The Berkshire-based Newbury Racecourse is one of the leading racing venues in the country. Although the independently run course does host a wide range of events and conferences throughout the year, it is its busy schedule of racing that makes it so popular. Across the entire calendar Newbury features an impressive 29 meetings, serving up both flat and jump racing. With many high class races taking place at these meetings, the modern and sleek facilities at Newbury are not the only thing you will be impressed by.
Although many people like to head to Newbury Racecourse for an afternoon, or evening, before popping home, there are those that like to save the journey till the day after and make it more of an occasion. Should this apply to you, we are glad to inform you that the racecourse has several affordable places to stay in the immediate vicinity as well as decent options further afield.
Within Walking Distance
Thanks to the racecourse’s proximity to the town centre, it is perfectly possible to stay at a hotel that is only a pleasant walk away from the racecourse. City centre hotels, such as yhe Elephant at the Market and the Hatchet Inn are located the closest, around a 15-minute walk away. Head a little further north, close to Victoria Park, and you will also find options, such as the Premier Inn Newbury Town Centre, Travelodge Newbury London Road and the Chequers. From here, the walk is a little longer, at 25 minutes, but it is a very pleasant stroll through Newbury.
Outskirts of Newbury
Dotted across Newbury, particularly on the edge of the wonderful North Wessex Downs, there is a substantial variety of other hotels, typically smaller in capacity but regularly loved by guests. North, west and south of the racecourse you can enjoy places, such as the White Hart Inn, the Furze Bush Inn, Donnington Valley Hall Hotel or for something a little more simplistic, the Travelodge Newbury Tot Hill. None of these options are within walking distance of the course but all are only a short drive away – anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes – so very doable in a taxi.
Reading for More Choice
Although Newbury, or the outskirts of Newbury, has around 15 to 20 hotels to choose from, you may find some of these are fully booked, or simply more expensive, when there is a big race meeting on. Should this happen your best bet is to look at what options there are in Reading. As the most well populated town in the UK, it is a place that has no shortage of places to sleep. Coming in all kinds of shapes and sizes, it is extremely easy to find a hotel to suit your needs and budget.
About the Racecourse
Newbury Racecourse has benefitted from a large degree of investment over the years. For this reason, the site regularly hosts large exhibitions and conferences, plus weddings of many sizes. What this means for any racegoer is that you have the benefit of some truly excellent facilities that you will not find at a lot of other courses. Despite the premium feel to the place, you do not need to break the bank to enjoy an afternoon (or evening) meeting at Newbury. Ticket prices, as we will discuss later on, are certainly not anywhere near the upper end of the scale in UK terms.
One other benefit of the racecourse is that it is easily accessed via public transport. This is partly because Newbury Racecourse has its own dedicated railway stop, the aptly named ‘Newbury Racecourse Station’, which is perfectly situated directly across the road from the track. Extra services run on racedays to help minimise overcrowding but note that for smaller meetings, only one route (Newbury to Reading) stops here. If you are coming from further away though, you can simply get a train to Newbury’s main station and then change trains or walk the 15 to 20 minutes to the racecourse. Newbury station is served by trains coming from the likes of Reading, London Paddington and Exeter St David’s.
If arriving by car, note that there is now a road bridge over the railway line towards on the east side of the course and a subsequent new road layout. Traffic approaching from the east, west or north via the M4 (junctions 12 or 13) are best to travel along the A4 and follow the signs to the racecourse before entering via Hambridge Road. For racegoers visiting from the south, use the A339 and again follow signs which will allow you to enter via Racecourse Road.
Parking at Newbury is free of charge but as there are five different parking areas, ensure you head towards the correct one. Car Park 1 is reserved for Premier Enclosure ticketholders while Car Park 4 is for Premier and Grandstand Enclosure ticket holders. Car Park 5 is overflow parking, which may be opened for busier meetings.
Any jockey or trainer will be quick to tell you that Newbury is an incredibly fair course so should their horse lose, it is rare for them to have any real complaints. Flat races of up to a mile long take place on a long straight track while longer races begin on the left-handed round course. The same shape is in operation for the jumps racing course, which again has a reputation for being very fair so upsets are less likely here than elsewhere. As it is a rather undemanding course too, and one that attracts a high calibre of horse, fallers here are not a common sight.
Another interesting thing to note about the course is that on the turn following the finishing post there are a few large, modern looking buildings close to the outside rail. These have nothing to do with the racecourse, however, they are simply residential homes that were built when the racecourse sold a plot of their land for a rather tidy £42m in 2012. Not a bad place to live for any keen racing fan!
Newbury has kept their dress code nice and straightforward so there should never be any confusion over what is acceptable to wear. In the Grandstand Enclosure & Racegoers Restaurant, the only things prohibited are ripped or torn denim, sportswear and bare chests (sorry ladies). Fancy dress is permitted but it must be in good taste.
