Sandown Park Racecourse

Address:
Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher, Surrey, KT10 9AJ - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01372 463072
Sandown Park
Sandown Park (Brendan and Ruth McCartney / geograph.org.uk)

Sandown Park racecourse is located in Esher in Surrey and was one of the first courses to charge entry to all spectators attending. The track first opened in 1875 and the first meeting featured the Grand National Hunt Chase, which is now held at the Cheltenham Festival. Despite being famous for hosting racing, Sandown Park is also the home to many non-racing events, such as trade shows, wedding fairs and auctions. It has also hosted concerts for famous bands and musicians, including Girls Aloud, Madness and Westlife. Facilities at Sandown Park include a wedding reception suite, karting track, an 18 hole golf course and a dry ski slope, as well as offering fantastic views of Heathrow Airport and famous London landmarks such as Wembley Stadium, Canary Wharf and the London Eye.

The closest railway station to Sandown Park is Esher, which is located just down the road and is less than a mile away and is frequently served by trains from London Waterloo. Those travelling by car are encouraged to leave the M25 at J10 and take the A3 towards London. From there take the A307 and follow the signs to the racecourse.

Ticket Prices

Ticket prices come in two bands at Sandown Park. Access to the Premier Enclosure starts from just £22, whilst entry to the Grandstand is available for as little as £13.50. Customers under the age of 18 are allowed free entry to the course when accompanied by a full paying adult, although some identification may be required.

The Course

Sandown Park Racecourse
Sandown Park Racecourse (Rob Farrow / geograph.org.uk)

Sandown Park accommodates both flat and National Hunt races. Flat races are run right-handed over a course that is oval in shape and measures 1m5f in circumference. The run-in is 4f long and features a gradual incline before levelling off close to the winning post. Unlike at most other racing venues, the straight sprint course cuts diagonally through the longer course and only hosts sprints 5f in length. The main flat course is used for hurdles racing in the winter with six hurdles moved onto the circuit.

The steeplechase course at Sandown is slightly longer than the flat one, measuring at 1m5½f. It too includes a largely uphill home straight and although the run-in isn’t overly long, it can be very demanding, especially on softer ground.

Sandown is even more demanding from a jumping perspective though, with 11 fences in total including two open ditches and one water jump. Seven obstacles are laid out down the back straight, the distances between them varying, with the final three jumps coming in quick succession and posing a fairly tough challenge. It’s easy for inexperienced runners to lose their rhythm as a result but even so casualty rates remain quite low.

Sprint Course Not Like the Rest

As the sprint course completely intersects the round circuit at Sandown, it’s a track offering a completely different test with characteristics all of its own. Uphill the entire way, sprinters don’t tend to post their quickest times here and front running tactics are far less successful that the norm.

Out of 119 front runners in five furlong handicaps at Sandown, only 13 ended up winning, giving a winning rate of just 10.9%, the fourth worst in the country. The early pace does not hold up well here due to the steep nature of the track so don’t lose faith if your horse finds themselves behind in the opening few furlongs. If they are preserving energy for the sapping climb to come they might still be able to deliver the goods.

The five furlong sprint course is also the only place where there’s any bias. There’s virtually no difference between the strike rates of horses drawn low, mid or high across seven and eight furlongs – both of which take place on the oval circuit.

Findings from the short sprints, however, tell us that there must be better ground towards the inside as low drawn horses have a winning rate double that of high drawn horses. In races with at least eight horses between September 2009 and August 2019, low drawn runners won 14% of the time compared to just 8% for mid and 7% for those on the opposite side.

An Elite Jumping Test

As mentioned earlier on, Sandown is a difficult place to jump well at due to the frequency and positioning of the fences. Jockeys may nail the first jump down the back straight but this does not mean they’ll hit the rest right, often quite the opposite. As conditions don’t get as testing here as on the hurdles course, the there’s a little more emphasis on speed and that includes taking the jumps quickly, which can, of course, lead to mistakes.

Not just a challenge for the horses, jockeys also face a real test of their abilities too. Their positioning around the final bend can make or break their chances and they also need to keep their mounts focussed during the run-in.

Horses that find themselves alone can have a tendency to wander, unsure of which direction they should be heading. One jockey who was so often up to the Sandown test was the legendary A P McCoy. His strike rate here was an excellent 23% and his level stakes profit of 55.42 highlights how often he won when he really shouldn’t have.

Major Meetings at Sandown Park

Sandown Park Racecourse
Sandown Park Racecourse (Stephen Craven / geograph.org.uk)

Sandown Park hosts one of Britain’s Group 1 flat races – the Eclipse Stakes. The Stakes was established in 1886 and is run over a distance of 1m2f and 7y each year, generally in early July. The race was named after a famous race horse and at the time of its inception it was Britain’s richest race.

Five separate horses have won the race twice, whilst jockey Lester Piggott has won it seven times, the most recent of which was back in 1977. Other important races run annually at Sandown include the Henry II Stakes, the Sandown Mile, the Celebration Stakes and the Contenders Hurdle.

Dining and Hospitality

In terms of corporate hospitality and private boxes, like many British racetracks, Sandown offers three packages – bronze, silver and gold. Bronze prices start from £105, with silver and gold options starting from £130 and £200 respectively. There are also three restaurant packages available for the impressive Equus restaurant which is situated overlooking the finishing line.

The cheapest of those is the Kauto Star package, with prices starting from £69. The Sadler’s Wells package and the Arkle package are available from £95 and £170 respectively. All prices stated are per person.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches