Fakenham Racecourse

The Racecourse, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 7NY - Map & Directions
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Fakenham Racecourse
Fakenham Racecourse (Richard Humphrey / geograph.org.uk)

With the first meeting taking place in 1905, National Hunt racing at Fakenham has been going on for well over 100 years, with racing there being consistent since its inception with the exception of the war years. For the first 20 years of its existence, the course was used exclusively for a single yearly day of steeplechase and despite a hurdles course being introduced in 1926 a second race meeting fixture was not introduced until 1947. Each year Fakenham hosts up to nine race meetings and gives horses experience before major festival outings.

In 2002, the grandstand that had stood on site since 1953 was replaced by a new model, which cost over £1m. In the same year the Prince of Wales replaced the Queen as the patron of the course and he was granted the honour of opening the brand new stand. Fakenham has free parking for all visitors and is easy to get to from all directions. From the north take the A1 then the A17, whereas those travelling from the south should follow the A1065. Customers from the west and east are encouraged to travel via the A148 and A1067 respectively. The easy car access is useful, as travelling by train is more difficult.

The nearest station is Sheringham, which is served by frequent access from Norwich, however, it is over 17 miles from the racecourse. Kings Lynn station is even further afield, located 22 miles away however trains to this station are a lot more frequent and reliable. There are local bus services throughout East Anglia, with a regular service from Norwich to Fakenham.

Ticket Prices

Entry to the member’s area at Fakenham costs as little as £18 and access to the grandstand is priced at a reduced rate of £13. Entry to the course costs just £8 whilst those visiting who are under the age of 17 are allowed free entry when accompanied by a full paying adult.

The Course

Fakenham Jumps Racecourse Map

The course at Fakenham is almost square in shape, so the left-handed one-mile long track is well known for its tight corners. The steeplechase course is situated to the outside of the hurdles track and has six fences, with an open ditch as the second to last obstacle that horses face. The fences can be considered moderately difficult and those that take them quickly end up saving themselves some valuable seconds.

As well as the tight corners, the course is very undulating so is more suited to well balanced and agile animals. Galloping types simply don’t have the flat straights needed to really stretch their legs and subsequently they rarely feature here. The hurdles course has fewer obstacles than the steeplechase, with horses only having to hurdle four flights – one on each straight.

The Tightest Test?

With four major turns on such a small circuit, Fakenham is arguably the sharpest National Hunt course horses will have to contend with in Britain. There’s little time spent running in a straight line here as the next corner is never far away at all. Front running tactics, particularly in shorter races, are regularly encouraged as a result, as jockeys can find life hard when overtaking with little ground between the corners and jumps. Attempting to pass on the outside is a difficult ask as well due to all the extra ground a horse must cover, while crowding can be an issue closer to the rail.

In longer races though, jockeys can afford to bide their time a little more as others set off too quickly here, not realising that it’s actually still quite a long way home. This is particularly true during the wetter months as the going at Fakenham is often tougher than advertised. Soft ground here will often be more energy sapping than elsewhere and on such occasions stamina overtakes speed as being the most important quality a potential Fakenham winner must possess.

Major Meetings at Fakenham

Fakenham Grandstand
Fakenham Grandstand (Richard Humphrey / geograph.org.uk)

Due to being a relatively small course, there generally aren’t any famous meetings or festivals at Fakenham, however there are a number of sponsored and charity events each year which tend to be aimed at children in an effort to make the racecourse more child friendly and family inclusive.

The organisers at Fakenham pride themselves on their Ladies’ Day each June, which, following tradition, revolves around female visitors taking the opportunity to put on their best dress and heels for a glamorous day at the races. The 2014 event involved six top class race jumps including a race for female jockeys only, as well as prizes for the best dressed woman, best dressed couple and the best hat.

Dining and Hospitality

Fakenham Course
Fakenham Course (Richard Humphrey / geograph.org.uk)

There are three private hospitality boxes available at Fakenham all able to house 20 guests, however there is the opportunity to combine them to host a party of potentially 40 or 60 visitors. The garden room can host 30 people, whilst a marquee with full catering and a hospitality package is available for parties between 30 and 30. These packages come with a selection of food and depending on your preferences it can cost between £60 and £90 plus VAT per person.


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