Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse, or just Bangor Racecourse as it is often known, is one of three active racecourses in Wales and the only one in the north of the country.
Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse hosts National Hunt racing and although isn’t well known nationally, can boast the title of being the only horseracing venue in the country without a grandstand!
Despite not having a traditional grandstand, Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse does have all the other modern hospitality facilities that you’d expect – restaurants, bars, conferencing facilities and private raceday facilities for hire. It’s just all more ground level than is often the case with racecourses. The lack of tall buildings on-site does mean that there’s some great views out across the Welsh countryside, so the surroundings are unique and offer great photo opportunities.
Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse is owned independently by the same firm that own Chester Racecourse, and the two venues share a Course Clerk. Chester is a flat racing course. The company also own an on-site (at Chester) Holiday Inn Express Hotel, two on-site restaurants and a bar in Chester city centre: the Commonhall Social.
Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse has a schedule of around 15 race fixtures a year and racing takes place all year-round, albeit with busier events in late autumn and winter.
The track at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse is left-handed and fairly sharp, almost triangular in shape. Surface undulations are minor and the fences are regarded as being pretty stiff. Races are well-run at Bangor-on-Dee, mainly because horses are almost always on the turn. It’s a quick course and speed is of the essence for runners here.
Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse has hosted National Hunt racing since 1859 and other than the World Wars and coronavirus pandemic, has continued uninterrupted since. The first ever race was for a prize of fifty guineas and was contested between the Hon Lloyd Kenyon and Richard Myddleton Biddulph of Chirk Castle. Richard won easily, but the crowds drawn to the race cemented the popularity of Bangor-on-Dee as a racing venue. An annual meeting was arranged on the back of the ‘hype’ locally.
The hurdles track was constructed in 1947 when racing resumed after World War II and in 1953, a proper stable block and accommodation for stable staff was built.
Amateur point-to-point racing has taken place at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse since 2006 inside of the regular track, with races run right-handed at Bangor for the first time.
In 2018, new facilities for trainers and owners were opened but still no grandstand – and for now, it looks as though Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse won’t ever have one on its site!
Main Races and Events
Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse doesn’t have a packed racing calendar, nor does it attract a great deal of large prominent events – but that’s primarily because of its size and the fact that, of course, it doesn’t have a grandstand to house all of its spectators. That said, the charity events hosted at Bangor-on-Dee are always popular and jockey Tony McCoy frequently makes a point of racing at them.
Most race meets are sponsored by corporate brands so change their names year-on-year. Whilst none of these could be considered ‘major’ in the industry, one does carry a hefty prize fund: the Anne Duchess of Westminster Memorial Handicap Steeple Chase is worth £26,000!
Many spectators are attracted to Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse for its point-to-point racing; which while amateur, is far from low quality. Point-to-point provides a completely different race experience to that of regular horseracing but is a great way for racegoers to cheaply spend a day out and see some up-and-coming talent in terms of both jockeys and horses.
How To Get To Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse
Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse is just a 25-min drive from Chester and well signposted from the A483. Motorists travelling from all directions can follow signs to Wrexham and then use local signage. Car parking is totally free and many attending choose to erect a gazebo near their cars – this can be done for a one-off fee of £10.
Wrexham General Station is the nearest rail station to the racecourse and is served by free shuttle buses every race day. Taxis are available outside Wrexham General at all times and it’s less than a 15-min journey away.
Buses aren’t great here (this is rural North Wales, after all!), but Wrexham is served by local and national routes. Helicopters can land at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse but must be arranged in advance – and the exact landing area can change, so further communication on the day of travel may need to be made.
Hotels near Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse
Bangor-on-Dee itself isn’t particularly large, so you won’t find chain hotels in the town but fear not: there’s plenty of accommodation options around!
The Buck House Hotel sits in the town centre and is a buzzing local pub with basic rooms available. It’s close, and it’s a great option for those not looking to travel too far after the race action ends. In nearby Wrexham, you’ll find some more of the well-known names: Ramada Jarvis Plaza and Premier Inn Express. Guesthouses and other independent accommodation options include the Wynnstay Arms, The Albion Hotel, The Lemon Tree and The Grove Guest House.
Betting Shops Local to Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse
Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse isn’t typical with its betting options – not least of course, because you can’t just head into the grandstand and find the nearest kiosk! There were standard Tote windows throughout the course until 2012, when the management replaced them all with their own betting system: bangorBET. The course has plenty of material available explaining the bangorBET system, so ask for help, read up, and have a flutter! You can also find independent bookmakers at trackside, but given the size of the course, there’s never very many, so bet early to avoid queuing.
There are no betting shops in Bangor-on-Dee itself but nearby Wrexham has branches of Coral, William Hill, Corbett Bookmakers, Betfred and Ladbrokes.
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