Racing has officially been taking place at Hamilton since 1782, though the current racecourse only opened in 1926. However, legend has it that horse racing has taken place in this region of Scotland for over 1,000 years. Indeed, it is believed that the former king of Scotland, King William, presented the region of Lanark with a silver bell as a prize for a horse race over 800 years ago. Hamilton Racecourse’s most famous race is still called the Lanark Silver Bell, and the prize is thought to be one of the oldest in sporting history.
The course is also renowned for staging music concerts, many of which are put on after racing. Artists that have performed there include the CutKelvins, a Scottish band that featured on the X-Factor in 2017. The course also stages weddings, corporate events, and Christmas Parties.
Below are some key facts about Hamilton Racecourse.
Course Type: Flat
Current Owners: Hamilton Park Trust
Races run over five furlongs and six furlongs are run on the straight course, and the draw is generally unbiased. However, when the ground rides heavy, the fair rail is often the pace to be. The course also has two loops which allows for races to be run up to a distance of 1 mile 5 furlongs and 9 yards. Horses race right-handed around these loops, which are sharp and undulating. Balance is perceived to be an important attribute for horses here, as they have to negotiate a hollow just before the three-furlong post, after which there is a stiff uphill finish all the way to the line. The course produces a fair amount of course specialists.
Hamilton Racecourse traditionally stages around 18 days of racing each year, with the opening meeting in May and the closing meeting in September. Some meetings have fun titles, such as the Palmaris Services Braveheart Night, Exsel Group – It & Communications Saints and Sinners Night, East Kilbride Ladies’ Night, and the Ladbrokes Lanark Silver Bell Racenight.
Hamilton Racecourse’s most notable races include the Glasgow Stakes, a Listed Race run over 1 mile 3 furlongs and 15 yards in July. The race used to be run earlier in the season and was once considered a Derby Trial. Indeed, Commander In Chief won this race on his way to Derby success in 1993. High-profile recent winners of the race include subsequent group race winners Postponed and Defoe.
The Lanark Silver Bell Handicap is one of the oldest races in history and, after an absence from the program, it was restored after a sponsorship agreement with Ladbrokes. The winner of the 2018 edition was Archi’s Affaire.
The course also stages the Scottish Steward’s Cup Handicap over six furlongs, and the winner of the 2018 edition was George Bowen, trained by Richard Fahey.
Hamilton Racecourse does not operate a strict dress code, with racegoers urged to generally dress for comfort. However, football colours are discouraged.
There are some special meetings where racegoers tend to make a special effort regarding what they wear. These include Saint & Sinners Racenight and Ladies’ Night, with ladies making the most of the chance to put on their best dresses and accompanying hats or fascinators. The best dressed ladies can even win prizes. The course does feature a lot of grass areas but, ladies wanting to wear heels, shouldn’t worry whatever the weather as there are plenty of paths. Hamilton even has its own style-guide, if you’re stuck for ideas about what to wear.
Racecourses holding concerts may be commonplace nowadays, but it was Hamilton Racecourse that became the first racecourse in the UK to host a sell-out concert in 2010, without there being any racing on that day.
Hamilton Racecourse was also the first racecourse in Scotland to offer racegoers free Wi-Fi access, in 2015.
Address and Contact Details
Hamilton Park Racecourse, Bothwell Road, Hamilton, ML3 0DW –
01698 283 806