Horse racing has been taking place in or around Wetherby for a few centuries, with racing taking part at the current Wetherby Racecourse since 1891. The Braham Grandstand was added in 1906 and is still a feature of the course.
Wetherby currently stages both flat racing and jumps racing, hosting around 19 meetings a year. The jumps season traditionally kicks-off in October, with the two-day Charlie Hall Meeting taking place at the end of October or early November. This meeting features the Grade 1 Charlie Hall Chase and the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle. There is also another popular two-day meeting on the 26th and 27th of December called the 188bet Christmas Meeting, which features the Rowland Meryick Handicap Chase and the Castleford Chase. William Hill then sponsor February’s fun Medieval Raceday, which features the Towton Novices’ Chase. Meanwhile, popular flat racing meetings include Ladies’ Day and April’s Family Day which features the Mascot Gold Cup.
Wetherby Racecourse also boasts state-of-the-art conference facilities, with space for up to 600 guests or 300 formally seated banquet-style guests. The course also stages special occasions and exhibitions.
Course Type: Jumps and Flat
Current Owner: The Wetherby Steeplechase Committee Ltd
Wetherby is a left-handed oval-shaped track with two long straights and galloping bends. Jumpers tend to need a good blend of speed and stamina, as it often helps to be able to adopt a good early position close to the rail, but there’s still a long way to go when they turn into the home-straight. There are nine fences to a circuit on the chase course, with five fences in the back straight and four in the home-straight. The fences do take some jumping but are generally considered fair. Races can also change dramatically in the home straight, though it’s rare for horse to come from too far behind, unless the front-runners have gone off far too fast.
When the jumps season finished, flat races take part on the hurdles course, which measures round 12-furlong in length. All races, even sprint races, are run around at least one bend, so it’s usually beneficial to be drawn low and to race handily.
Wetherby Racecourse has always been held in high-regard as is one of the best jumps track in the North of England. It has six notable races that have been won by some of the stars of jumps racing. These races are the Wetherby Mares’ Hurdle, West Yorkshire Hurdle, Charlie Hall Chase, Rowland Meyrick Chase, Castleford Chase, and the Towton Novices’ Chase.
The Wetherby Mares’ Hurdle is a Listed Race run over 2 miles. It was only added to the program in 2007, but has already been won by popular horses such as Cockney Sparrow, La Bague Au Roi, and Lady Buttons.
The West Yorkshire Hurdle is run over 3 miles and this Grade 2 Hurdle has been won by two future Stayers’ Hurdle Winners in Inglis Drever and Cole Harden, whilst the popular trio of Boss Doyle, Fair Along, and Tidal Bay all won the race twice.
The Grade 1 Charlie Hall Chase is Wetherby’s big attraction, with this 3-mile chase providing seasoned chasers with a great opportunity to pick-up a nice early-season prize. The race has attracted plenty of great horses over the years, with winners including Wayward Lad, Burrough Hill Lad, Forgive ’n Forget, Barton Bank, One Man, See More Business, Silviniaco Conti, Cue Card, and Bristol De Mai.
The three-mile Rowland Meryick Chase has also been won by some equine stars including the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner The Thinker, whist Yahoo came second to the great Desert Orchid in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Meanwhile, Badsworth Boy and Viking Flagship are both previous winners of the 2-mile Castleford Chase.
The Towton Novices’ Chase is regarded as a potential stepping stone for future stars, and the first ever running was won by subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Mr Mulligan. Other winners to go on to bigger successes include Scottish Grand National winner Wayward Lad and Welsh Grand National winner Halcon Genelardais.
Wetherby Racecourse does not enforce a formal dress code in any of its enclosures. However, racegoers with tickets for the Premier Enclosure are asked to adhere to the smart casual ambience. Racegoers are also asked to consider the weather and dress accordingly.
In 2015, Wetherby Racecourse became the latest dual-purpose racecourse in England when it decided to add flat racing meetings to its historic list of jumps racing meetings.
In 2006, Wetherby racecourse became the hosts of the largest mascot race in the world – the Mascot Gold Cup, which now traditionally takes place in April at Wetherby’s Family Day Meeting.
The Wetherby Steeplechase Committee Ltd, The Racecourse, York Road, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS22 5EJ
01937 582 035