as sportswear, ripped denim and bare chests. Smarter clothing is required for anyone in the Premier Enclosure, Hospitality & the Hennessy Restaurant.

For the gents, this includes a collared shirt, with or without a tie and while denim and shorts are allowed, denim must be smart and shorts tailored. No dress code applies to children under 12.

Ticket Prices

There are two different enclosures at Sandown, the Grandstand Enclosure of the Premier Enclosure. Advance tickets for the former are available at around £16 for most meetings but on special occasions such as the Tingle Creek Day, prices are hiked to £27.50.

For the Premier Enclosure, advanced tickets start at £22.40 rising to around £40 for the biggest fixtures. On the day, prices are typically around 10%-20% more than the advanced prices. Students can get Grandstand admission for £10 on selected meetings via the Racing Union and there is a £5 discount for over 60s on the day except on a few selected fixtures. Every raceday also offers a Grandstand Winner Package ticket, which ranges from £28-£41.50.

Along with admission, you will get a racecard, £10 food & drink voucher, a £2 tote bet and free entry voucher to Kempton Park (exclusions apply). For those after fine dining alongside the racing, two restaurant packages are readily available with prices starting at £75 and £120 respectively.


To see the chase and hurdle action at Sandown Park there are several options. A jump season card costs £90, jump membership costs £180 and a Sandown & Kempton Park dual jump membership is available for £315. For flat racing, there is both a season pass and flat membership but the price for next season is not yet confirmed.

To watch all the action year round, a full season pass is available at £175 and full membership is £350, or £175 for those aged 18-24. The benefits of being a member over a season pass holder include Premier Enclosure and Annual Members’ Lounge access, complimentary racecards, exclusive members only activities and discounts on raceday hospitality and advanced tickets.

Getting There

Esher station is just a 10 minute walk from the racecourse and trains from London Waterloo take you there directly in around 25 minutes, leaving around four times every hour. From the station a complimentary mini bus service runs on racedays if you don’t fancy the walk.


You can park for free in the centre of the racecourse but the gates will be closed 10 minutes before and after each race to allow the horses to travel freely. Alternatively there is the main car park down Portsmouth Road which costs £6 or is free if you are a blue badge holder.


Sandown Park History
Sandown Park History (Colin Smith /

In 1870, a large plot of land was for sale in Esher, a place which only had a population of around 1,800 at the time. Local residents favoured a lunatic asylum being built on the land rather than a racecourse due to the latter’s links to drunken crooks and cheats! The proposal of an enclosed racecourse, however, which meant people had to pay to get in, helped allay such fears and work began shortly after. We can only assume the lunatics were left to roam London’s streets!

When the racecourse opened its doors in 1875, the focus was on etiquette and male racegoers were encouraged to bring their wives and daughters for a civilised day out. As a result of this, Sandown became known as the ‘the ladies’ racecourse, par excellence’. Although the inaugural meeting was hit by heavy showers, good crowds showed up for the action and they were treated to an appearance by top jockey Fred Archer.

Royal Visitors

Perhaps the popularity of the course amongst the female guests was best captured by the Queen Mother, who ranked Sandown Park as one of her favourite venues. One of her horses, Special Cargo, won the Whitbread Cup here in 1984, a race now known as the Gold Cup.


Throughout its time, Sandown has always had a reputation for being a modern and innovative course. In 1972 it was time for new investment and a 7,600 capacity stand was built as a result. More extensive redevelopment was completed 30 years later at a cost of £23million. The money paid for the new Eclipse Pavilion and a complete redo of the Grandstand area.

While many courses used to combine flat and jump racing on the same day, Sandown Park remains as one of only two courses that still offer this, the other being Haydock Park. So, whether you love action on the flat or National Hunt, why not see what this brilliant track has to offer?