In the Premier Enclosure and hospitality suites, typically people come in smart attire and gents are asked to come wearing a collared shirt (tie optional). Smart denim and tailored shorts are acceptable in these areas but sportswear, ripped denim, denim shorts, vests, tracksuits, sandals and flip flops are not. The rules above apply to anyone in attendance over the aged over 12. There is no dress code for children younger than this, though we still recommend they wear a top!
Newbury has three stands open to the public. The biggest of them, featuring a three-tiered raised viewing platform, is the Berkshire Stand. This large capacity structure includes a seating area, ample betting facilities, the Long Room Kitchen and the Berkshire Restaurant. Closer to the finishing post you have the sleek looking Hampshire Stand, with its large glass windows, that features the exclusive Hennessy Restaurant. Lastly, you have the Dubai Duty Free Grandstand, further down the home straight, which has a covered viewing area as well as food, drink and betting outlets.
With a Grandstand ticket, you will only be able to access the last of these grandstands and its adjacent outdoor standing area that goes right up to the outside rail. As such, it provides a fairly basic experience but one that meets all the requirements you would expect from a popular racecourse. A Premier ticket on the other hand not only gives you access to all three stands but also to all public parade ring viewing platforms. Many agree it’s a worthwhile upgrade as such, especially given that the price difference is not all great.
If purchasing in advance, online, which is recommended rather than buying on the gate, grandstand tickets typically cost £16-£20 while Premier tickets costs £24-£28. Note that for less popular meets, Newbury simply offers one standard admission ticket that allows access to all public areas, usually at a cost of just £15. Early bird discounts are available when booking in advance (usually two or more months) for selected meetings.
Newbury is a very active racecourse with 29 racedays taking place each calendar year. As a result, you never have to wait long before the next fixture at the Berkshire track. Most do welcome a sizeable crowd to the course but both the flat and jump season have one or two highlight events, which we will pay special attention to.
Before then though it is worth mentioning that on two occasions per year, Newbury books a well-known musical act to perform after an afternoon of racing. Previous names to appear have included Jess Glynne, Olly Murs, Tom Jones, Rick Astley and Rudimental. As racing is included within the price of the ticket, entry to the course on these days will cost you a fair amount more with tickets usually starting from £40.
Lockinge Stakes Day
The flat season highlight at Newbury sees the Lockinge Stakes take place. It is such a special occasion because it is the sole Group 1 race to take place here. Newbury has many Group 2 and Group 3 events but this is the only one that is classified at the very top of level of thoroughbred racing. As it is one of the leading one-mile races on the continent, it always attracts a large and vibrant crowd to Newbury. Sunshine is often a feature of this meeting too as it takes place in mid-May so you can enjoy some top class action in style, accompanied by a refreshing drink.
The two-day Winter Carnival runs in late November and begins, on Friday, with Gentleman’s Day. Racecourses across the country are known for hosting ladies’ days but here it is the gents that have the chance to strut their stuff and wear their finest outfits. Prizes are on offer for those deemed the best dressed so it is an ideal time to dust off your fanciest suit and shoes.
The following day is ‘Trophy Day’ as it sees the running of the extremely valuable Ladbrokes Trophy handicap. Regularly attracting between 15-20 runners, it is a thrilling race sure to get the adrenaline pumping. The thrill does not stop when the racing is over either as there is normally a post-racing after-party scheduled once the on-track excitement has concluded.
Challow Hurdle Day
Much like the situation with flat racing, when it comes to the National Hunt sphere, Newbury has a lot of high quality races but only one at the very highest level (Grade 1). The race in question is the Challow Novices’ Hurdle which always runs on December 29th, regardless of what day this is. Carrying a festive feel about it, this popular meeting is the perfect chance to stretch your legs and enjoy some fresh air after enjoying some home comforts and Christmas overindulgence. Between 1995 and 2000, the meeting was abandoned on four occasions due to frost, waterlogging or snow but the racecourse has been far more resilient this side of the century.
Compared to many other of the leading British racecourses, Newbury is relatively young. The first meeting to take place at its current location in the south east of Newbury occurred on 26th/27th September, 1905. Racing had taken place in the area a full century prior to this, at Enborne Heath before moving to Woodhay Heath in 1815, but racing here is not directly linked to the foundation of Newbury Racecourse.
John Porter & Edward VII
It was Kingsclere trainer, John Porter, who initially tried to get a new course built in Newbury but his proposal was rejected by the Jockey Club on a number of occasions. It was not because they deemed the idea to be flawed, rather they had strict requirements on any new racecourse builds. They did eventually sign off on a plan though after a coincidental meeting with King Edward VII led to a new proposal with his backing.
Newbury Racehorse Company
The approval of plans to build a new course led to the formation of the Newbury Racehorse Company in 1904. They purchased the necessary land and began construction of the stands and stables at a cost of around £57,000. The first two-day meeting in September 1905 featured flat racing but National Hunt followed very shortly after. Even as early as 1906 Newbury was hosting six days of flat racing and three involving jump events. Dual discipline racing has been an integral part of this success of this racecourse ever since so there really is something for everyone.