Ripon Racecourse

Address:
The Racecourse, Boroughbridge Road, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 1UG - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01765 530530
Ripon Racecourse
Ripon Racecourse (Steve Fareham / geograph.org.uk)

Often nicknamed the ‘garden racecourse’ due to its pleasant aesthetic surroundings, Ripon racecourse is one of the prettiest tracks in the country and is located in North Yorkshire. Although horse racing at the current site has only been taking place since August 1990, there has always been racing in the area, with records showing such activity recorded as early as 1664. Racing in the city (Ripon used to hold the distinction of being Britain’s smallest city) first gained national attention in 1723 when the track hosted Britain’s first ever race for female jockeys, whilst Ripon was also voted the ‘Best Small Racecourse in the North’ by The Racegoers Club in 2003.The top trainer of all time at Ripon is easily Tim Easterby, who won an impressive 33 of his 340 races between 2007 and 2011.

Ripon is most easily accessed via the A1(M), with visitors advised to leave at J48 and follow the brown signs for Ripon Cathedral, with the course coming on the left following the crossing of a narrow bridge. Those travelling by train should be aware that the two closest railway stations – Harrogate and Thirsk) are both 11 miles away, so can only be accessed from the racecourse realistically by taxi. The course is just two miles from Ripon town centre and there are a number of bus routes available.

Ticket Prices

Ripon racecourse operates two separate pricing structures – feature and standard. Feature prices allow access to the Club Stand for just £25, whilst entry to the Paddock Enclosure and Course Enclosure are priced at £16 and £6 respectively. Concessions and students are allowed entry to the Club Stand or Paddock Enclosure for a reduced rate of just £11, although some identification may be required.

Standard prices see Club Stand entry valued at £22, whilst the Paddock Enclosure entry is available for just £14. Standard access to the Course Enclosure is again priced at £6. Concessions and students also get a discount on these prices, with Club Stand and Paddock Enclosure entry available for £9. Visitors under the age of 18 are permitted into all enclosures free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult, although some identification may be required.

The Course

Ripon Racecourse
Ripon Racecourse (Andrew Abbott / geograph.org.uk)

Ripon Racecourse is used exclusively for flat racing, with races generally run right-handed over an undulating oval. Fairly sharp in character, the track measures at 1m5f in circumference and features one of the longer home straights in the country at 5f. A small chute by the start of the long straight allows for six furlong sprints to take place on a straight course.

The cramped and tight nature of the bend into the home straight means gallopers often struggle to maintain a strong lead as they make their way around. A further challenge is to come as there are minor undulations throughout the home stretch, which ends uphill. This makes balance an important factor as well as stamina too when the going is softer which isn’t infrequent at the North Yorkshire venue.

Wide Draw Bias a Myth

A common belief at Ripon is that on the sprint course, high draws fare best on good or better going while the advantage is reversed in softer conditions. The stats simply don’t back this up however with Ripon proving one of the fairer flat courses in the country.

When looking at all 5f and 6f races with at least eight runners, low drawn runners had exactly the same win rate as those drawn high (10%). On worse than good ground, low drawn horses only performed marginally better (12%) than high drawn (11%) and strike rates returned to being the same on faster soil.

As it happens, the only real disadvantage at Ripon lies with mid-drawn runners on good/soft, soft or heavy going. As runners tend to head to either rail during muddier races in search of better ground, those starting centrally have further to travel and can’t get as close to the rail.

It’s therefore quite unsurprising that they won just 19 of 94 sprints between May 2010 and August 2019 that were run on softer ground. In addition, they post an impact value of just 0.61 – a long way off their high drawn (1.28) and low drawn (1.11) rivals.

Don’t Get Held Up

Over every distance up to 12 furlongs, but particularly sprints, Ripon is a front-runners’ course when the going is good. A ridge around a furlong and a half out gives horses the platform to push on and when turning the burners on here, they can become incredibly difficult to catch.

Horses within a few lengths still stand a chance but any further back and you can almost forget it. A look at 5f handicaps highlights the point as hold up horses posted a strike rate of just 4% – one of the very worst in the country. Although they don’t fare quite so horribly over longer distances, Ripon’s quick finishes mean you never want to sit too deep – or back a jockey or horse that likes to ride or run that way.

Major Meetings at Ripon

Meeting at Ripon Racecourse
Meeting at Ripon Racecourse (Steve Fareham / geograph.org.uk)

Ripon has added a lot of days and events to its racing calendar in recent years and the season now includes Ripon’s ‘Big Night Out’ and Family Day in May, Ladies’ Day in June and the opening day of Go Racing in Yorkshire in July. Other fixtures include Children’s Day and Great St Wilfrid Day, both of which take place in August.

One of the most prestigious races each year at Ripon is the Great St Wilfrid Stakes, which is named after the patron saint of Ripon. The winner of the 6f race receives a silver trophy featuring St Wilfrid himself mounted on horseback. There are 16 fixtures per year at Ripon, with another hugely important race being the 6f sprint Ripon Champion Two-Year-Old Trophy.

Dining and Hospitality

The hospitality boxes at Ripon are numbered 1-8 and vary in price due to their size and features. Prices for boxes start from £380, with the most expensive as much as £2,335. The capacity for boxes ranges from 16-100. More information can be found at the Ripon racecourse website.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches