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Chester Racecourse

Published on: 03/09/2016

Chester Racecourse is often called “The Roodee” and is thought to be the oldest active racecourse in England. It is situated in the city of Chester which is in the county of Cheshire. The racecourse is easily accessible due to the proximity of major road and rail networks. Its track is one of the shortest in the country, being approximately one mile long, and it is used solely for flat racing. Chester Racecourse offers 12 important racing events throughout its annual calendar, with the three-day May Festival and the traditional Chester Cup being particularly popular.

During the Roman era, the land on which Chester Racecourse is currently located was actually submerged under water from the nearby River Dee. In Medieval times, the city of Chester was a significant maritime port, but due to silting, the harbour’s water levels began to fall, revealing the land that is now known as the “Roodee Fields.” In 1539, under the reign of Henry VIII and with permission of the Lord Mayor of Chester, the first documented horse race took place at the site.

Until 1609, a Shrove Tuesday race was organized every February, after which, the race was rescheduled to occur on St. Georges Day every April. The Chester Goldsmith Company provided a silver bell as the prize - however, in 1744, the Grosvenor family replaced the prize by awarding a Gold Cup for the annual event.

The May Festival was inaugurated in 1766 and led to the start of the Chester Cup (then referred to as the Tradesmen’s Cup) in 1824. The Cup’s illustrious array of former winners includes Sea Pigeon who won back-to-back trophies in 1977 and 1978. In 1813, the Dee Stakes event was added to the May Festival. The race was named after the river and covered a length of a mile and a half. Between 1954 and 1982, the well known and very talented Lester Piggott rode in both events winning a total of nine times.

In 1817, Chester Racecourse obtained its first grandstand. In 1900, the grandstand structure was remodelled only to be rebuilt again in 1988 after it was razed to the ground by a fire in 1985. Other important races were added to the May Festival between 1907 and 1999 including the Chester Vase, the Ormonde Stakes, The Cheshire Oaks and the Huxley Stakes. The facility has been home to many different forms of entertainment over the years such as the 1903 Buffalo Bill and Geronimo Wild West Show, Circuses, Roman Festivals, Lord Mayor’s Parades, Military exhibitions and November firework displays.

The highly regarded May Festival at Chester Racecourse starts its flat racing season with Cup Day followed by Ladies Day and then City Day. The racing calendar goes on to host many prestigious events which lead up to the Chester Finale in September. The Totepool City Plate and the Chester Stakes are both highlights of the Totesport Summer Festival in August. There are various ticket options available.

The layout of the course provides a natural amphitheatre with clear views of the track, creating a special atmosphere. The Tattersalls Stand has an undercover terrace, standing room and entrance to the Paddock as well as access to the betting area, eateries and bars. The Leverhulme stand offers private boxes on the upper level and the County Bar on the ground. The County Stand is the property’s top-class enclosure and looks out onto the final furlong and the winning post. The stand also offers access to the parade ring and winner’s enclosure. Chester Racecourse commands a smart dress code with denim and sportswear being prohibited.

Chester Racecourse’s other facilities include the County Long Room, the County Concourse, with its luxurious Turf Restaurant, and the Dee Stand, which has extra viewing space and a bookmaker’s area. Opposite the Tattersalls Stand, punters will find the 1539 Restaurant which serves a traditional British menu which can be enjoyed whilst taking in the spectacular views.

Published on: 03/09/2016 © Bet Bind