Horse racing is a rural sport. That can make it tough to visit even the biggest racecourses in Britain but travel is not an issue anybody will have with Nottingham Racecourse. The course is just three miles outside of Nottingham city centre making it a perfect choice for those looking to add a trip to the races to a weekend away.
Nottingham is a thriving city with a whole lot to do and visit in addition to the racing. The racecourse is set in Colwick Park, which is only three miles from the city centre and two miles from Nottingham Railway Station. This makes travelling to and from the course on race day a very viable option but for those planning a longer stay the accommodation options are plentiful.
Making it to the racecourse from the city centre is straightforward via taxis or a couple of bus routes. Those who don’t mind a bit of a walk can get to the course from any of the centrally based hotels. Genuinely walkable options are relatively thin on the ground though.
Colwick Hall Hotel is the closest hotel. This attractive, four-star hotel is adjacent to the racecourse so is perfect for racegoers who either don’t want a long trek in the morning or somewhere close to lay their head. Additionally, the local area is quite residential so there are several B&B options on rental websites.
City Centre Stay
On any given weekend, there are a number of activities taking place in and around Nottingham. Thankfully for racegoers from out of town, the city is very well served by hotels, bed and breakfasts and guest houses. In terms of the bigger names, the likes of Ibis, Jurys Inn and Hilton are present as are more budget-friendly options, such as Holiday Inn and Premier Inn. Generally speaking, the more central options are more expensive although it’s worth noting that the train station is to the south of the city with the Bentinck Hotel being the closest option.
Outside of the City
Anybody looking for a little bit of peace and quiet rather than being in the heart of Nottingham city centre, there are some very good hotels slightly outside of the city. These, such as the upmarket De Vere Orchard Hotel, provide very comfortable options. One more quiet option closer to the racecourse is the Residence Hotel at Nottinghamshire Golf and Country Club.
About the Racecourse
Nottingham Racecourse is a historic venue that has always had an eye on the future. The administrators at the course are as wedded to maintaining a high calibre of Flat racing as they are to providing racegoers with a high-class experience. Set just outside of Nottingham city centre, it’s an easily accessible course which forms the basis of many enjoyable weekends away each year.
The racing at Nottingham Racecourse begins in the spring and goes all the way through the summer months to the autumn. There are several highlights in that time including the Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes in April, the Kilvington Stakes on Ladies Day in May and Colwick Cup Day in August.
The course’s proximity to Nottingham makes it an easy venue to get to drive to. Whether coming from north or south, drivers can make their way to Colwick Park from either the M1 or A1. Drivers coming down from the north must follow signs for the racecourse from the A60 or A612 while those from the south of the country come off the A60 and A453. Another option is the park and ride based in Nottingham and with a stop adjacent to the course.
There are ample public transport links to Nottingham. The main train station is close to the city centre but it is a couple of miles from the racecourse so most racegoers use a taxi (the course recommends DG Cars) or either the number 44 or Ecolink bus routes. Those coming from further afield can fly into either East Midlands or Nottingham City Airport which are both nearby.
Nottingham Racecourse is one of the more picturesque in the country. The course is situated in Colwick Park, just a stone’s throw from the River Trent. The grounds of the course are big at around 300 acres. That provides plenty of space for amenities and the Jockey Club app provides users with an easy to navigate map for everything available.
Because both National Hunt and Flat racing used to take place at Nottingham there are two tracks. The first is used for the early and late parts of the Flat season with the old hurdles course used in the heart of the summer. That helps to ensure the fairness of the horse racing at Nottingham. Moreover, there are two long straights to the benefit of big galloping horses and a couple of sharp turns which help the smaller, more nimble horses. The fairness of the course is one reason why so many leading trainers send their most promising juveniles to run at Nottingham each season.
The dress code at Nottingham Racecourse varies subject to which part of the course you are in. General admission tickets with access to the Grandstand Enclosure comes with no strict dress code. Visitors are simply expected to be in a “reasonable level of dress”. For the Premier Enclosure and hospitality suites, a smart casual dress code applies. This means no t-shirts, trainers or fancy dress. Smart jeans are permitted as are tailored shorts in hot weather.
