Chester Racecourse Guide

Welcome to our official guide to Chester Racecourse. In this section we explore this stunning city centre racecourse in detail, looking at its long history, a guide to the unique track, the major races, hotel picks, fixtures, travel information and even the weather!

Chester Racecourse

Overview

Officially recognised as the oldest racecourse in operation by Guinness World Records, Chester Racecourse has a long and varied rich history that makes a trip to the course as educational and informative, as it is fun.

Chester Racecourse is also known as ‘the Roodee’, a name which originates from the mound in the middle of the track that’s decorated with a cross. The mound is the ‘rood’ and ‘roodee’ translates roughly as ‘the Island of the Cross’.

The course is also the smallest used in significant British racing, measuring just one mile and one furlong around in total. It’s flat left-handed. Unusually, the course is in the city centre – almost unheard of compared to other tracks in the UK. This means that what it doesn’t offer in size, it makes up for in popularity; as it’s always very well-attended and very much a part of the city’s ‘going out’ culture.

Independently owned, Chester Race Company Ltd. runs both the Roodee and Bangor-on-Dee courses, as well as an on-site hotel, two restaurants, a bar, and a catering company (that operate at both courses as well as third party venues). Interestingly, the company broke out and made history back in 2012 by becoming Britain’s first course to launch and introduce their own betting system: ChesterBET, which was implemented in place of the existing Tote facilities at the site.

The course is open 365 days a year, remains critically acclaimed and (although small in size) can boast the titles of Large Racecourse Of The Year 2015, 2018 and 2019, alongside the Racehorse Owner’s Association Gold Standard certification.

Racecourse History

Chester Racecourse is on the banks of the River Dee, which was originally a harbour, with legend stating that the cross on the ‘rood’ was to commemorate a former statue of the Virgin Mary that had been torn down. It was also home to the Chester Midsummer Watch Parade before being used as a football ground. The infamous Goteddsday football match took place on the field and was outlawed as a result in 1533. Five years later, the city stipulated football was to be replaced by racing, and so in 1539, Chester Racecourse as we know it today, was launched.


Victors at the races were awarded the ‘Chester Bells’, decorative (and very loud) bells to be fitted to the horse’s bridles, and later on, the Chester Cup gold trophy. Today, of course, the prizes are all financial, but evidence of these accolades remain a part of history. In 1766, a May Festival was added, and in 1824, the Tradesmen’s Cup; which went on to become the Chester Cup.

The first grandstand was completed in 1817 and the first ticket sold in 1897. It has since diversified into a multi-purpose events venue with the main stand called the County Stand: in 2006, it hosted it’s first music gig (Westlife, as part of their UK tour visited several British racecourses), opening its first restaurant in 2008 and its first bar in 2013.

Chester Races and Main Events

Six notable races take place at Chester annually in May at the famous and brilliant Chester May Festival, these include:

  • The Cheshire Oaks
  • Chester Vase
  • Ormonde Stakes
  • Dee Stakes
  • Huxley Stakes
  • The Chester Cup

Unlike most other courses, attendance is high for all – because its location makes it easy to reach for all visiting the city. The Cup is the grand finale of sorts, and is a flat handicap race of two-track laps.

Chester Racecourse Map

Chester Racecourse Map
Courtesy of At The Races.

Chester is a left-handed and very sharp track. It is almost circular meaning that horses are almost always on the turn. It is just over one mile around with a short run-in of just under two furlongs. A low draw at Chester is a big advantage over sprints and even over middle-distance races, particularly so in large fields where being caught wide means a runner is giving lots of ground away.

Chester Racecourse Address

The full course address is:

Chester Racecourse
The Racecourse
New Crane Street
Chester
CH1 2LY

How To Get To Chester Racecourse

There are a number of ways to travel to the racecourse but being in the centre of the city it is an easy course to reach:

  • By Car – to get to the racecourse, you just need to head to Chester. A car park sits right at the entrance of the course and the city is easily accessible from the M53, M56, M6 and A483. The postcode for your stat nav is – Chester CH1 2LY.
  • Train – Chester train station is a six-minute taxi journey from the racecourse or a twenty-minute walk.
  • Air – for air travel, there are landing facilities at nearby Deeside, but arrangements need to be agreed and made in advance with British Aerospace (as this doesn’t just serve the course). Slightly further afield are Manchester and Liverpool Airports.

Hotels Near Chester Racecourse

Any hotel in Chester will be within walking distance of the Roodee, but the Holiday Inn Express Chester Racecourse sits on the site itself. It has a variety of room options and packages, breakfast included in all rates, free Wi-Fi and complimentary parking. The hotel does get booked up on race days, so book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Other chain hotels in Chester include:

  • Wetherspoons Inn
  • Doubletree by Hilton
  • Best Western
  • The Mill Hotel
  • Rowton Hall Spa
  • Crabwall Manor

Also, check out the fantastic range of brilliant hotels available via Booking.com below:
Booking.com

Online Betting Sites For Chester Races

At British Racecourses we often recommend betting online and via apps. This is because you can often get the best odds, great offers when signing up and you can place bets quickly and safely without having to queue.

If you are looking to bet online we recommend the following great deals:

Betting Shops Local to Chester Racecourse

All betting facilities at Chester Racecourse are managed by the brand’s own gaming system, ChesterBET, alongside the standard independent bookmakers to the side of the course. ChesterBET offers an alternative to traditional pool-based dividends, as well as Win, Each-Way, Place, Forecast and Tri-Place bets. Variances aren’t huge on traditional betting, but staff are trained to explain clearly the differences – so ask if you need any clarification.

Being a city, there are of course plenty of betting options in Chester itself. Branches of:

  • Betfred
  • William Hill
  • Ladbrokes

as well as independent branches of Cook Bookmakers, Corbett Sports and David Pluck.

Chester Races Fixtures

Due to Covid 19 Chester Race fixtures have currently been disrupted but we will report back with more news when we have it.

Chester Racecourse Weather

Punters and race-goers love to keep up with the weather to predict going conditions, as well as making sure what they wear is suitable. Here’s the current weather forecast for Chester:
CHESTER WEATHER

Other Events

Chester Racecourse isn’t just home to traditional racing – it hosts the Chester Polo Club too! Fixtures vary annually but the course is known for its tradition of a hidden silver cork in each divot-treading session. The person who finds it is awarded a prize.

As a city-centre venue with plenty of space, it’s unsurprising that Chester Racecourse hosts events almost every day of the year. Plenty such occasions are private, but public events include running races and gigs.

Chester Races

Summary

Chester is a stunning racecourse with a very British feel. Situated in the centre of the beautiful city of Chester with a unique and tight track, there is not a bad seat in the house. With great food, hospitality, a fun crowd and a family feel as well, it is well worth a visit. It is one of our favourite courses here at British Racecourses and the team love to attend to the May meeting every year. Highly recommended.

Other Racecourses

Our team as of January 2021 have reviewed these racecourses that are also definitely worth a visit: