Chester Racecourse has the distinction in the Guinness Book of Records as officially being the oldest racecourse still in use. This historic landmark is located in North-west England on the banks of the River Dee in Chester, Cheshire.
Only flat racing takes place at the venue, with about 14 race meets taking place each year which is a top-rated course and has often been voted the best racecourse in England by The Racegoers Club. This is partly due to its history and because crowds can gather to watch the races free from the ancient city walls that border the course. Another plus is that racegoers who do pay entry can get a far closer view of the action than many other racecourses in the country. It is also very close to bars, restaurants and hotels, making the venue particularly attractive for large gatherings. Most of Chester’s notable races come round during the racing festival in May:
Listed Cheshire Oaks for 3-year-old fillies run over 2281 metres
Group 3 Chester Vase for 3-year-olds run over 2472 metres
Group 3 Ormonde Stakes for 4-years-olds+ run over 2692 metres
Listed Dee Stakes for 3-year-olds run over 2076 metres
Group 2 Huxley Stakes for 4-year-olds+ run over 2076 metres
Chester Cup Handicap for 4-year-olds+ run over 3749 metres
Chester Racecourse History
Before horse racing, football took place on the grounds, and the site was home to the infamously violent Goteddsday football match. After a public outcry, the sport was replaced by horse racing, with the first race occurring in February 1539. Interestingly enough, the name of the Mayor at the time – Henry Gee, led to the popularisation of the term “gee-gee” for horses.
Races then traditionally took place only on Shrove Tuesday, but later, St. Georges Day was added as race day. During medieval times, racing thrived in Chester, with winners being awarded a set of decorative bells called “Chester Bells”, which were used decoratively on the horse’s bridle. In later years, the “Grosvenor Gold Cup” was given to victors. In the mid-1700s, the May Festival began being an annual event, which is still celebrated today.
Grandstands were only completed in 1900, a few short years after the first entrance fees for spectators were charged. This grandstand was only replaced in 1985 after being destroyed by arson. In 2008, a restaurant was opened at the venue, which was named “1539” in honour of the starting date of horse racing at the course. Then in 2012, Tote betting terminals were replaced by the courses in house Chesterbet system. Finally, in 2013 the addition of The White Horse Pub further cemented the popularity of the racecourse.
Buffalo Bill’s wild west show delighted audiences at the venue in 1903
2006 say supergroup Westlife hold a concert at Chester.
Notably, with a circumference of only approximately 1800 metres, Chester is the smalled racecourse in England. As mentioned, only falt racing takes place on this iconic left-handed track. Chester has notoriously tight bends and an incredibly short run-in of only 218 metres. Many newcomers struggle to negotiate the tight turns, which seem to be for the entire race. Whether it be Newmarket, Ascot or any other course – horses that come from racing at a different venue are always in for a shock.This tends to produce track specialists in the form of horses and jockeys that thrive under these adverse conditions. There is a distinctive low draw advantage which is most notable in sprint races.
When punting at Chester, one needs to pay extra attention to horses and jockeys with a good strike at the course or newcomers who may be suited to the tight bends and short run in. There are many reasons why Chester racing is so popular to have a bet on – and the anomalies of the track are one of them. Fortunately, this sometimes leads to inflated odds of horse’s that may have the correct characteristics to thrive. So keep your eyes peeled and study your racecard for value – and grab one of these free bets or betting bonuses to give yourself the best chance at making a profit: