Salisbury Racecourse

Address:
Salisbury Racecourse, Netherhampton, Wiltshire, SP2 8PN - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01722 326461
Salisbury Grandstand
Salisbury Grandstand (Peter Facey / geograph.org.uk)

Located in Wiltshire in the south west of England, Salisbury racecourse hosts around 15 race meetings each year between the months of May and October. Racing has been prominent in the city for a number of centuries, with meetings being held at the current course since the mid 16th century, making Salisbury one of the oldest racecourses still in use in the UK, or anywhere in the world for that matter. Located in a picturesque setting, the nearby valleys make for a tranquil and relaxing day out, where visitors can take in the fresh countryside air before a trip to one of the most aesthetically pleasing tracks in the country. In 1681, the Bibury club was formed and is officially the oldest horse racing club in the world. In 1899, Salisbury joined the club, with an annual race – The Bibury Handicap – taking place, honouring and recognising the support of the company.

The course is located just four miles south of the city centre so is very easily accessible for those that are travelling by car. Drivers are encouraged to take the A360 to Salisbury and follow the signposts directing the way to the racecourse, where free parking is available for all visitors. For those opting to travel by train, Salisbury railway station is three miles from the racecourse and is frequented by services from London Waterloo, with regular bus services to the track in operation on race days, whilst taxis are also available.

Ticket Prices

Tickets for race days at Salisbury are available in three different price categories, all allowing entry into a particular enclosure. Access to the Bibury enclosure is most expensive, priced at £23, whilst entry to the grandstand and paddock enclosures are available for as little as £15.

The course enclosure is the most affordable and popular entrance, with customers able to access the racing from here for just £8. Customers under the age of 16 are allowed access to all enclosures free of charge provided they are with by a full paying adult and can provide age ID should it be requested.

The Course

Salisbury Track
Salisbury Track (Toby / geograph.org.uk)

Salisbury exclusively holds flat racing with two adjacent courses, each specialising in different types of races. The straight course is one mile in length and has a steady incline throughout the final four furlongs. Facing a considerable gradient for so long, Salisbury can offer a challenging test of stamina especially for early-season two-year-olds.

In races more than a mile long, horses will essentially run ‘backwards’ to start with, running in the opposite direction to normal around the course, before taking the loop which turns them round and allows them to use the straight course as normal. The loop itself is especially tight so taking it wide will see horse surrender considerably amounts of time, particularly after rainfall as it can get a little slippy underfoot.

One Mile Races Buck the Trend

You can look at five, six, or seven furlong races at Salisbury and you’ll struggle to find any meaningful evidence of draw bias anywhere. Despite not being a fully straight course, those further from the slight turn have not been at any disadvantage when looking at data between September 2009 and 2019. The fact that there’s nothing to see over these shorter distances makes it all the more odd that there’s such a distinct bias in one mile contests, which are run on exactly the same course.

In one mile contests featuring at least eight horses, mid-drawn runners have excelled far more than averages would allow. Across 83 races, those starting in a central stall won 43 of them, with high drawn picks triumphing 26 times and low drawn just 14 times. Backing all the mid-drawn runners in this time with £1 bets would’ve pocketed you a tasty £89 profit, a +31% return on investment. As 83 races isn’t the largest sample size, there’s a chance the bias may not hold over time but in the near future it’s definitely something to bear in mind when placing your bets and assessing the value.

Pace on the Slow Side

With such a long uphill finish, there’s no danger of there being any record-breaking times clocked at Salisbury. Managing to run five furlongs in under a minute is quite the big feat, such is the testing nature of the course.

Any races a mile and under are particularly steadily run as they don’t have any downhill section at all like they do in the longer events. The result of this is that hold-up horses perform much better here than they would do in most other courses.

A look at the results of 5f handicaps reveals that horses that are held up had a strike rate of 9.1%, the joint fourth best in the country. For front runners, however, Salisbury is one of the worst places in Britain, with only six courses proving worse destinations for prominent runners.

These findings come as little surprise as you’ll often see early pace setters beginning to tire as they make the long climb to the line. Finishes don’t come too much testing than here so horses that have patiently conserved their energy can often end up gaining several places late on.

Major Meetings at Salisbury

Meeting at Salisbury
Meeting at Salisbury (Jonathan Kington / geograph.org.uk)

One of the most prestigious races held at Salisbury is the Sovereign Stakes, which has been contested every August since 2000 and is run over a distance of exactly one mile. No horse has won the race more than once, with the 2014 winner being taken by jocky James Doyle, who rode to success on Captain Cat. It is one of the two highest-class races run at Salisbury, alongside the Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes, which was established in 1988.

The Stakes is run over 6f each September and has a prize purse of more than £40,000. The 2014 winner was Jim Crowley on New Providence. Another important race at Salisbury is the Stonehenge Stakes, run over a mile each August since 2009. The most recent winner was David Probert on Elm Park. Other important races at Salisbury include the Cathedral Stakes and the Upavon Fillies’ Stakes.

Dining and Hospitality

Salisbury has a fine range of eating and drinking options, from a variety of bars, stands and buffet areas for general race-goers, through to more formal options including the Conservatory and the Moonraker Restaurant. The latter has a capacity of 130, with tables seating up to 12 and a three-course meal with complimentary afternoon tea and a racecard costs £50.

The Conservatory is smaller, with a capacity of just 36 (and eight at an individual table) and the same menu is priced at £55, the slightly higher cost explained by the more intimate nature of the room and the fact that it offers views of the parade ring. Note that neither of these options includes your entry into the racecourse.

In addition to these two lounges there is the option to hire a private suite, with a variety of rooms available, almost all with private balconies. Contact the racecourse for further details on these and other VIP options.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches