Salisbury Racecourse is located in Wiltshire and hosts around 16 flat racing meetings each year between April and October. Nobody seems to be 100% sure when the course officially opened, but history suggests that horse racing has been taking place in Salisbury since the mid sixteenth century.
Although not one of England’s premier racetracks, Salisbury has welcomed many equine stars over the centuries. Both Gimcrack and Eclipse ran here in the eighteenth century, whilst twentieth century visitors includes Sun Chariot, Mill Reef, and Brigadier Gerard. This century, both Sir Percy and Look Here both ran here on their way to their respective classic successes in the 2006 Derby and 2008 Oaks.
Salisbury currently stages a number of popular meetings such as Family Race Day and Ladies Day. Meanwhile, it’s two most important race days are the Tattersalls Sovereign Stakes Day and the Shadwell Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes Day.
Established: Mid sixteenth century
Course Type: Flat
Current Owner: Not Stated
Salisbury Racecourse has quite a unique right-handed layout. Races of up to a mile are run on a relatively straight course, though there is a right-handed elbow around half a mile from the winning line. That last half a mile is also uphill, putting a strong emphasis on stamina, especially when the ground is soft.
Races over distances longer than a mile are run around a loop, which joins the straight course at the seven-furlong post. The home bend on the loop is quite sharp and it’s a good idea for jockeys to get a good position near the rails. On soft ground, horses often tack across to the far rail where the ground can be a little better, therefore jockeys are often seen trying to hold a position that will allow them to grab a desired rail position.
Salisbury’s four flagship events include two Listed Races called the Cathedral Stakes and the Upavon Fillies’ Stakes and two Group 3 contests called the Sovereign Stakes and the Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes.
The Cathedral Stakes was first run in 2002 and is usually run in June over a trip of six furlongs. The stable of Richard Hannon has a strong affinity with the race having won seven renewals between 2008 and 2017, though the most notable winners were the high-class pair of Avonbridge and Sakhee’s Secret.
The Upavon Fillies’ Stakes is run over a distance of just short of 10-furlongs in August, with Frankie Dettori winning five renewals and Sir Michael Stoute four. However, trainer Henry Candy has the strongest recent record in the race having trained the winners in 2014, 2016, and 2018. Those last two successes came courtesy of Chain Of Daisies.
The Sovereign Stakes takes place over a mile in August and it is open to gelding and colts aged three and older. It is usually a competitive affair, with winners including the Clive Cox pair of Kodi Bear and Zonderland, whilst Tullius and Side Glance were both trained by Andrew Balding.
Finally, the Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes takes place in September and it is run over six furlongs and open to two-year-old fillies. Notable winners include Serious Attitude, La Rioja, and Crimplene.
Salisbury Racecourse has three main enclosures, the Bilbury Enclosure, the Grandstand, and the Paddock, and please be aware that the dress code differs slightly.
If attending the Bilbury Enclosure, smart casual is the dress code of the day. This includes trousers or smart jeans and a collared shirt for men. Ties are not required, but anyone wearing shorts, sportswear, or trainers may be refused admission.
The Paddock and Grandstand Enclosures are more relaxed, with racegoers advised to dress appropriately for the weather.
In 1948, the then 12-year-old Lester Piggott had his first ride in public as an apprentice jockey and weighed-in at just five stone.
In 1949, the Winston Churchill owned Colonist II won the Upavon Stakes over a mile.
In 1979, Steve Cauthen rode his first race in England at Salisbury after coming over from America.
Salisbury Racecourse, Netherhampton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 8PN