Towcester Racecourse

Address:
London Road, Towcester, Northamptonshire, NN12 6LB - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01327 353414
Towcester Racecourse Grandstand
Towcester Racecourse Grandstand (Oliver Hunter / geograph.org.uk)

Located in Northamptonshire, racing has been taking place on the current course at Towcester since it opened, way back in 1928. It has been regularly modernised and was recently completely rebuilt, at a substantial cost of £7.5m. Part of the restructure of the course included the addition of a greyhound-racing track, which was installed directly in the centre of the current horseracing circuit. Greyhound racing at Towcester predominantly occurs during the evening and never coincides with horse racing meetings.

Towcester racecourse is situated just a mile from Towcester town centre and can easily be accessed by car. Those driving are encouraged to exit the M1 at J15A and follow signs to the racecourse from the town centre. Travelling by train isn’t as easy, with Northampton the nearest station more than nine miles from the course. Northampton has links with London Euston and Birmingham New Street and there is a taxi rank outside the station, so Towcester is generally accessible from most areas for those happy to take a taxi to the course.

Ticket Prices

For paid events, general admission is £10 for adults with under 16s allowed entry free of charge, subject to possible proof of age requirements. However, as detailed below, most meetings at Towcester are free entry, making it a great option for families and those on a budget.

The Course

Towcester is exclusively a National Hunt track and racing here is undertaken right-handed over a distance of 1m6f on a course that is almost square in shape. Due to the extremely sharp bends at the course and the long, uphill finish, races at Towcester are generally very entertaining, often with unexpected results. This may not be the fairest or most predictable course but it makes for great racing!

The steeplechase course consists of nine fences, two of which are positioned down the home straight. There’s a short-run in as a result and one which also features the entrance to the stables, a distracting sight for some horses. On the chase course, the obstacles themselves aren’t overly stiff with high causality rates instead a result of tiredness and the fences riding big on heavy ground. The hurdles course has six flights, again with two fences located prior to the winning post.

Stamina Proves Crucial

On good ground, horses usually last the trip at Towcester pretty well but that is far from the case when things are a little softer. Any horse that exerts too much energy in the early stages quickly ends up fading away on a course that almost appears uphill all the way around.

Of course this can’t be true but the final mile is most definitely on an incline, providing a real gruelling finish for any tiring thoroughbred. Across this section, making up any ground on soft or heavy going can be a particularly punishing task and so jockeys really can’t afford to hang too far behind should a stayer be leading the charge.

By holding racing throughout the winter months, it’s common that the emphasis is on lasting the trip at Towcester. It makes it an ideal destination for slower horses with the pace sometimes so steady you wonder if the horses will even manage to clear the fences. Those that plod along from start to finish can often end up winning by handsome margins with their competitors simply running out of steam at what can be such a testing place to race.

Financial Issues at Towcester - Update September 2019

The future of racing at Towcester was thrown into major doubt in August 2018 as debts of £1.3m forced course directors to place the company under administration. Redundancies of more than 130 staff immediately followed, with just three members kept to help the administrators find a buyer. The search for a buyer did not go on for too long with local company Fermor Land LLP, linked to Lord Hesketh, acquiring their assets in November the same year.

The newly formed company, based in Milton Keynes, led by Lord Hesketh’s brother-in-law, Anthony Henry Westropp, was one of 26 interested parties in Towcester Racecourse and one of four to put in an offer. There was initially some hope of a fairly speedy return, as early as May 2019, but with no racing licence application submitted, fixtures normally held at the course were reallocated elsewhere.

The British Horseracing Authority, however, avoided reallocating the 10 fixtures usually assigned to the track in the 2020 fixtures list as they confirmed they were in discussion with the track’s new owners.

By withholding the meetings the Northamptonshire venue historically held, there is a chance racing will soon return to the menu at Towcester. Things remain very much up in the air though as failure to get their affairs in order in time will simply see the 10 fixtures dished out to other racecourses once again.

Major Meetings at Towcester

Easton Neston Gate at Towcester Racecourse
Easton Neston Gate at Towcester Racecourse (tristan forward / geograph.org.uk)

From 2002, entry to all race days was free of charge and attendances increased dramatically as a result. In 2006, Towcester started charging entry for the two most popular events of the year – Boxing Day and Easter Sunday – whilst all remaining race days have remained free of charge. Towcester generally hosts around 18 days of racing each calendar year.

Dining and Hospitality

Towcester Racecourse
Towcester Racecourse (David Hillas / geograph.org.uk)

As part of the extreme remodelling of the entire course, Towcester put a lot of time into making sure the corporate dining and hospitality areas were on a par with rival courses and ensured visitors were getting their money’s worth when they housed race day guests in private hospitality suites. In terms of private boxes, Towcester offers four different price ranges, each with varying food and drinks menus and additional benefits, and able to cater to the needs of all customers.

The lowest priced suite is the Pomfret Suite, which is available for as little as £50 per person, with the next cheapest option being the Paddock Marquees, which are trackside so allow guests the benefits of being up close to the racing action whilst staying comfortable and well fed in a relaxed environment. The Empress Suite is priced at £75 per person, with the most expensive area available being the Private Suite, which starts from £110 per person. All menus and other luxury benefits that come with corporate hospitality, as well as any other information required, can be found by contacting the racecourse directly.

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