The picturesque Yorkshire setting of Ripon Racecourse has earned it the nickname the Yorkshire Garden Racecourse, whilst racing has actually been taking place in Ripon for over 350 years. However, it only celebrated its 100th year anniversary in 2000 at its present site on Boroughbridge Road.
The course typically stages around 17 flat racing meetings each season, with its highest-profile day being the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Day. The course also stages Family Fun Day, Ladies’ Day, and the popular Theakston’s Beer Festival Day. Ripon also features in the Go Racing In Yorkshire Festival.
Course Type: Flat
Current Owner: Ripon Race Company Limited
Ripon is quite a deceiving track as, though it looks flat, it has subtle undulations that can cause some horses to get unbalanced. This means the course is notable for having course specialists. The course itself is right-handed, oval-shaped, and measures 13 furlongs. It also has a long run-in of five furlongs, with a special chute that allows six-furlongs races to be run on a straight course.
When the going is good or faster, it often pays to race handily, with front-runners often kicking-on at around 1½ furlongs from home, where a ridge makes it hard for horses coming from off the pace to make the ground up. The Stands rail is often the place to be in sprints, providing the pace on both sides is evenly matched.
Ripon stages relatively low-class racing throughout the season, but its two main highlights are the Ripon Champion Two Year Old Trophy and the Great St Wilfrid Handicap.
The Champion Two Year Old Trophy is run over six-furlongs, with recent winners including Alicante Dawn, Enjaazat, and Sporting Chance. However, the race’s most notable winner was the 1999 winner Invincible Spirit who went on to win at Group 1 level and sire the likes of Kingman and Moonlight Cloud.
The Great St Wilfrid handicap is always a competitive affair and this six-furlong race is open to horses aged three and older. High-profile winners have included Pipalong and Markab, whilst recent winners Gunmetal, Mattmu, and Nameitwhatyoulike ended a run of five years in which only horses trained by local trainer David O’Meara and Richard Fahey had been successful.
If you’ve bought tickets for the Club Enclosure at Ripon Racecourse, you are asked to adhere to the dress code. This includes smart trousers and a collared shirt for men, whilst ladies usually dress in a similar smart casual manner. However, many racegoers push the boat out and dress up. Racegoers wearing ripped jeans, t-shirts, trainers, or sportswear will not be admitted. When choosing their footwear, ladies are encouraged to consider the going description, as there are a lot of grassy areas.
There is no strict dress code in the Paddock Enclosure of Course Enclosure, but racegoers are still asked to dress decently, giving consideration to other racegoers and their families. Fancy dress is permitted in these two enclosures, providing it is good taste and will not offend other racegoers. Bare chests are not permitted.
On Ladies’ Day, the ladies make a special effort to impress, with many partners dressing to match. Hats are very popular, especially with those ladies hoping to win the prize for the “Best Dressed Lady”.
In 2011, 2014, and 2015, the Racegoers Club voted Ripon the Best Small Racecourse in the North.
Ripon Race Company Ltd, The Racecourse, Boroughbridge Road, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 1UG