Welcome to our official guide to Chester Racecourse. In this section we explore this old racecourse in detail, looking at its history, a guide to the track, the major races, hotel picks, fixtures, travel information, betting guides and even the weather!
- 1 Overview
- 2 Racecourse History
- 3 Main Races and Events
- 4 Chester Racecourse Address
- 5 How To Get To Chester Racecourse
- 6 Hotels Near Chester Racecourse
- 7 What Are The Best Online Betting Sites?
- 8 Betting Shops Local to Chester Racecourse
- 9 Chester Races Fixtures
- 10 Chester Racecourse Weather
- 11 Other Events
- 12 Summary
- 13 Other Racecourses
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 in total. It’s flat and raced left-handed, or anti-clockwise. Unusually, Chester Races are 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 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 and can attract up to 330,000 attendees on major race days. Chester Races remain critically acclaimed and can boast the titles of Large Racecourse Of The Year 2015, 2018 and 2019, alongside the Racehorse Owner’s Association Gold Standard certification.
Chester Races home on the banks of the River Dee 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 horse 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: 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.
Main Races and Events
Six notable races take place at Chester annually in May: the Cheshire Oaks, Chester Vase, Ormonde Stakes, Dee Stakes, Huxley Stakes and 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 Chester Cup is the grand finale of sorts, and is a flat handicap race of two track laps. It’s well known for being a race where the odds-on favourite essentially never wins, so is great for a first-time flutter!
Chester Racecourse Address
New Crane Street
How To Get To Chester Racecourse
- By Car – To get to the racecourse, you just need to get to Chester, so transport is easy and frequent. A car park sits right at the entrance of the course and the city is easily accessible from the M53, M56, M6 and A483.
- 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).
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 a Wetherspoons Inn, Doubletree by Hilton and Best Western, as well as notable indie accommodations The Mill Hotel, Rowton Hall Spa and Crabwall Manor.
Also, check out the fantastic range of brilliant hotels available via Booking.com below:
What Are The Best Online Betting Sites?
If you are looking to bet online we recommend the following great deals:
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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 and Ladbrokes can be found, as well as independent branches of Cook Bookmakers, Corbett Sports and David Pluck.
Chester Races Fixtures
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 Racecourse isn’t just home to traditional horse 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.
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