Sedgefield Racecourse Hotels

Sedgefield Grandstand
Oliver Dixon / geograph.org.uk

Lying just outside the town of Sedgefield from which it takes its name, we find one of the leading National Hunt venues in the north of England. Benefitting from a beautifully scenic countryside setting, the County Durham venue of Sedgefield Racecourse has been staging meetings for centuries now and continues to draw in the crowds, offering competitive racing fare and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

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Hotels

Given its picturesque setting and proximity to a number of northern urban hubs, many racegoers making the trip to Sedgefield may seek to extend their visit with an overnight stay. Happily, for those hoping to explore a little more of what the area has to offer, there is a multitude of accommodation options available, both close to the course and a little further afield.

Closest to the Course

Whilst there are no hotels at the track itself, there are several within the town of Sedgefield, which sits only one mile to the north of the course. Although small, Sedgefield does possess a certain charm, boasting a handful of historical landmarks including the Grade II Listed, Hardwick Hall, in addition to a selection of intriguing drinking establishments, including the Golden Lion, Corner House and the aforementioned options.

Hardwick Hall Hotel Sedgefield
Hardwick Hall Hotel
23 min walk

Hardwick Hall Hotel is just a 23-minute walk to Sedgefield Racecourse or a quick 4-minute drive. The hotel is located in the picturesque countryside with over 120 acres of parkland. The hotel has a steakhouse restaurant and also offers a bar with light snacks, afternoon tea and a traditional Sunday lunch.

The Impeccable Pig Sedgefield
The Impeccable Pig
21 min walk

At the Impeccable Pig you can swine, dine and sleep with an upmarket restaurant, bar and accommodation. The restaurant offers a good selection of classic dishes and also includes pizza and a "Sunday Pig Out" (AKA roast dinner). There is a small garden and a breakfast is included each day.

The Pickled Parson of Sedgefield
The Pickled Parson of Sedgefield
19 min walk

The Pickled Parson of Sedgefield has a pub, kitchen and rooms with a buffet breakfast for hotel guests. The property is just a 19-minute walk to Sedgefield Racecourse or a 3-minute drive. The pub serves up classics, such as steak and ale pie and fish and chips and also offers a Sunday roast.

Durham

Another viable option, and one which certainly has plenty to offer, is the cathedral city of Durham, which lies only 14 miles to the north of the track. In addition to the cathedral, Durham is also home to a historic castle and dozens of listed buildings, creating a real haven for history buffs. Unsurprisingly given its thriving university community, pubs and bars are also in plentiful supply, with the Drunken Duck, the Head of Steam and the Library amongst a host of popular options. Those looking to stay within Durham will find something to suit all tastes and budgets, from major chains to higher end options.

The Kingslodge Inn Durham
The Kingslodge Inn
23 min drive

The Kingslodge Inn is in the city centre of Durham near the town's train station and offers a cosy bar and restaurant with a grassy beer garden. The hotel serves up an English breakfast each day and the property is just a 23-minute drive from Sedgefield Racecourse.

Hotel Indigo - Durham
Hotel Indigo - Durham
21 min drive

Hotel Indigo - Durham is located in the city centre near Durham's train station. There is a steakhouse bar and grill, as well as a cocktail bar and the hotel serves an a la carte breakfast each morning. There is also a fitness room that includes cardio machines and weights.

Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham
Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham
22 min drive

The Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham is on the banks of the River Wear and offers fantastic views of Durham Cathedral. There is a bar and restaurant that offers a breakfast buffet each day, as well as a health club with a spa bath, sauna, steam room, gym and indoor pool.

Newcastle

If Durham is still not quite lively enough for you, why not head a little further north to Newcastle? One of the UK’s number one nightspots, and only a little over 25 miles from the course, if post-race entertainment is a priority, the “Toon” rates an obvious choice. Home to the Bigg Market, the Diamond Strip and the beautiful Quayside, the city also possesses plenty to keep the more culturally inclined entertained, including a range of historical points of interest, museums, and theatres. In terms of accommodation on offer, a huge range of options are to be found on the banks of the Tyne.

Travelodge Newcastle Central
Travelodge Newcastle Central
49 min drive

The Travelodge Newcastle Central is located in the heart of Newcastle and, whilst the hotel chain typically does not offer any bells or whistles, they offer breakfast each morning and a comfortable place to rest your head. The hotel is just 49-minutes driving to Sedgefield Racecourse.

Holiday Inn Newcastle-Jesmond
Holiday Inn Newcastle-Jesmond
51 min drive

The Holiday Inn Newcastle-Jesmond is a 20-minute walk to St James Park and a 51-minute drive to Sedgefield Racecourse. There is a glass fronted lobby with a bar, along with an Italian restaurant within the hotel. The hotel also offers a mini-gym for guests hoping to get in a workout during their stay.

Hotel Du Vin Newcastle
Hotel Du Vin Newcastle
52 min drive

Hotel Du Vin Newcastle is located near the River Tyne and has a bistro style restaurant, as well as a bar that offers wine tastings. The hotel was once home to Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company so the building has been refurbished and modernised. It is a 52-minute drive to Sedgefield Racecourse.

About the Racecourse

Sedgefield parade ring
Jill Williamson/Sue-Lee Rowlands / Wikipedia.org

A National Hunt-only venue, Sedgefield stages racing just about all year round, with June and July being the only blank months. All told, there are around 21 meetings spread over the course of the season, including two evening fixtures and two Sunday afternoon cards.

Only five minutes from Junction 60 on the A1, the track is easily reached by road, with the A689 and A19 also approaching the course. Sedgefield Racecourse is well signposted from all directions, but for satnav users, the postcode to enter is TS21 2HW. Once at the track, motorists will find ample free parking available, located just outside the course.

The closest train stations to the venue are those of Darlington and Durham which lie on the London to Edinburgh and Newcastle to Plymouth lines. A taxi to the track from either station will then take around 20 minutes. Racegoers travelling from Durham also have the option of the X12 bus service which stops in Sedgefield Town Centre. From Sedgefield, it is then a pleasant 25-minute walk or a short taxi journey to the course.

The Course

Sedgefield’s left-handed course lies somewhere between an oval and a rectangle in configuration and features pronounced undulations throughout its 1m2f circuit. A generally tight course, with sharp turns and fairly short straight sections, the track is well suited to nippy agile performers, with long-striding galloping types often struggling to get into a rhythm. Of the track’s undulations, the most significant comes in the home straight which, having initially descended, then rises steeply all the way to the line. Challenging on quick ground, the finish can become a real slog in softer conditions.

Utilising the outer portion of the course, the chase track features a total of eight fences per circuit, the final two of which lie in the home straight, prior to a run-in of around a furlong. Noted for being amongst the least demanding fences in British racing, the track witnesses a very low rate of fallers and unseats. The most difficult section of the course from a jumping perspective comes in the back straight, where the four fences do come up pretty quickly after one another, placing the emphasis on fast, accurate jumping.

Lying to the inside, the hurdles course is even sharper than its chase counterpart and features five flights per circuit, the final two of which again sit in the home straight before a short run-in to the line. In general, Sedgefield is well suited to front runners, particularly on good ground, although those tight turns and up and down sections do make this something of a specialist’s course. As such, any horse to have previously gone well at the track is well worth considering – a statement well-advertised by the Brian Ellison runner, Fatehalkhair, who won no fewer than 13 races around here.

Dress Code

There is no strict dress code in place at Sedgefield. Racegoers are free to dress as they please in the Course Enclosure, whilst of course remembering to stay on the right side of decency. Smart casual is recommended in the Grandstand and Paddock enclosure, with jogging bottoms, sports shorts, football or rugby shirts, skimpy tops and trainers all being advised against.

The Stands

There are two main enclosures available at Sedgefield: those of the Grandstand and Paddock Enclosure, and the Course Enclosure. Priced at £19 for a regular meeting and £21 for a premium fixture such as Ladies’ Day, the Grandstand and Paddock Enclosure is the main area of the track and affords access to the parade ring and winning enclosure, in addition to a range of bars and eateries, including the Sea Merchant Fish Shop and the Bistro 1927.

Only open on the more popular race days, the Course Enclosure is priced at a bargain £5, making it a hugely popular option with families seeking a good value day out. Located in the centre of the track, this area contains its own food, drink and betting facilities, in addition to a picnic and children’s play area.

Under 18’s go free with a paying adult in both main areas of the track, with concessions available for students and OAPs. Parties of 10 or more may also be eligible for a group discount. In addition to the standard ticketing options, a number of hospitality and dining packages are also available. For £25, the Sea Merchant deal provides entry, race card and fish and chips, whilst three and four course meal options from the Hoops Restaurant range from £87 to £110 per head.

Upcoming Fixtures at Sedgefield

Date Time Type Surface
Friday 10th May 2024 Evening Jump Turf
Monday 23rd September 2024 Afternoon Jump Turf
Tuesday 1st October 2024 Afternoon Jump Turf
Wednesday 9th October 2024 Afternoon Jump Turf
Sunday 20th October 2024 Afternoon Jump Turf
Tuesday 5th November 2024 Afternoon Jump Turf
Thursday 14th November 2024 Afternoon Jump Turf
Tuesday 26th November 2024 Afternoon Jump Turf
Friday 6th December 2024 Afternoon Jump Turf
Thursday 26th December 2024 Afternoon Jump Turf

Major Meetings

Sedgefield entrance
peter robinson / geograph.org.uk

Whilst invariably exciting and competitive, the bulk of the action at Sedgefield does tend to be of a mid to lower level in terms of the class of performers on show. There are nevertheless a number of fixtures that do stand out from the crowd. Whilst the themed and family fun days always prove popular with punters, it is the following three meetings that top the pile.

Durham National

Making its debut in 1955 and initially held in the spring, this marathon 3m6f chase contest now takes place in October each year and acts as the track’s signature event. Serving as the centrepiece of a seven-race card held on a punter-friendly Sunday afternoon, this is always one of the first dates pencilled into the diaries of local racing fans and can be counted upon to attract punters from further afield.

Boxing Day Racing

A staple of the Sedgefield racing scene since way back in the 1920s, this festive feast of action continues to draw the crowds in their droves to this day. Handicapping and novice action are the order of the day on an exciting seven-race card, with an excellent atmosphere in the stands all but guaranteed with much of the crowd still in the Christmas party mood.

Ladies Day

August each year sees the track take advantage of the weather to stage its annual Ladies Day, attracting many women of the northeast to descend upon the course in all their finery. With additional entertainment in the stands, excellent prizes on offer in the Ladies Style Awards, and a competitive seven-race card of action, this is comfortably one of the most popular events of the year.

History

Sedgefield from a distance
Robert Graham / geograph.org.uk

Racing in the Sedgefield locale is reported to have taken place from as long ago as 1732, although little is known of these fledgling events. 1804 then marked the beginning of a more organised racing programme, with the Ralph Lambton Hunt taking charge of the meetings at the track. These fixtures held on the Sands Hall Estate did however remain fairly sporadic and low-key affairs.

1846: First Recognised Meetings Take Place

It wasn’t until 1846 that the first officially recognised meetings began to take place. Although even then, they remained relatively scarce, with only around two or three race days per season until the course was forced into closure between 1915 and 1920 due to the First World War. Despite the paucity of these meetings, the reputation of the course was beginning to grow, with the racing surface in particular regularly coming in for praise.

Sedgefield Racecourse Company

The death of the owner of the Sands Hall Estate, Richard Ord, in 1920 cast a little uncertainty over the future of the course, but by 1927 the Sedgefield Racecourse Company had been established to run the operation. Immediately beginning to increase the number of fixtures, it is this date of 1927 which is considered to be the start of the modern era for the track.

Frank Scotto Spruces Up the Course

Whilst the fixtures were increasing in number, the quality of the facilities saw little to no improvements over the coming decades. A fact that no doubt contributed to the track being threatened with closure as it entered the 1970s. However, in 1977 a man by the name of Frank Scotto took over as chairman and immediately set about improving the race day experience – taking the sensible decision to replace the existing tin huts with far more comfortable bars and restaurants.

Continuing to oversee investment in the track, Scotto opened both the Sedgefield Pavilion in 1991 and the Theakston Suite in 1995. The death of Scotto in 1997 again caused some to call the future of the course into question. That question was then raised more loudly in 1999, thanks to a terrible accident that led to the death of three horses in a novice chase.

Northern Racing Purchases Course

Thankfully for local racegoers though, the demise of Sedgefield proved to be a false alarm. With the safety issues having been rectified, Northern Racing stepped in to purchase the course in 2001 and promptly pumped a further £600,000 into improvements and upgrades.

Dwain the Dog

One of the track’s more unusual tales then came in 2004 came thanks to the exploits of “Dwain the Dog”. A Border Collie seemingly without a home, Dwain was regularly spotted running amok around the track on race days, to the extent that bookmaker Fred Done offered a reward of £500 for his safe capture. And having proved elusive for so long, Dwain eventually did succumb to the temptations of a “pork pie trap” late in 2004.

Having experienced something of an up and down time of things over the years, Sedgefield has always managed to overcome the obstacles thrown at it. Now seemingly enjoying a period of stability, the course continues to deliver in providing a relaxed, family-friendly, countryside racing outing.