Warwick Racecourse

Address:
Hampton Street, Warwick, Warwickshire, CV34 6HN - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01926 491553
Entrance to Warwick Racecourse
Entrance to Warwick Racecourse (Robin Stott / geograph.org.uk)

The original stand at Warwick was first built in the early 19th century but due to investment and popularity it has gone under intensive refurbishment over the years. Warwick used to host both National Hunt and flat races, but as of 2015 will host only jumps races. Warwick racecourse is situated right in the centre of town and is just a few hundred metres from the walls of Warwick Castle, making for a spectacular setting.

It is among the oldest horse racing locations in the entire UK, with racing records going back as far as the early 18th century. During the Second World War, Warwick racecourse was turned into a camp for Italian prisoners of war. Many of the features of the old fashioned, traditional buildings at the course have been preserved to align with the character and ambience of the setting, whilst a recent £3m refurbishment created new hospitality facilities within the main grandstand.

For those travelling to Warwick by car, the racecourse is incredibly accessible from all directions via the M40, M42, M5 and M6. The course itself is located just off the A429. Alternatively, Warwick railway station is just one mile away from the course and is frequently served by trains from London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill with walking or a short taxi recommended to reach the course itself.

Ticket Prices

Access to the main enclosure is available for adults for just £18, with substantial group discounts available for large numbers of people that book online together. Those visiting that are under the age of 18 will be granted access to the course free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult, subject to the provision of identification and proof of age (especially for older children).

The Course

Warwick spent many years as a dual-purpose course but the 1m 6f flat course hasn’t hosted racing since back in August 2014. Remaining as the sole active track now is the one exclusively used for National Hunt action.

As it sits on the inside of the old flat course, it comes in a little shorter at 1m 5f in circumference. For steeplechases, there are 10 fences per circuit, with five of them coming in quick succession along the back straight making for a tough finish. However, despite the challenge this provides, fallers at Warwick are surprisingly rare.

On the hurdles course, runners take on six flights each lap with two positioned down the home stretch, as with steeplechases making for a testing finish. Both courses feature a short run-in as a result, so jockeys usually launch their attacks well before the final jump. Although largely flat, there is a fairly steep climb soon after the winning post which gradually descends towards the back straight. Despite what is quite a lengthy back straight, Warwick is considered a sharp course thanks to the tightness of its bends so in general more nimble sorts should be preferred.

Artful Lady Tragedy Sparks End of Flat Racing

The odd faller during National Hunt racing is part and parcel of the sport but what you don’t expect are fallers during flat racing. The tightness of Warwick’s corners long posed a risk for flat runners as the speed the horses took them at put them in danger of slipping as they turned.

After taking a tumble on the course and breaking his wrist in the process, Ryan Moore spoke out about this exact issue. Although most criticism prior had been levelled at the round track, Moore also raised safety concern about the straight sprint course.

Two years after Moore’s fall, Warwick witnessed a tragedy as Artful Lady, ridden by Jordan Vaughan, slipped up during a Class 6 contest run at a good crack on good to firm going. The incident sadly resulted in the death of the mare and although racing continued briefly, organisers soon opted to abandon the remaining card, deeming it unsafe for horse and jockey. The aftermath of this saw Warwick lose four scheduled flat racing fixtures and resulted in them becoming a purely National Hunt venue starting from the following season.

Although it is no longer used, the former flat course at Warwick was run left-handed over a distance of 1m6f. There were also three separate chute starts available for the commencement of short races going up to 1m2f in length. High drawn horses tended to have a statistical advantage when the going was soft to heavy. In terms of the National Hunt track, it is also run left-handed and sits inside the old flat course so is slightly shorter, run around a circuit measuring 1m5f in circumference.

The steeplechase course consists of ten obstacles with two plain fences positioned in the home straight. Although the course features tight bends, the width of the track makes the course suitable for all types of runners, although more experienced horses may have an advantage by taking the sharper inside track. The hurdles course has just six fences, two of which are located prior to the winning post in the home straight.

Major Meetings at Warwick

Grandstand at Warwick Racecourse
Grandstand at Warwick Racecourse (Robin Stott / geograph.org.uk)

As of 2014, Warwick racecourse held around 25 race meetings each year, many of which featured on television, although this number is expected to reduce significantly as of 2015 due to the abandonment of Warwick from the flat racing calendar. 2015 will see Warwick stage 17 jumps fixtures and it hopes to become of the “best small jumps courses in the UK” over the next five years.

Warwick will no longer host flat race meetings due to the death of a horse in May 2014. The remaining four flat racing fixtures scheduled for Warwick that year were moved elsewhere, before the decision was made to scrap the programme altogether due to concerns about the surface on one of the turns.

Dining and Hospitality

Warwick Racecourse Jumps
Warwick Racecourse Jumps (Robin Stott / geograph.org.uk)

In terms of private hospitality options at Warwick, there are four separate price categories, all varying in menu, drinks options and quality. The most affordable option is bronze, which starts at £75 + VAT per person, with silver priced at £90 + VAT per person. Gold and platinum options are available from £110 + VAT and £140 + VAT per person respectively but these prices are also subject to variation according to the specific meeting.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches