A course with a chequered history of horseracing, Hereford Racecourse re-opened just four years ago and is navigating its way through a new era of National Hunt racing.
Hereford Racecourse is owned and operated by The Arena Racing Company and was a successful horseracing venue up until 2012, when the company controversially chose to close it. Arguing that their current lease made it too difficult to invest in the venue’s necessary developments, they were unable to negotiate a new lease from Herefordshire Council and so closed the course. The British Horseracing Authority subsequently pulled all fixtures from the venue, and Herefordshire Council hoped for a community group to take over. However, this never materialised. A similar situation also took hold at Folkestone Racecourse the same year.
The course is walking distance from the town centre of Hereford and is a popular venue for West Country and Lambourn trainers to race their novices and up-and-coming talent.
Its location situates it close to town yet still against a dramatic and beautiful backdrop of the Welsh mountains.
Hereford Racecourse was used occasionally for Arabian racing and for some point-to-point racing but was otherwise closed until 2016. In October of this year, National Hunt racing resumed with four scheduled fixtures, attending by crowds of up to 4,500. In 2017, 11 fixtures were scheduled and in 2018, 12. Both Arabian and point-to-point racing ceased.
The track at Hereford Racecourse is almost square in shape, right-handed, and measures just under a mile and a half. It has nine fences, and the home turn, on falling ground, is sharp. The other bends are considered fairly easygoing. Races at Hereford are well run but can be very testing in winter.
As the coronavirus pandemic grips British horseracing throughout 2020, Hereford Racecourse closed again; with racing planned to resume at the end of the year, continuing to find its feet in the British National Hunt scene.
Before its closure in 2012, Hereford Racecourse had hosted 240 years of horseracing! From 1771, Hereford Racecourse was home to flat racing, and jump racing was introduced in 1840. It’s been a National Hunt course ever since, although faced disruptions in wartime and then later on when it closed.
Post-World War II, from 1946 onwards, Hereford Racecourse hit mainstream popularity and saw an increase in both attendance and racing entrants.
By 1975, the amount of entrants had increased so much that races had to be split and the race card went from a calendar of 11 fixtures to 14; all well attended. Within months, racing legends such as Tony McCoy and Martin Pipe had raced at Hereford and increased even further interest in the course.
Main Races and Events
It’s fair to say that Hereford Racecourse is still finding its feet in the horseracing scene after its four year break, so the current biggest races at the venue aren’t necessarily prominent in the horseracing calendar; but are still popular locally. The most notable fixture at Hereford Racecourse currently is Ladies Day, a winter spin on the classic raceday that attracts creative couture and fantastic frocks from all over the surrounding areas. Most racedays are afternoon novice fixtures although the venue is beginning to diversify into novelty and themed events.
The 2020 season cancellations have undoubtedly had a negative impact on Hereford, but as racing resumes back to something resembling normal, the course will have the opportunity to build back its reputation and calendar to boost its profile in the British horseracing industry. It has already defaulted to its place as a track for emerging talent, and as this continues, so too will its standing in the community.
Hereford Racecourse Map
How To Get To Hereford Racecourse
The main approach to Hereford Racecourse by road is the A49, and ample free parking is available on racedays. The course is easy walking distance from Hereford town centre, so many attendees choose to travel into Hereford and walk out.
The Hereford rail station sits on the mainline from London Paddington and South Wales, as well as regular connections from Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff. There’s no need to get a bus to the racecourse as its so close to the town centre, but long-haul coaches (National Express and others) from a variety of destinations can be caught into Hereford itself.
Helicopters may land at Hereford Racecourse with prior permission, on racedays only.
Hotels near Hereford Racecourse
The closest hotel to Hereford Racecourse is the Premier Inn Hereford Holmer Hotel, a roadside accommodation option along the A49. It’s a low-cost option with basic rooms, but for more options, racegoers can stay in Hereford town centre.
Hotels in the town centre include Kidwells House (a four-star B&B but a little dated), Aylestone Court Hotel (a three-star hotel with a boutique feel), No. 21 (a four-star Tudor-themed B&B) and The Merton Hotel (a three-star budget option with basic amenities).
Betting Shops Local to Hereford Racecourse
Hereford Racecourse has a variety of betting options, dependent on the enclosure racegoers are based within. A traditional betting shop sits in the main grandstand, with Totepool kiosks throughout all and independent bookies trackside. Hospitality suites and boxes have table service for betting as well as separate private kiosks and concierge.
A branch of Coral is situated at the end of the road the racecourse sits on, and in Hereford town centre, all the usual brand names can be found: Betfred, Megabet, Paddy Power and William Hill. Coral is particularly popular in Hereford, so you can expect to find a few of them!
As Hereford Racecourse looks to find its place in the British racing scene, the venue has begun to host a variety of non-racing events alongside their blossoming horseracing fixture list. So far, these have included hot air balloon flights, themed Christmas parties, funerals, wakes and weddings.
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 Hereford:
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