Worcester Racecourse is set in 100 acres of land on the banks of the River Severn, less than a mile from the city centre of Worcester, the county town of Worcestershire in the West Midlands region of England. Racing has taken place on the course in its current location, at Pitchcroft, since 1718, making it one of the oldest in the country. Worcester Racecourse staged Flat racing until 1966 but, with the advent of summer jumping in 1995, is nowadays a popular National Hunt venue, staging 17 fixtures all year round. In 2000, the running of the racecourse was taken over by Arena Leisure plc, although the City Council owns the land and maintains the grass area in the centre of the course.
Admission prices are £16 per person in the County Enclosure and £7 per person in the Centre Enclosure, although picnic parking, popular with families, is also available in the centre of the course at £7 per car. Concessions are available for senior citizens on production of a senior discount card and admission is free for accompanied children.
For indoor corporate events, such as conferences and meetings, Worcester Racecourse offers a choice of six conference suites, the largest of which are capable of accommodating up to 150, 200 or 300 people, depending on the configuration of the space. The three largest suites are suitable for exhibitions, product launches and trade fairs but, in all cases, conference equipment, including audiovisual, is included in the price of room hire. Large areas of grassland and hard standing are also available outdoors.
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What's unique about the course at Worcester?
The course at Worcester consists of a left-handed, flat, galloping oval, approximately a mile and five furlongs around. There are nine, relatively easy fences per circuit, four of which are in the home straight and there is a run-in of approximately a furlong.
Notable Races and Events
The two most valuable races of the year are both handicap chases. The Ladbrokes Download The App Handicap Chase, worth £12,660 to the winner, is run over 2 miles ½ furlong in May. In 2013, the race was won by Nicky Henderson's Anquetta, who went on to win again, off a 5lb higher mark, at Newton Abbott next time and still held every chance when falling at the third last, off a 13lb higher mark, at Stratford the time after.
Slightly later in the season, in June, the Valerie Lewis Memorial Handicap Chase, worth £6,330 to the winner, is run over 2 miles 4 furlongs. In 2013, the race was won by the 9-year-old Pure Faith, trained in Pembrokeshire by Peter Bowen, at odds of 20/1. However, the Anshan gelding proved that performance was no fluke with a fast finishing second, when well backed, in a better race at Stratford-upon-Avon next time.
Flat racing ceased at Worcester Racecourse in 1966 but, in 1984, the racecourse executive submitted an application to the Jockey Club for the reintroduction of Flat fixtures. Suffice to say, the application was rejected.
The proximity of Worcester Racecourse to the River Severn can prove troublesome during the winter months. The high water table in the area means that the going can become extremely testing and, if the river rises by more than three feet, the racecourse becomes flooded. Indeed, as recently as December 2012 the British press published a photograph of a canoeist paddling past the winning post on the flooded racecourse.
Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers
Tony McCoy, Jonjo O'Neill and John McManus are head and shoulders above the opposition in their respective tables at Worcester over the last five seasons. Tony McCoy is the leading jockey with 73 winners from 272 rides, 51 winners more than his nearest pursuer, Richard Johnson. Jonjo O'Neill is leading trainer with 42 winners from 218 runners, giving him a lead of 19 winners over Tim Vaughan and John McManus is leading owner with 35 winners from 156 runners, 31 winners more than anyone else.
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