Lingfield Park is a unique racecourse in Britain as it hosts all three types of racing under rules and so is in operation all year round. Situated in the picturesque surroundings of the Surrey/Sussex border and boasting its own hotel, there are fewer more pleasant days at the races than a trip to Lingfield.
Lingfield Park is a rarity in that it provides accommodation on site via a purpose-built hotel. It is one of the very few options within walking distance of the racecourse but Lingfield is within comfortable driving distance of some beautiful hotels in both Surrey and Sussex.
Stay on Site
More than just a racecourse, Lingfield Park styles itself as a resort. The on-site Lingfield Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club is a major part of the resort. Not only does the four star hotel have over 100 rooms for racegoers and other attendees but it is also home to a leisure centre and swimming pool and a host of business and conference facilities.
Being able to stay right on the site of a race meeting is a rare opportunity for racing fans. The plush hotel also provides a base for those who want to turn a trip to the racing into an extended stay, whether that’s exploring the surrounding countryside, playing at Lingfield Park Golf Club or just relaxing and making the most of the hotel’s facilities. In addition, there are ample business facilities and the excellent Cyprium Bar and Grill.
Other Local Options
As good as Lingfield Park Marriott Hotel is, it is not a cheap option. Happily, there is more than one choice for those who want to stay close to the racecourse. The Star Inn is situated in Lingfield itself, less than a mile away from the racecourse. It’s a three star bed and breakfast on top of a cracking pub and is a popular option for racegoers.
For a much more relaxing experience, head south of the racecourse to Claridge House. Marketed as a retreat, Claridge House is a great place to stay for those who have had their fill of hustle, bustle and noise during a day of racing. Alternatively there are camping and glamping options to the west of Lingfield Park at Long Acres which is best in the summer months for obvious reasons.
Surrey is full of high-class country hotels, retreats and spas. If you are thinking of having a week away with a bit of racing thrown in at Lingfield Park, heading to one of the surrounding villages is a great way to enjoy yourself. Another option is taking out a holiday rental down one of the many quiet country lanes, with Airbnb and other holiday let websites featuring several hosts.
About the Racecourse
Lingfield Park is just to the south of the village of Lingfield in Surrey. The course is around 24 miles to the south of London. Its proximity to the capital and to various towns with good commuter links help make Lingfield such a popular venue for racing fans. The easiest way for drivers to get to Lingfield is to plug RH7 6PQ into their satnavs. From the north, the route will take drivers to Junction 6 of the M25, from which Lingfield is just a 15-minute drive. Those coming from the south will have a similar length drive from Junction 10 of the M23.
If catching the train to the racing is more your thing then somewhat unsurprisingly you should aim for Lingfield train station. The station is in the centre of the village leaving just a five-minute walk to the course. Trains run direct to Lingfield from London Victoria which is on the London Underground for commuters who have come into the capital from other parts of the country.
It is not rare for the Lingfield Park Marriot or the racecourse to have international visitors. Their journey to Lingfield either takes in a quick run around the M25 from Heathrow or a much shorter journey from Gatwick which is 10 miles from the course. The most well off owners looking to get in and out as quickly as possible can land helicopters directly on the racecourse. It’s alright for some!
The ground staff at Lingfield have their work cut out keeping on top of the maintenance of three different tracks. Starting with the Flat turf track and the first thing to note is that it is flat in name only. The Derby and Oaks Trials at Lingfield are so popular because the undulating nature of the course prepares horses for the sort of test they get at Epsom. That is most pronounced coming downhill to the sharp final turn on the round course before the closing straight. Even the straight course has a pronounced downhill section which can easily throw less nimble horses off balance.
The all-weather track at Lingfield is Polytrack which was first laid in 2011 and then relaid in 2012. It sits inside the turf track and thus has much the same topography. Half of the left-handed course is flat but horses must first climb a hill and then descend it coming into the sharp final turn. It is very much a course for speedy, well-balanced horses as stamina is not an important attribute.
As you might have come to expect by now, the turf jumps course at Lingfield is also undulating in nature. Coping with the various rises and falls is the main challenge for jumps horses as the fences are relatively easy. Lingfield does often pose a real test of stamina for National Hunt races though as the ground gets soft very easily. In fact, no course has more jumps meetings abandoned in an average year than Lingfield.
Racecourses up and down Britain understand the importance of comfort to racegoers. Lingfield is one of those courses that does not impose a strict dress code for most of the course in an attempt to ensure that nobody is put off from a day at the races. While they prefer smart casual attire, Lingfield Park won’t turn anybody away with a general admission ticket for their choice of clothing (within reason).
