Lingfield Park Racecourse

Address:
Racecourse Road, Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6PQ - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01342 834800
View from the Grandstand
View from the Grandstand (Richard Croft / geograph.org.uk)

Lingfield Park Racecourse (just plain old Linfield to most) is just one of four in the UK that operates an artificial all-weather Polytrack, which allows racing to take place all through the year and in all but the very worst of weather conditions.

The Prince of Wales (who later became Edward VII) opened the 450-acre estate in 1890 (would you believe there was no Polytrack back then!), and the first race meeting took place that same year. It was initially only a jumps course but in 1894 the Jockey Club granted permission for flat racing to be held and racing has been taking place continuously since then, apart form a brief closure during WWII. It is one of the busiest tracks in Europe with over 100 days of competitive racing taking place each year and the course was featured in the 1954 film ‘The Rainbow Jacket’.

Previous track owners Ladbrokes sold the course in 1982 and the new owners immediately installed flood defences in order to alleviate flooding that had become a major problem in the area. An 18-hole golf course was opened on the site in 1987, whilst the construction and opening of a new £5.5million grandstand took place in 2004. Lingfield Park racecourse is easily accessible by following the brown tourist signs after Junction 6 of the M25. Those travelling by train should travel to Lingfield station, which is just a five-minute walk from the course and a 50-minute journey from London Victoria, making Lingfield extremely easy to reach for those travelling from or via the capital.

Ticket Prices

Access to the Premier Enclosure at Lingfield is priced at just £16, whilst those visiting who are under the age of 18 are allowed access free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult.

The Course

Lingfield’s claim to fame is that it’s the only racecourse in the UK that offers two types of flat racing, turf and all-weather, as well as National Hunt action. Able to host everything British horse racing has to offer, it’s a place with a very busy schedule that runs all year round.

The all-weather course began with an equitrack surface before polytrack replaced it in 2001. It’s located on the inside of the turf course, measuring 1m2f in length and featuring a tiny chute on the 2f home straight to enable 1m4f races.

The turf flat course is a little longer at 1m4f in circumference and is run left-handed, with a sharp and galloping nature making it a tough test. Triangular in shape, the track features a continuous climb to the end of the back straight before a sharp turn and steep descent to home. The home straight is a 3½f run in, joined by a chute, which is able to produce a 7f straight course for shorter races.

As for the National Hunt racing, during winter, the flat course is converted into the hurdles course, which features six flights of the smaller obstacles. Steeplechasing, however, takes place on its own patch, a 1m 5f circuit that runs along the outside of the flat/hurdles track. It’s a course largely sharp in character, unless the going is tough, and one that features some of the easiest fences around. Causality rates are very low as a result with only the biggest of mistakes not forgiven, making this a good place for horses to be given their first outing over fences.

Rainfall An Issue

It’s a good job Lingfield has so many scheduled meetings because cancellations due to wet weather are a common feature. The grass seems to soak up rainfall like a sponge, no doubt part of the reason they installed a far more resilient all-weather course.

National Hunt action must take place on turf though and jump fixtures suffer more abandonments per meeting here than at any other place in the country. At other times, when organisers are able to give the all-clear, conditions underfoot can be incredible testing, completely altering the complexion of races and putting a big emphasis on stamina.

The back straight in particular is notorious for getting incredibly deep and boggy, making the fences down there seem that extra bit taller. In such extreme conditions it’s really just a matter of who has the most stamina and who loves the mud the most.

Handy positions may be suited when the going is good but this is absolutely not the case in the mud. At such times, the only thing chasers have going for them is that their course is a little less undulating than the flat racing course.

Favoured Draw Depends on Course

On Lingfield’s flat turf course, a spot closest to the stand is undoubtedly the place to be. Horses with a high draw won 93 of the 208 races featuring 10+ runners that took place on the one mile straight track over the last decade or so.

Low drawn horses on the other hand won just 45, posting a weak Impact Value of just 0.72. Contrast this to the situation on the all-weather course where it is low draws that have a slight edge. There’s no bias for five furlong races with outsider runners able to cut some of the initial bend but those by the rail have performed a little better over six and seven furlongs.

An Unwanted Lead

There’s a belief that on Lingfield’s all-weather course, which was re-layed in 2012, it’s very difficult to win from the front despite the fairly slick surface. While not entirely true, it is a place in which hanging back often reaps reward in races of one mile or longer.

In these middle or long distance battles, horses often seem able to really power round the final bend, Lingfield’s famous “slingshot effect”, before launching their attack towards the line. Providing your horse is reasonably in touch, only a quick turn of foot is needed for them to make strong headway down the home straight.

Major Meetings at Lingfield Park

Side Buildings at Lingfield Park
Side Buildings at Lingfield Park (Richard Croft / geograph.org.uk)

There are a number of high profile races run each year at Lingfield, including the Chartwell Fillies Stakes, which was established in 1994 and is run over 7f every May. The Lingfield Derby Trial is also run in May, as well as the Lingfield Oaks Trial, and they are both run over a distance of 1m3f. The Winter Derby was established in 1998 and is run slightly earlier, slightly confusingly taking place in March, over a distance of 1m2f.

Dining and Hospitality

Lingfield Park
Lingfield Park Racecourse (Tom Walsingham / geograph.org.uk)

There is an assortment of bespoke packages to suit all tastes available, with private hospitality suites for between 10 and 450 guests available for just £85 + VAT per person and various other dining options available.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches