Traditionally, jump racing only takes place during the autumn and winter months but you will find it spread out across the entire calendar at Market Rasen Racecourse. Its keen appetite for National Hunt racing has seen it develop a reputation as one of the best summer jumps race venues in the country. This is something the Racehorse Owners Association would seem to agree with as they frequently name Market Rasen as being worthy of their Gold Standard award.
If you do not fancy driving back home after a day (or evening) at the races then you will be in need of a place to stay. Despite being a rurally located town, with only a few thousand inhabitants, the hotel situation for any racegoers could be a lot worse.
In the centre of Market Rasen you will find the White Swan, the Advocate Arms Hotel and the Limes Hotel. All three are within walking distance of the racecourse, taking you about 20 to 25 minutes on foot. None are remotely tricky to find either as all are situated on the main road that runs through the middle of town.
Lincoln for More to Do
If you want to stay overnight somewhere with more going on, or even someplace to spend a day after/before a race meeting, Lincoln is the closest option. You can get a bus or train directly to the cathedral city which features numerous hotels. In the city centre, you have big names, such as Hilton, Holiday Inn (including Holiday Inn Express), and Travelodge. There are some much-loved independent choices too though, for instance, the Duke William Hotel, the Tower Hotel and the White Hart Hotel.
Cleethorpes: A Summer Option
Although it is a little further than Lincoln, the seaside town of Cleethorpes is another fairly local option offering much more to do. During the winter months, it is perhaps not such an appealing idea but for any summer fixture, tying in a trip to the beach has its benefits. Cleethorpes offers a very traditional seaside experience, with plenty of sand, but one that does not break the bank. It is not possible to get here on a direct train from Market Rasen but you can get to Grimsby, which is all but a stone’s throw away.
About the Racecourse
Should you ever find yourself in the mood for some National Hunt racing but want to avoid huge queues and gigantic crowds, Market Rasen is a great option. It fully deserves its reputation as one of the best small racecourses in the country and its friendly feel sees it attract a wide range of patrons. For anyone looking for a family day out, we can recommend attending any of the Family Fun Days held across the year. For these there is plenty of entertainment to keep the little ones happy and you can even bring your own picnic along too.
Conveniently for public transport users, Market Rasen Racecourse does have its own train station which sees several trains pass per day. The station is one of the stops on the Leicester to Grimsby route which also stops at the likes of Lincoln, Nottingham and Loughborough. For both directions, trains leave approximately every two hours but note there are fewer services on Sundays. It is also possible to hop on the 53 bus service that runs between Grimsby and Lincoln.
If getting the train to Market Rasen, the station itself is a touch over a mile from the racecourse meaning you will be 20 to 25 minutes away on foot. Many do indeed choose to walk this but if you would rather get a taxi, you will need to book one in advance. For anyone preferring to drive to the course, it is only a few minutes from the A46, which connects Lincoln and Grimsby, and it is well signposted along the way. For all meetings, there is a plentiful supply of free parking practically facing the racecourse gates.
Although you will struggle to get too lost inside the racecourse, you can download a fully interactive map of the venue via the Jockey Club app. By using this you can easily identify the location of bars, restaurants, toilets and so on. so it can be particularly useful for first-timers or those that have not attended in a long time.
Market Rasen is known for being quite a speedy course, especially in the summer. For meetings in the warmer months, the ground is usually quick and the course itself is relatively flat, lacking any stamina-sapping climbs. Given that the fences are seen as quite easy too, horses can end up flying around the track, making it difficult for those at the back to make up any ground late on.
If your selected horse is not particularly close as the leaders go around the final right-handed bend, we would say your bet does not stand much chance at all. The home straight is a long one though so for those at the front, the lead can change hands several times in the closing stages. As such, you will still see plenty of exciting finishes at Market Rasen.
In the Tattersalls and Lawn Enclosure, there are few rules on clothing as this is the more casual part of the course. Singlets and bare tops are strictly prohibited but everything else (within reason) is fair game and this includes fancy dress providing it is not likely to cause offence. You will see plenty of people dressed casually in this part of the course but less so at feature meetings as smart casual is encouraged for these.
In the County Enclosure, you need to be a bit more mindful of your clothing choices as this is Market Rasen’s premium area. Gentlemen must come with a collared shirt and this would normally be accompanied by smart trousers and formal shoes. A jacket and tie, while not required, are encouraged. The guidance is less specific for the ladies but ‘wedding guest’ attire is the general aim. For feature meetings, hats are commonplace but not compulsory.
Regardless of gender, there are certain things you must avoid in the County Enclosure and these include sportswear, trainers, t-shirts, fancy dress, cargo shorts and ripped/torn denim. If you do wish to wear denim then jeans, in addition to having no rips/tears, should be dark.
Market Rasen technically only has one stand, but it has been split into two, divided by a rail. The side further down the home straight is the Tattersalls Grandstand and this is available to any Tattersalls Enclosure ticket holders. On the other side you have the County Grandstand, reserved for those who purchased a County Enclosure ticket. It is only if you purchase a Lawn Enclosure that you will lack access to a stand. You will not be completely exposed to the elements mind you as the Victor Lucas Bar will be at your disposal.
For quieter meetings, Market Rasen simply sells general admission tickets, giving you access to all parts of the course that are open. When this is the case, entrance usually costs just £12. When things are busier, you will have a choice of the three enclosures, which as a reminder are the Lawn Enclosure, the Tattersalls Enclosure and the County Enclosure.
As standard, prices for these are £12, £16 and £21 respectively for adults. Accompanied children under 18 years old receive free entry to most meetings. Pre-booking online is recommended to avoid disappointment however if you are a senior citizen (over 65) looking for a discounted day out, you can only claim a £5 reduction if you buy on the day at the main entrance.
You can usually tell if a meeting at Market Rasen will be busier based on the tickets available. If the only option is general admission then this will most likely be a much more low-key affair. More ticketing options means more people but out of these, there are some particular highlights. The Boxing Day meeting is the main star of the winter period and has been a staple of Market Rasen for many decades. With people arriving in a jolly mood following the previous day’s festivities, this is a fixture that will keep you warm despite the cold weather.
As for the summer, here the highlight is unquestionably Summer Plate Ladies Day, scheduled for mid-July. Not only does it feature Market Rasen’s highest-rated race, the Listed Summer Plate Handicap Chase, but it is also a major social occasion within the area. Many ladies choose to pick out their finest clothes for this meeting and prizes are up for grabs for those that dazzle the most. Usually, the top three ladies are all rewarded and the available goodies are exceedingly generous for a small racecourse.
In the period between 1828 and 1924, racing had taken place within the vicinity of Market Rasen but at various sites rather than having one permanent home. For the first half of this period, there was only ever one meeting per year but the creation of steeplechase racing saw another added in 1871. This fixture, held in the spring, is still going strong now.
Market Rasen United Hunts Steeplechases Limited
With demand for a permanent home growing, a suitable site was identified in Market Rasen down Willingham Road and this has been the home of racing in the town since. In charge of the new racecourse was the Market Rasen United Hunts Steeplechases Limited. This rather long name was chosen because Market Rasen was the meeting point for three local hunts (Brocklesby, Southwold and Burton). To enable racing, fifty acres of land was purchased while an additional fifty acres was rented for use on race days. When the company raised enough money, however, they were successful in buying out this rented land.
There have been many people that have been pivotal in the success of Market Rasen Racecourse over the years but none more so than Victor Lucas. In 1945, he took charge of running the course and did so until he passed away 26 years later. He had a specific vision for the course and played a key development in the layout of the track, as well as other facilities, such as the paddock, parade ring and stands.
Under the Lucas tenure, Market Rasen also expanded their fixture list, going from just three annual meetings to a very substantial 12. Most of these were run on Saturdays but there was one held on Easter Monday and another on Boxing Day. In Lucas’s final years, the course was sold to Racecourse Holding Trust, a subsidiary of the Jockey Club. Today, it is one of 15 courses under Jockey Club control.