Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse is situated southwest of the village of the same name in Wrexham County Borough in northeast Wales, approximately 6 miles southeast of Wrexham itself. Geographically, the village Bangor-on-Dee should not be confused with the city of Bangor, Gwynedd, which is over 70 miles away to the northwest. The racecourse is set in picturesque countryside on the banks of the River Dee and has the distinction of being the only course in the country without a grandstand. However, both enclosures are situated on grass banks, which offer panoramic views over the racecourse. The history of racing at Bangor-on-Dee can be traced back to 1858, when members of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn's Hunt held a cross country match on nearby meadows and the first steeplechase, known as the Grand Wynnstay Steeplechase, took place over much the same course as today in 1859. Today, Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse plays host to a total of 16 National Hunt fixtures throughout the year.
For racegoers, Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse offers a choice of two enclosures, known as the Paddock Enclosure and the Course Enclosure. Admission prices are £19 for the Paddock Enclosure and £9 for the Course Enclosure, although admission is free for accompanied children in both cases.
Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse is rural in character and, as such, doesn't offer corporate facilities for conferences, exhibitions and meetings, but nevertheless offers plenty of opportunities for corporate entertaining on race days. All the private facilities at the racecourse are located in the Paddock Enclosure and the largest of them, known as the Marquee, can accommodate between 50 and 500 people. The Dee Suite can accommodate up to 75 people and the Chalets, adjacent to the Parade Ring, can accommodate between 20 and 50 people. All of the private facilities offer private dining and private viewing with all elements of the Paddock Enclosure within easy reach.
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What's unique about the course at Bangor-on-Dee?
Bangor is a fairly sharp, left-handed course approximately one and a half miles in circumference with a run-in of approximately one furlong. The course features many bends, including a particularly tight paddock bend and there are nine fences per circuit.
Notable Races and Events
On February 25, 2009, Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse staged a meeting to celebrate 150 years, to the day, since organised racing first took place. Visitors to the racecourse could view an exhibition chronicling the memorable characters, events and occasions that the course had experienced in its history.
The late Dick Francis, who went on to become Champion Jockey in the 1953/54 season, named Bangor-on-Dee as his favourite racecourse. He had his first ride in public and rode his first winner, Wrenbury Tiger in 1947 and his first treble on the course. According to Francis, he also once turned down a bribe of £50 to pull a horse a Bangor-on-Dee, telling the would-be briber to go to hell.
Fred Archer, arguably the best all-round jockey ever seen, won a two-mile pony race on Maid of Trent at Bangor-on-Dee as a 10-year-old boy in 1868. Archer went on to ride in 8,084 races, winning 2,748 of them, including 21 Classics, before taking his own life at the age of 29 in 1886.
Donald McCain, who trains at Cholmondeley, Cheshire, less than 20 miles from Bangor-on-Dee, often sends his better horses to the course for preparatory races. In November 2011, for example, he sent Peddlers Cross, who'd finished second in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival the preceding March, to Bangor-on-Dee to make his debut over fences. Peddlers Cross jumped well to win the Golden Bear Beginners' Chase, over 2 miles 1½ furlongs, by 4½ lengths at odds of 1/8 on that occasion and returned to Bangor-on-Dee later the same month to win the Malise Nicholson Bright Future Novices' Chase, over the same distance, by 8 lengths at odds of 2/13. Although the future didn't turn out to be that bright for Peddlers Cross over fences, at that time Peddlers Cross was quoted at as short as 7/2 for the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.
Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers
Jason Maguire is the leading jockey at Bangor-on-Dee over the last five seasons with 55 winners from 199 rides, some way ahead of A.P. McCoy with 42 winners from 201 rides and Richard Johnson with 29 winners from 115 rides. Leading National Hunt owner John Patrick “J.P.” McManus has had nearly four times more runners at Bangor-on-Dee than any other owner in the same period and, unsurprisingly, tops the owners' table with 21 winners from 138 runners.
Tim Leslie and Sir Robert Ogden, who own horses with Donald McCain, have also done well historically, with 14 winners from 35 runners and 6 winners from 16 runners respectively. Bangor-on-Dee is a favourite stamping ground for Donald McCain, who is the top trainer during the last five seasons with 67 winners from 341 runners.
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