Nottingham is far from the most developed racecourse in the country. The options for seating and viewing are considerably fewer than other courses but what they do offer, they offer very well. The basic ticket to the racing will get you a place in the Grandstand Enclosure. Racegoers can choose to stand in the main grandstand with its good view of the home straight and finishing post or to wander up to the parade and pre-parade ring or the betting ring where several on-course bookmakers set up shop. Tickets for the Grandstand Enclosure start at just £15 and under 18s go free for the bulk of the meetings at Nottingham.
General admission ticket holders have several choices when it comes to food and drink. There is a fish and chip outlet called The Winning Plaice and the well-stocked Champions Bar which is located on the ground floor of the Grandstand. No trip to Nottingham Racecourse is complete though without a visit to Anna’s Tea Room which offers sandwiches, toasties and tea and cake.
Those looking for a more upmarket dining experience have a choice of either one of the private boxes or Sherwoods Restaurant which makes up the hospitality options at Nottingham. Both of these venues as well as the Centenary Stand operate as stand-alone restaurants and settings for events, conferences and weddings when there is no racing taking place. A hospitality ticket also includes access to the Premier Enclosure right by the winning post. Tickets for Sherwoods Restaurant start at £80 per person while private suites start at £125 per person rising to £222 per person for the VIP package that includes a champagne reception and four-course meal.
Unlike many British and Irish racecourses, Nottingham lacks a big meeting spread over multiple days. What that means is that the quality of the racing is fairly evenly spread across the Flat racing season at Nottingham.
As well as the main meetings highlighted below, it is always worth keeping an eye on the maidens run at Nottingham. Some of the most powerful yards in Flat racing like to send their promising juveniles to Nottingham to try and get them off the mark. It was a route popularised by Sir Henry Cecil who sent Oh So Sharp to Nottingham before her successful completion of the English Fillies’ Triple Crown in 1985.
Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes Day
Further Flight was a very high-class stayer during the 1990s. Among his successes were two wins in the ‘Michelozzo’ Conditions Stakes run over the distance of 1m6f. His Nottingham triumphs saw the race named in his honour and then later in honour of his trainer, Barry Hills. The day of the Listed race is the feature of Nottingham’s first race meeting of the year.
Nottinghamshire Oaks Day
April is a big month for Nottingham Racecourse with three meetings to get the Flat racing season underway with a bang. The third of those meetings is Nottinghamshire Oaks Day. This is an important race locally but also further afield and in terms of prize money it is the second most valuable race of the year at Colwick Park.
Ladies Day is arguably the biggest day of the year at Nottingham. From a racing perspective, the headline race is the Kilvington Fillies’ Stakes, the most valuable race of the year. The rest of the card is always entertaining but for most racegoers, the real joy of Ladies Day is that it is a cracking day out and a big one in the Nottingham social scene. Expect people dressed up to the nines on what is hopefully a sunny spring day in early May.
Colwick Cup Day
The big summer meeting at Nottingham is Colwick Cup Day. If the British summer is playing ball then this is a very good family day out. There is plenty to enjoy for anybody from hardened racing fans to those who have never before visited a racecourse.
As with many British racecourses, Nottingham has a long history of horse racing. In fact, the first recorded instance of racing taking place at Nottingham was all the way back in 1773. The records show that racing took place in Sherwood Forest which isn’t quite the same location that the racecourse currently stands.
Racing in Nottingham first moved to Colwick Park in 1892. The land, which used to be part of the Colwick Hall Estate, quickly developed a reputation as a very good home for racing. Indeed, Nottingham Racecourse was one of the first courses to be awarded the prestigious royal seal of approval.
Nottingham City Council Saves Racecourse
Racing carried on at Nottingham over the years but the racecourse was under some threat by the 1960s. Thankfully, the course was saved when Nottingham City Council bought it in 1965. The council then leased the land to the Racecourse Holdings Trust (now Jockey Club Racecourses) for a nominal fee. This move encouraged the Levy Board to invest in Nottingham Racecourse, funding wholesale improvements to the site.
Changed to Flat Course in 1996
30 years later came another big moment in the history of Nottingham Racecourse. The decision was made to move from being a dual host of racing and focus solely on Flat racing. As of 1996, all National Hunt racing was moved from Nottingham and the jumps track became the second Flat track. The move paid dividends as Nottingham’s stock rose considerably to the point that it was awarded the Gold Standard by the Racehorse Owners Association in 2014.