Uttoxeter Racecourse Guide

Uttoxeter Track
Uttoxeter Track (Dave Pickersgill / geograph.org.uk)

Uttoxeter Racecourse has had an eventful history since its early 20th century origins. The Staffordshire based course lies in the south east of the small market town of Uttoxeter, close to the passing River Dove.

It holds a continuous schedule of National Hunt racing that stretches over the whole year. There are 25 fixtures per season, many with their own signature occasion so there’s usually something for everyone here.

Jump to: Course | Races | Useful Info | History

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The Course

The left-handed course at Uttoxeter would be oval in shape if not for a zig zag across the top of the course. While being on the inside of a course is usually the quickest and shortest way around, the S-like shape at Uttoxeter means that smarter jockeys will take to the outside down the back straight to save time at the corner ahead.

When the going is good, the pace is often quick here and horses that lead from the front carry a significant advantage. Catching prominent runners is an easier task when conditions are gruelling however, but only if a horse has plenty of stamina. Many horses lose here in the winter not being able to see out the trip and tiredness leads some to fall over the latter fences despite them not being overly stiff in nature.

Major Races

Without doubt, Uttoxeter’s biggest race is the four mile, one furlong Midlands’ Grand National which takes place every March. The Listed handicap is a well-attended one and was quite remarkably won by David Pipe trained horses four years in a row starting in 2011. It often welcomes horses who have the Grand National at Aintree in mind, the most famous example perhaps being Lord Gyllene, National winner in 1997.

Slightly later on in the season and the Uttoxeter Summer Cup is another race worthy of being mentioned. It’s quite a new addition to the racing calendar, having replaced the Summer National in 2012 and is half a mile shorter at three miles, two furlongs. It’s another listed handicap that includes plenty of good quality horses and well-known trainers.

Visiting

Centaur Sculpture Uttoxeter
Centaur Sculpture in Uttoxeter in Celebration of the Racecourse (John M / geograph.org.uk)

There are usually a few fixtures per season that end with a performance from a big musical act, great if you are after some additional entertainment. This makes Uttoxeter a good choice for those who aren’t out and out racing lovers.

Useful Info

Dress Code

Things are easy going at Uttoxeter for the most part, you only need to avoid ripped jeans, sports shirts and bare tops for entry to the enclosures. In hospitality areas, the rules are stricter and guests must come in smart casual dress, jeans are not allowed. Many people choose to dress up on themed days which often see a prize awarded to the best dressed.

Ticket Prices

As with almost all tracks, prices on the day at Uttoxeter vary depending on what type of meeting it is. Standard midweek meetings are the cheapest, with prices at £10 for Centre Course, £18 for Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure and £22 for Premier Enclosure. Weekend prices are £2 to £3 more expensive and they increase further on Ladies Day/Night to £24 in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure and £32 in the Premier Enclosure.

Meetings featuring a live music performance afterwards come at an additional premium. Savings of usually £2 or £3 can be made on admission, except in the Centre Course, when booking in advance. Pensioners do receive a £3 concession in the Grandstand & Paddock and Premier enclosures when purchased on the day. Accompanied under 18s receive free entry.

Membership

Annual badges are priced at £310 for adults and £230 for senior citizens. Premier Enclosure access for all Uttoxeter meets is included as well as entry to the 16 other Arena Race Company racecourses (plus four complimentary tickets) and a long list of reciprocal meetings.

You’ll also receive a spot in the dedicated members’ car park, a raceday programme at every meeting, access to the private annual members bar and have the chance to go on a stable visit.

Getting There

With Uttoxeter Railway Station situated a short walk from the racecourse, taking the train is a very easy way of getting to the course. The most frequent train services run from Derby and Stoke although you can also catch a direct service from Crewe.

Parking

Plenty of parking is available and it is all free of charge.

History

AP McCoy
AP McCoy, cropped (Sinn Féin / Flickr.com)

With the closure of Keele Park Racecourse in 1906, an opportunity arose in the area for a new racecourse. Uttoxeter was ultimately the place to seize the opportunity and just one year later the course was hosting five days of racing each year. In the early days, it was nobility and gentry that featured prominently in the crowd.

Racing was paused for the duration of the First World War but it enjoyed a steady return which continued for two decades until conflict broke out again. After World War Two, racing did not resume immediately as part of the course was owned by a local farmer, who was demanding excessive amounts to lease or sell his land.

The difference with the farmer was eventually resolved, just as the possibility of liquidation was becoming very real. On 12th April 1952, things were back underway with a very respectable crowd of 12,000 in attendance. Although the venue was popular, funds were not available to improve the course and so the board turned to the Horserace Betting Levy Board for assistance. In 1966, a scheme was approved that would see £167,000 go towards the much needed modernisation of the course.

Funding would stop being an issue in 1988 when the course was purchase by Northern Racing. Within just 10 years of the takeover, two new grandstands and a new paddock were built.

Famous Horses & Jockeys

AP McCoy, pictured in this section, would make history here in 2002, when securing his 1700th win aboard Might Monteflaco. With this victory, he surpassed Richard Dunwoody’s record and became the all-time leading National Hunt jockey. The Northern Irishman would later ride Synchronised to a win here before pairing up again during a victorious Welsh Grand National outing.

Uttoxeter is a track well known by those in the racing fraternity and is a nice middle sized venue with decent facilities and lots to offer. With easy access via the train station, why not see for yourself?