Southwell Racecourse

Rolleston, Southwell, Nottinghamshire, NG25 0TS - Map & Directions
01636 814481
Stands at Southwell
Stands at Southwell (Jonathan Thacker /

Situated near Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, racing in Southwell dates back to the 19th century, although the first meeting at the current course wasn’t recorded until 1897. Southwell racecourse is one of only four courses in the UK to have an all-weather track and is the only one that features a fibre sand surface. The all-weather track opened in 1980 and due to the depth of the surface stamina is a big issue at Southwell. Racing takes place in every month of the year at Southwell, who expect to host over 70 days of racing each calendar year, with both flat and National Hunt featuring. Southwell racecourse has a strong affiliation with female jockey Hayley Turner, who grew up locally and had her first ever job at the racecourse before becoming a jockey.

Southwell racecourse is very accessible to all, whether driving or travelling by public transport. The nearest railway station is Rolleston, which is adjacent to the course and just a short walk away, making train travel a brilliant option. Rolleston station is on the Nottingham to Lincoln line, with frequent services to both stations. Those travelling by car should take the A617 towards Mansfield and Southwell, followed by the A612, where there will be signs directing drivers to the racecourse.

Ticket Prices

Standard ticket prices at Southwell allow customers entry to the grandstand enclosure for £12, whilst access to the premier enclosure is available for as little as £16. Visitors under the age of 18 are allowed entry to the course free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult: note that some identification/age verification may be required. Similarly, carers accompanying disabled customers are also allowed in for free.

The Course


Southwell’s ability to hold so many race meetings throughout the calendar comes thanks to having two separate courses on site. All flat racing now takes place on its all-weather course, the only one in the country to use fibresand.

Run left-handed over a distance of 1m2f, it also includes a chute that joins the home straight to produce a 5f sprint track. In part due to its configuration and in part due to the amount of kickback the fibresand creates, Southwell’s all-weather course is the perfect equivalent to your standard American dirt track.

On the inside of the all-weather flat course is a considerably tighter National Hunt course measuring around 1m in circumference. Seven portable fences are placed down the two long straights for steeplechases, while in hurdles events there are just the five flights. The hurdles themselves are of the brush-type variety so are less forgiving than most for less fluent jumpers. While always beautifully presented, conditions underfoot can change drastically depending on the time of year. In the summer months, the emphasis is firmly on speed but the complete opposite is true when the soft and heavy going arrives.

Be Wary of High Draws

It is hard to think why Southwell’s five-furlong straight course would have any bias but there is a definite, albeit not huge, advantage to those starting closest to the inside rail. Having taken a look at 308 races featuring eight or more runners, low drawn runners had a winning percentage of 13% compared to 9% for mid and 8% for high.

In terms of impact value, low drawn runners have a decent 1.28 rating with those on the opposite side just 0.84. This certainly isn’t the greatest bias we’ve seen but it’s definitely something worth taking note of.

For races that are six to eight furlongs in length, which start on the main circuit, the bias shifts from inside to outside. An examination of well over 400 races between late 2014 and now (August 2019) featuring 10+ runners shows high drawn runners won 11% of races while low drawn won 9%.

Despite having the slight advantage this time, high draws should still be approached with much caution due to their poor rates of return. They may have won more often but they post a -12% return on investment (ROI), or a -£192 outcome on a £1 level stakes bet. Low drawn horses on the other hand managed to score themselves a +4% ROI, equating to a tidy £58 level stakes net win.

Horses for Courses

As the only course in the country to offer racing on fibresand, Southwell offers horses a unique test. Those that take well to the surface and cope with the kickback, can end up being sent back here time and time again thanks to the sheer amount of scheduled racing.

This is exactly what David Champman did with his bay gelding Tempering who made an incredible 82 starts on Southwell’s all-weather surface, winning on 22 occasions. Course specialists are certainly worth looking out for and a previous win on fibresand is definitely worth taking into account.

Although Tempering takes the definition of course specialist to the absolute extreme, there have been many others who have been regulars of the fibresand course at Southwell. Kylkenny won 17 of 41 appearances here, boasting a monstrous level stakes net win of +89.02.

La Estrella is unable to flaunt a number anywhere near this big but he did win a very impressive 16 of his 21 starts, a strike rate of 76%. We could go on but by now it should be clear that there are some horses that absolutely relish Southwell’s all-weather test, so pay close attention to course form.

Major Meetings at Southwell

Southwell from Above
Southwell from Above (Chris /

As a relatively small racecourse, there are no major festivals or events that take place at Southwell on an annual basis. Despite this, there are a number of charity and sponsored race days throughout the year, particularly aimed at families and children in order to make the environment more family friendly and allow people of all ages to enjoy the experience.

In 2007, the Great Yorkshire Chase Hunt was held at Southwell because Doncaster was closed whilst it underwent redevelopment. Southwell itself was also closed temporarily in December 2012 when floods damaged the track and adjoining buildings, so scheduled meetings that were unable to take place were instead held at Wolverhampton and Lingfield. Whilst there are no huge events held here, over the winter period Southwell is one of the more active tracks and a good day out on a cold day.

Dining and Hospitality

Track at Southwell
Track at Southwell (Tom Courtney /

Hospitality suites at Southwell are available for between 10 and 50 guests and the package includes a racecard and four-course lunch. Prices start from £63 + VAT per person, whilst a separate restaurant package is available for just £48 per person.


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