Chelmsford City Racecourse

Chelmsford, CM3 1QP - Map & Directions
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Chelmsford City Racecourse opened in 2008 as Great Leighs Racecourse and was then the first new racecourse to be opened since 1927, when Taunton galloped into life. Sadly it lasted less than 12 months before going into administration, but it reopened in January 2015 with a new name, one that the owners presumably think will help with marketing the course as it’s actually much closer to Braintree than Chelmsford.

Theoretically there should be a strong market in this area as although Newmarket, the home of British racing, is just 50 miles away, there is no track in Essex itself nor in neighbouring Hertfordshire. The track, which hosts flat races only, is now owned by a syndicate fronted by Betfred owner Fred Done and it is hoped that it will grow into an established course, having reopened on 11th January 2015 for a small invite-only meeting.

The course is five miles north of Chelmsford, with regular trains running from London to the city and the course a 20 minute taxi from the station. Those arriving by car will find access easy enough via the A131, M11 or A120 and there is free parking available on site. In 2015 Chelmsford will host 58 fixtures but they hope to grow that number in their bid to be “Europe’s best all weather horse racing venue”.

Ticket Prices

Chelmsford offers annual memberships, corporate membership and excellent value season tickets, the latter of which is just £180 for all 2015 meetings with additional season tickets (for race-goers who reside at the same address) priced at just £120.

Tickets are generally £15 for most meetings, though prices vary, with the highest standard ticket being £22. Children under the age of 16 are free of charge, subject to age verification if requested.

The Course

Chelmsford City Racecourse Map

Chelmsford City offers a completely flat test and is a left-handed oval of slightly more than a mile (8.5 furlongs to be precise). Two chutes allow for 7f and 1m starts and because of the gentle galloping turns and consistent all-weather polytrack surface it is a relatively easy and fair racecourse that doesn’t especially favour any type of horse.

It’s also a course that has received many plaudits from trainers and jockeys alike who both approve of its modern and near immaculate design. It has had many false starts and teething issues over the years but it seems the owners have now got things very right in this pleasant corner of Essex.

In terms of the statistical analysis of winners, it is early days in the track’s history but everything is set up for Chelmsford to be a largely unbiased track. From what we can tell so far, it’s possible to win from anywhere, providing a truly fair test for all involved.

An unchallenging circuit combined with a lack of bias makes a bet at Chelmsford a safe option whenever trainers seek to give inexperienced runners a try out. This is particularly true of those located in Newmarket who have increasingly used Chelmsford City as a one of their preferred hunting grounds.

Kickback No Longer an Issue

Preparing Chelmsford City racecourse for its grand re-opening was no easy task but one thing that seemingly needed minimal work was the all-weather course. The Polytrack surface had undergone only light usage during the brief time it held racing before the closure of Great Leighs Racecourse.

As a result, it passed suitability tests with ease, as well as having approval from local trainers. Despite appearing perfectly up-to-scratch though, during the early days of its re-birth, Chelmsford suffered from some quite severe kickback issues.

Sand being flung into the faces of horses and jockeys further back made it that much more difficult to come from behind and a number of jockeys were vocal about the issue. To help fix the problem, more fibre was added to the track in the summer of 2015 and then more again the following year.

During especially hot periods, the ground staff also reduced the amount of decompaction, once again with the goal of minimising kickback. The hard work from those involved has led to exceptional improvements at the course, effectively ridding Chelmsford of the strong front-runner bias it previously had.

No Major Bias for Now

As said, it is too early really to consider draw bias at Chelmsford City. There has only been a course at the current site since 2008 but this lasted little more than a year. In 2015, the course came back with some changes and further alterations to the surface discussed above mean that we really only have a couple of years’ of data to consider.

Turf Plans

Late in 2017, Chelmsford began preparation for the installation of a one mile turf circuit which would run inside the all-weather track. Speaking at the time, Andy Waitt, Clerk of the Course, spoke enthusiastically about the planned £3m work but things haven’t progressed as quickly as he first indicated.

April 2019 was initially picked out as the time the turf course would be up and running but it appears that expanding the all-weather schedule has taken priority. Should the plans eventually materialise, Chelmsford will be the first course in the UK offering floodlit turf racing.

Major Meetings at Chelmsford City Racecourse

As a new track there are no major meetings held at Chelmsford, although it is sure to try and bring in some bigger races. The course also plays hosts to fixtures as part of the All-Weather Championships, with those fixtures held up until the 1st April each year.

Dining & Hospitality

There is a good range of dining, drinking and hospitality options available at Chelmsford City with all budgets catered for. The Fairwood Restaurant is situated adjacent to the home straight and can cater to up to 250 guests with two and three course bistro-style menus available for between £41 and £86 depending on the package and fixture.

The Fairwood Lounge can be hired with bespoke hospitality options and is opposite the winning post, with a private terrace making the perfect spot to watch a winner romp home. The Club Restaurant and Lounge offers an even more luxurious experience, with packages ranging from £62 to £112, whilst the two Sportsbars offer more informal options and sometimes feature live music after the racing has finished. Packages including a reserved table, drinks and a curry are available for either Sportsbar venue.


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