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This page has a guide to the course characteristics, a preference list to the courses, a guide (sometimes even an up to date one!) to the tracks, and an FAQ on the origins of this site
Course Characteristics
 Course Rankings
The following scores, from a maximum of 113, are devised by an arcane formula too complex to detail here
So there is a lot of trust involved...

92   Fakenham
91   Hexham
88   Market Rasen
87   Perth
83   Huntingdon
82   Wincanton
79   Plumpton
77   Kempton
76   Ludlow
75   Taunton
72   Cartmel
71   Sandown
70   Kelso
68   Bangor
67   Cheltenham
62   Southwell
61   Musselburgh
60   Lingfield
59   Ayr
57   Fontwell
54   Leicester
52   Newton Abbot
51   Sedgefield
50   Wetherby
48   Ffos Las
47   Catterick
46   Warwick
44  Carlisle
43   Uttoxeter
42   Stratford
40   Newbury
39   Exeter
34   Doncaster
33   Towcester
29   Worcester
24   Haydock
23   Newcastle
18   Ascot
11   Chepstow
Below are listed the course characteristics, with regards to how they are applied when fitting preferred conditions to the selections.
LH/RH:    Left or Right Handed
Lev/Und:    Level or Undulating
Shp/Esy/Gal:    Sharp, Easy or Galloping, reflects the tightness of the bends
Stiff:    There is a stiff climb to the finish, or otherwise strenuous final stretch
Aintree            LH Shp Lev
Aintree Natl            LH Gal Lev
Ascot            RH Gal Lev (stiff)
Ayr             LH Gal Lev
Bangor           LH Shp Lev
Carlisle            RH Esy Und (stiff)
Cartmel            LH Shp Und (stiff)
Catterick            LH Shp Lev
Cheltenham             LH Gal Und (stiff)
Doncaster             LH Gal Lev
Exeter            RH Esy Und (stiff)
Fakenham          LH Shp Und
Ffos Las            LH Gal Lev
Fontwell Hur             LH Shp Lev
Fontwell Chs           Fig8 Shp Lev
Haydock            LH Gal Lev
Hereford            RH Esy Lev
Hexham            LH Esy Und (stiff)
Huntingdon            RH Esy Lev
Kelso            LH Shp Lev (stiff)
Kempton            RH Shp Lev
Leicester            RH Gal Lev (stiff)
Lingfield            LH Shp Und
Ludlow            RH Esy Lev
Market Rasen            RH Shp Und
Musselburgh            RH Shp Lev
Newbury            LH Gal Lev
Newcastle            LH Gal Lev (stiff)
Newton Abbot            LH Shp Lev
Perth            RH Esy Lev
Plumpton            LH Shp Und
Sandown            RH Esy Lev (stiff)
Sedgefield            LH Shp Und
Southwell            LH Shp Lev
Stratford            LH Shp Lev
Taunton            RH Shp Lev
Towcester            RH Esy Und (stiff)
Uttoxeter            LH Esy Lev
Warwick            LH Esy Und
Wetherby            LH Gal Lev
Wincanton            RH Gal Lev
Worcester            LH Gal Lev
BANGOR (2014): Notoriously lacking in stands, the spectators stand on grass banks that run alongside the course. In late summer, the crops in the middle of the course can be a slight obstruction to the viewing - but then again it is less likely to rain at that time of year. There are plenty of gentle turns as the course is sort of pear-shaped, which is reminiscent of nearly every bet I have had when visiting there. Key travel advice is that Bangor-on-Dee and Bangor-Is-Y-Coed are the same place.

CARLISLE (2012): Has quite a steep uphill climb to the line, but it is not nearly as long as that at Towcester. However, when the ground is soft (which seems par for the course after August) any horses with stamina limitations will be truly found out. The plateau near the winning line does make getting a good view of all the obstacles hard as the field wanders out of view behind the hilltop for a while. The best spot is by the last fence, but if more than about a dozen people stand there, the advantage is cancelled. The facilities are fairly decent and up to date, but need to be as a hilltop in Cumbria can be predictably rather windy.

