Yarmouth Racecourse officially celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2015, though horse racing may well have taken place before that in the surrounding area or on the beach at Great Yarmouth. However, whilst Nelson’s Monument at South Denes was the original site for the racecourse, it moved to its current home at North Denes in 1920.
Nowadays, one of Norfolk’s most popular horse racing tracks stages flat racing throughout the summer, with the three-day Eastern Meeting being the highlight of a fixture list that normally contains around 23 days of racing each year.
Yarmouth’s racing highlight is the John Musker Stakes, which takes place during the Eastern Meeting, whilst the course also stages a number of other fun and themed fixtures. These include Ladies’ Day and Family Day, whilst a number of meetings feature live music afterwards. Meanwhile, the fair nature of the course means it attracts many useful horses to run in maidens, with stars like Dubai Millennium, Ouija Board, Wilko, and Raven’s Pass all winning here before going on to global success.
When racing is not taking place, Yarmouth Racecourse also stages a variety of corporate and social events, with its Lord Nelson Grandstand and hospitality boxes very popular venues.
Course Type: Flat
Current Owner: Arena Racing Company
Prior to 2015, nature had caused Yarmouth Racecourse to develop a variety of subtle ridges, but these were flattened in 2015 to make it one of the flattest and fairest courses in the country. The round track is oval-shaped, and its narrow nature means the bends are quite sharp. It measures around 13-furlongs, but a five-furlongs run-in means there are seldom any hard-luck stories, apart from when a jockey is careless enough to get stuck on the far rail for far too long. A separate chute also means that races up to a mile are run on a straight course, which is one of the reasons it attracts many decent horses.
The John Musker Stakes is Yarmouth’s main highlight of the year and it is a Listed Race for fillies and mares aged three and older that takes place over a distance of 1 mile 2 furlongs and 23 yards. The race was first run in 1993, and three-year-olds have by far the best record in the race, having won 20 of the 26 renewals run up to 2018.
Trainer Roger Varian also has an excellent record in the race as he’s trained the winners of it in 2014, 2015, and 2018 with Hadaatha, Talmada, and Sheikha Reika. Meanwhile, other notable winners include So MI Dar and Beautiful Morning. The race has also been won by lots of the top jockeys, with the likes of Ryan Moore, Paul Hanagan, William Buick, Frankie Dettori, and Andrea Atzeni all on the scoresheet in recent years.
There is no formal dress code at Yarmouth Racecourse but, if you’re in any doubt about what to wear, smart casual is always a safe bet. If you’re attending the Premier Enclosure, hospitality areas or restaurants, smart casual is a must. This includes tailored shorts and smart jeans, but anyone wearing ripped jeans, casual shorts, trainers, or sportswear is likely to be refused admission.
The Grandstand is even more relaxed, with punters asked to consider the weather when choosing their outfit. However, please note, anyone wearing an item of clothing that may cause offence will be asked to leave.
There are also some special fixtures were racegoers dress up for the occasion. The main one is Ladies’ Day, when ladies like to wear stylish dresses, with some choosing to wear hats. Many men also like to dress up to feel part of this occasion.
Horse racing was originally thought to be part of Yarmouth’s annual fair, where it was part of the entertainment alongside donkey racing and trying to catch a soaped pig.
Great Yarmouth Racecourse, Jellicoe Road, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR30 4AU