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Official Review by Robert Pryce, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Chester Racecourse in the oldest horse racing track still in use in England. Horse racing dates back to the early 16th century. It is also the smallest racecourse of significance in England at one mile and one furlong in length.
The racecourse lies on the banks of the River Dee and is adjacent to the Roman city walls. The site was once a harbour during the Roman settlement of the city during the Dark Ages.
For many years the racecourse was just an open field with the first grandstand finished in 1817. The stand was rebuilt in 1899–1900, and was replaced after being destroyed by a fire set by an arsonist in 1985.
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There is a wide choice for food and drinks, ranging from Fish and Chips to Chinese Stir Fry and Pies. For drinks you can choose from normal lager, bitter, cider, ale, soft drinks, tea and coffee. If you do well on the betting, then perhaps a trip to the champagne bar. A bottle of champagne will set you back £75, beer £4, cider £4.80 spirit and mixer £4.70, soft drinks £1.60 for a small £3 for large, tea or coffee £2.
Food costs are £7.50 for the stir fry, £6.50 for a burger, Chips £3 and Fish and Chips £7. The prices are a little expensive compared to other sporting venues and they do not accept credit card payment, so make sure you have cash with you.
There is a restaurant at the racecourse called "1539," named after the first year racing took place in Chester.
As the course is one of the smallest in England, you can see almost all of the action. The many big screens also help you keep up to date as well. All the stands are on one side of the finishing post and all spectators have great views. So which ever ticket you buy your viewing is not affected. The views of the river, Roman walls and historic bridge and mansions are also a great sight, which adds to the overall atmosphere.
Chester is one of the best historic towns in England to visit. With plenty of history and shopping and a vast amount of pubs and restaurants you can not go wrong.
The city centre is small and easy to navigate and everything is within walking distance between the Course and Train station. There are many restaurants and bars to visit. I would recommend Bar Lounge which is only a few minutes from the Racecourse and is good for a pre race meal or post race drinks. Upstairs at the Grill and Hickory's Smokehouse by the river are also great places to eat.
The fans love their racing. You get a mix of old and young, experts and beginners.
There is a good level of noise as the track is small and you can see the whole race develop, especially when the horses come in on the home bend. Many are wearing fancy dresses or suits and there is a friendly atmosphere to the place.
From Chester train station, the racecourse is about a 20 minute walk through the historic town centre or a short taxi ride away.
Car parking is on the open course and only for cars with a car pass. Car passes can be purchased in advance from the ticket office or from booths on race days. A car park pass will cost £7. There is also plenty of parking in and around the centre so finding a space should not be a problem.
If driving in, the racecourse is signposted on all major routes into Chester.
There are plenty of disabled access points and viewing platforms. Toilet facilities are clean and easy to find also. On busy days it can get crowded around the stands, but there is plenty of room once in the infield paddock.
Tickets cost between £10 and £38 for general admission. £10 gets you into the open course which has basic amenities and no access to the paddock. While the tickets in the £30 price range gets you into the Tatterstalls and paddock, and the £38 county stand tickets give you a wider range of amenities and extra access to other parts of the course like the infield paddock and covered seating and standing. The £30 tickets in the Tatterstalls are the best return for investment that you will get as the views and access are brilliant. You get to see the trophy presentations and the Race Horses paraded as well.
Chester Races is very popular, and this is one of the reasons ticket prices are higher compared to some of the other mid ranged courses.
There is plenty to do once at the races. A visit to the winner's enclosure or pre race parade is worth it as well as making a bet at the hundreds of betting posts around the course.
In the main betting section there is also racing TV on to keep up to date with other horse race meetings and greyhound meetings around the country.
Race day tours are also available £15 per adult or £7.50 for children where you can visit the jockey changing room and weigh in room, and you can watch the horses arrive at the stables and see how the stewards and clerks administer the races.
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75 Watergate St
Chester, England CH1 2LB
70 Watergate St
Chester, England CH1 2LA
+44 1244 344883
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