Lingfield does have higher standards of dress for their hospitality packages. Men are required to wear a shirt (although ties are optional) and, while there is more leeway for women, they are advised to dress appropriately for the weather.
General admission tickets to Lingfield Park come with access to the main grandstand. These tickets come with a very good view of the finishing straight of all three courses and access to a whole host of food and drink options. While Lingfield has a lot of choice for racegoers, it’s not set on a sprawling site which makes finding somewhere to eat, drink and watch the racing nice and easy. It also means only short walks to areas like the pre-parade ring, betting facilities and the popular Paddock Lawn.
Lingfield operates different hospitality options depending on the size of the day’s racing. The options include the Trackside Restaurant which boats panoramic views of the course and a private table, the Premier Viewing Lounge which is on the first floor and thus provides better views of the course, and individual suites which are perfect for those looking to entertain guests.
Lingfield holds the distinction of being the only racecourse in the United Kingdom to hold all three types of racing (Flat, National Hunt and all-weather). The course takes advantage of this by holding some high calibre meetings across the three codes of racing. As time has gone on the all-weather racing has grown in prominence, although the All Weather Championships were moved from Lingfield to Newcastle in 2021.
The best Flat races at Lingfield are the Derby and Oaks Trials held in early May while the Winter Derby is the biggest meeting on the Polytrack. The National Hunt racing has traditionally been of a lower calibre at Lingfield but the course hope that will change with the new Winter Million meeting and its mixture of jumps and Flat turf racing.
The Winter Derby is one of just two Group races held at Lingfield and one of four Group races held on the all-weather in Britain. The 1m2f race is supported by big names from Flat racing with Frankie Dettori riding his fourth winner in 2020 and John Gosden taking it increasingly seriously. Decent weather cannot be guaranteed in March but a good day out can be at Lingfield for all who attend the Winter Derby.
Derby and Oaks Trials
The Epsom Derby and Oaks are two of the biggest Flat races in the world. Every trainer wants their horse to be well prepared ahead of their trip to Epsom and the Lingfield Derby and Oaks Trials do a great job in that regard. The Flat track at Lingfield poses a real challenge to the horses including a tight corner much like the one found at Epsom, so these two Listed races are a great way for connections to see if their horses are up to the task. The Derby and Oaks Trials meeting is supported by the Group 3 Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes, a seven furlong contest for fillies and mares aged three and older.
All Weather Vase Day
The blow of the move of the All Weather Championships from Lingfield to Newcastle was softened with the creation of the new All Weather Vase Day. Like the Championships, the races on Vase Day are open to qualifiers who have earned their place in the various fields with their performances earlier in the season. The new meeting stays on Good Friday, when the All Weather Championships traditionally took place at Lingfield.
Winter Million Meeting
Arena Racing Company, the owners of Lingfield Park, made a raft of changes to the racing calendar at their courses ahead of 2022. The creation of the new Winter Million Meeting in January was one such addition with the aim of boosting the quality of jumps and Flat turf racing at Lingfield. The new three-day meeting features a day of Flat, racing including the new Coral Winter Oaks, sandwiched in between two days of quality jumps racing. This makes it rather unique on the British calendar and it is hoped that this will help it become a popular fixture.
Lingfield Park was established in 1890 and immediately received support from the upper echelons of society as the Prince of Wales opened the new venue and allowed the course to use the Prince of Wales feathers, which remain part of the course’s branding to this day. For the first four years of its operation, Lingfield was used exclusively for jumps racing before meetings on the Flat began in 1894. It was the Flat that really helped increase the profile of Lingfield in the 20th century with the Derby Trial Stakes introduced in 1932 and the Oaks Trial following soon after.
1987: Golf Course Constructed Nearby
Lingfield’s growth continued smoothly until WWII when the War Office requisitioned the course. Much of the site was used to hold Italian prisoners of war while the home straight was given over to the Home Guard who practiced for attacks and marches. The first move to make Lingfield Park more than just a racecourse came in 1987 when the owners constructed a golf course in nearby parkland.
UK’s First Artificial Track
At the same time, the course applied for planning permission to install the UK’s first artificial race track. Construction on the Equitrack surface began in 1988 and it was opened on 16 November 1989. This new track was revolutionary but it wasn’t exactly loved, so trainers, owners and jockeys were all delighted when a much-improved Polytrack surface was installed in 2001.
The Polytrack was paid for by Arena Leisure PLC (later to be Arena Racing Company). They also ploughed a lot of money into Lingfield between 2002 and 2004 with upwards of £5.5 million spent on the main grandstand and other facilities for racegoers. Further investment took place a few years later when the four-star Marriot Hotel was constructed on the site at Lingfield. The hotel opened in May of 2010.