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Chester Races

Last Updated: October 12, 2018

Chester Racecourse is affectionately known as the Roodee, and racing has taken place here since the early 1500’s. The City was originally a Roman City, and the original city walls still shape part of the course, as does the River Dee. Chester Racecourse hosts around 16 fixtures each year.

The biggest meeting at Chester is the Boodles May Festival and, whilst the Chester Cup Handicap is the main highlight, the course also stages important classic trials for both The Derby and The Oaks. The 2017 Derby winner Wings Of Eagles, the 2017 Oaks winner Enable, and the 2018 Oaks winner Forever Together all ran in the trials prior to their successes at Epsom. Other famous horses to have run at Chester include Shergar.

Key Facts

Below are some key facts about Chester Racecourse.

Established: 1539

Course Type: Flat

Current Owners: Chester Racecourse Company Ltd


Chester is sometimes referred to as the greyhound track of horse racing, due to the fact the course measures little more than a mile and runners are almost constantly turning left until they reach the home straight. Once there, runners have under two furlongs to conjure up a winning run. That’s why a low-draw is often a huge advantage at Chester, especially to horses that have the pace to grab an early position against the fence and dictate from the front at their own pace.

However, when there are a lot of horses that like to race prominently, they can sometimes cut each other’s throats and set the race up for a horse coming from off the pace. However, a wide-draw is still seen as a massive disadvantage, especially in big-fields where horses can be shuffled back several lengths behind the leaders. It’s almost impossible to make a move mid-race without using up too much energy, so runners have to sit, suffer, and pray that the gaps open up late on, though they still have to be good enough to take advantage if they do.

Notable Races

All the meetings at Chester Racecourse tend to provide competitive racing, but there’s no doubt that the Boodles May Meeting is the main event, hosting famous races like the Cheshire Oaks, Huxley Stakes, Chester Vase, Ormonde Stakes, Dee Stakes, and the Chester Cup.

The Cheshire Oaks is run over 1 mile 3 furlongs and 79 yards and only three-year-old fillies are eligible to run in the race. The race was inaugurated in 1950 and has been won by the likes of Light Shift and Enable.

The Huxley Stakes was established in 1999 and this Group 2 Race over 10 furlongs and 75 yards is open to horses aged 4+. Its most famous winner is Noble Mission, who went on to establish himself as a genuine Group 1 performer, as well as being the brother of Frankel. 

The Chester Vase is Chester’s recognised Derby Trial, and this Group 3 contest is run over a trip of 1 mile four furlongs and 66 yards. Henbit, Shergar, and Ruler Of The World have all won the race before going onto success in the Epsom Derby.

The Ormonde Stakes is a Group 2 Race for horses aged four and older. Established in 1936, and run over 1 mile 5 furlongs and 89 yards, it boasts Teenoso, Harbinger, and Brown Panther amongst its most famous winners. 

The Dee Stakes is one of Chester’s oldest established races, having been established in 1813. It is run over 1 mile 2 furlongs and 75 yards and, though it is only a Listed Race, it has been won by the likes of Pentire, Oath, and Kris Kin. 

Despite the quality of some of the winners of the above races, the Chester Cup Handicap is still considered to be Chester’s most prestigious race. Crowds pack into this historic venue to watch a race that dates back to 1824 and takes place over the marathon trip of 2 miles 2 furlongs and 147 yards. Its most notable winners include dual Champion Hurdle winner Sea Pigeon and Ascot Gold Cup winner Trip To Paris. 

Dress Code

You only have to walk around Chester City Centre in the day to understand that fashion is an important part of the city’s culture and heritage. Therefore, many racegoers use a day at the races as a great excuse to dress to impress and fit in with the stylish surroundings. Chester often produces an annual style guide, especially for its May Meeting. However, the course does have a dress code for its different enclosures. 

The hospitality areas include the Winning Post, Chester Members, County Concourse, and the County Long Room. In these areas, ladies must wear a smart dress. Meanwhile, men must wear a suit, or a blazer or sports jacket and smart trousers. Jeans, sportswear, trainers, and fancy dress are strictly forbidden.

In the Tattersalls Enclosure, smart casual is the suggestion, with men asked to wear a collared shirt, either a dress shirt or a polo shirt, along with trousers, chinos, or jeans (not ripped). Shorts, t-shirts, sportswear, and fancy dress are not permitted. 

No dress code is in operation in the Dee Stand or the Open Course, with visitors advised to dress appropriately for the elements. These areas are were most visitors can be seen having a picnic.

Interesting Fact

Chester is considered to be the oldest horse racing venue in England.

Address and Contact Details

The Racecourse, Chester, CH1 2LY
01244 304 600

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