Towcester Racecourse is situated in an area of parkland on the outskirts of the town of Towcester in Northamptonshire, in the East Midlands region of England. The first meeting under National Hunt rules on the racecourse in its current location – just over a mile from the town centre on the A5 London Road – took place in 1928. The Towcester Racecourse Company was formed under the auspices of Lord Hesketh, on whose land the racecourse was built, in the same year. In 1997, a second grandstand, known as the Grace Stand, was built as part of a £7.5 million investment, which funded a raft of improvements to the racecourse and its facilities. Today, Towcester Racecourse plays host to 19 National Hunt fixtures between October and May each year.
For racegoers, Towcester Racecourse offers just a single main enclosure. However, the good news for racegoers is that, with the exception of Boxing Day, Easter Sunday and selected dates in May, when the admission price is £10 per person, admission is free at all other times.
For corporate events, such as conferences, product launches, seminars and training days, Towcester Racecourse offers two purpose build grandstands, known as the Empress Stand and the Grace Stand. The largest room available, Empress, on the first floor of the grandstand of the same name, offers nearly 4,000 square feet of floor space and can accommodate between 180 and 450 people, depending on the exact configuration required. Up to four additional breakout rooms are available, if required and on-site parking, catering and audiovisual equipment hire is included in the facility hire price.
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What's unique about the course at Towcester?
Towcester is a right-handed, undulating, testing square, approximately a mile and three quarters around, with a run-in of approximately a furlong. There are ten, relatively easy fences per circuit, two of which are in the home straight.
However, what sets Towcester apart is the steep climb throughout the last mile, all the way to the winning post and beyond. Towcester has the distinction of being the stiffest National Hunt course in the country and places unusual demands on stamina, especially when the going is soft.
Notable Races and Events
Being a fairly small National Hunt venue, Towcester lacks the lucrative prize money of some of its larger competitors. The most valuable races of the year are the Haygain Hay Steamers Healthy Forage Beginners' Chase, run over 3 miles 110 yards in November and the Aspers Casino Northampton Beginners' Chase, run over 2 miles 3 furlongs 110 yards in December.
The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Imperial Commander, who hadn't raced since bursting a blood vessel when defending his title the following year, worked at Towcester Racecourse in November 2012 in preparation for the Betfair Chase at Haydock. Although he came through that piece of work with flying colours, he missed the Betfair Chase with a small fracture in his hind leg and, although only narrowly beaten in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham the following January, he also missed the Cheltenham Gold Cup with a lung infection.
When he did race again, in the Grand National, he was pulled up before Becher's Brook on the second circuit.
Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers
Tony McCoy, who was crowned Champion Jockey for the eighteenth year in a row at the end of the 2012/13 National Hunt season, is the leading rider at Towcester over the last five seasons with 21 winners from 86 rides. Old adversaries Richard Johnson and Jason Maguire are just a few behind, with 18 winners from 67 rides and 17 winners from 87 rides, respectively. Cheltenham trainers Jonjo O'Neill, with 15 winners from 100 runners and leading National Hunt owner John McManus, with 13 winners from 64 runners are collectively responsible for many of the horses that Tony McCoy rides at Towcester and top their respective tables for the last five seasons.
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