CARTMEL (2011): Due to racing around bank holidays and an average crowd over five figures cramming into a small Lake District settlement, Cartmel has an odd mystique about it. There is a deceptive uphill finish on the half-mile (not a misprint) run-in. However, go for the occasion as a wood and fun fairs hide much of the course from normal sight, unless standing on the rocky outcrop just after the last hurdle. The mid-July meeting used to be a good day for a less hectic taster, but has been moved from midweek to Saturday, which is not helpful. Cark station has a bus service to the course, but for anyone not of limited mobility, it is a pleasant walk anyway.

CATTERICK (1992): It is flattish, with good viewing, but no outstanding characteristics. The facilities were sufficient but unspectacular. The two mile hurdles in particular often attract big fields, usually a sign that the course is not posing any tricky questions to the participants, so other than over-crowding, there are no excuses for the defeated.

EXETER (2016): Or, to give it it's full name, Haldon Steeplechases at Exeter Racecourse, staged by the Devon & Exeter Races. Or something equally puffy. The course is on top of a very tall hill, so is predictably undulating and testing. The end of the back straight is quite steep, and the home straight is a long, steady rise to the line. Viewing is terrible at the best of times, as the field disappears behind the crest of the hill and when the caravan park in the middle of the course is in use, it is even worse. The course is also prone to fog, so any day that you go and see everything has to be considered a bonus! In fairness, viewing is about the only thing wrong with the place. A bus runs from Exeter St David's station to the course on race days, but tracking down times is difficult.

FAKENHAM (2016): Is a very tight track and this compactness is also reflected in the stands - the crowds for a Sunday meeting tend to be greater than can be comfortably coped with. The turns and short straights on a course barely a mile square often mean that the races are run at quite a steady pace, so stamina is not at a premium, although the short, sharp rise into the home straight can catch out the unwary or timid. One oddity is that in three mile hurdles, the last flight is actually jumped four times. This has been known to catch out inexperienced jockeys occasionally, winning them a predictably raucous reception as they make their way back to the weighing room - and even more experienced riders of late...

FFOS LAS (2011): Lacks a bit in the way of facilities, with just one small stand, but races run around the edge of a great big hole in the ground so perhaps fear of subsidence hindered the building plans. The racing part of the land is dead flat and billiard table pristine, but viewing must be iffy on busy days due to the limited amount of elevated view points. The nearest station is Kidwelly, only a mile or so away - but despite the geographic proximity, a half hour journey from Swansea. Must be all those pesky dragons in the engine. There is also a bus from Swansea that stops outside the course, but if the train is any use as a guide, how long must that take? If someone were able to do an inaccessibility chart for all racecourses compared to population locations, it is odds-on that Ffos Las comes out top. Food options are very, very limited, presumably because visitors bring a packed lunch for the journey.

FOLKESTONE (2012): Currently unused due to a planning dispute between the owners and the local council. The course suffered for years from the owners promising big things but doing zero. It used to be famous for having chases with hardly any finishers when it was soft (I recall one meeting when three chases contested by about twenty runners only saw five complete), but improvements in the ground conditions ended that. The station next to the course, Westenhanger, takes an inexplicably long time to get to, so if it reopens, expect car to remain the best option.

FONTWELL PARK (2016): Is a very tight mile circuit, oval on the hurdles course, figure of eight on the chase course. The minimum trip here is 2m 2f, and the last furlong is uphill with a left to right camber, which often catches out tired horses or non-stayers. Travel by train takes you to Barnham, in the wilds of Sussex, from where a bus is laid on to the course. The pub opposite the station can get quite busy, but back under the railway bridge is a very pleasant alternative, the Murrell Arms. This used to be the best viewing track in the country, bin recent years they seem hell-bent on ruining it, blocking off the best viewing points and putting fun fairs in the middle of the track and all the support vehicles at the best spot in the intersection, so that large parts of the far side are obscured. Whoever is in charge appears to have a very low opinion of people who attend for the purpose of actually watching races - the newest stand in the Premier Enclosure is a complete waste of money for anyone who wants to get a good view of the racing and stay dry(ish) in bad weather. Admission prices vary but are exorbitant on some days.

HEREFORD (2011): Unused at present, as Northern Racing asset stripped all the best fixtures to their other courses and then moaned that they could not make it profitable. As they only lease the course from the local council, there has to be hope that someone competent and honest will have a chance to make a go of it. It should be a pleasant rural venue, but is in fact tucked in between a sports centre and an industrial estate. The track is a flatish square, so the view of the racing is good, although to get a slight bit of elevation means standing well back from the rails, which provides a slightly odd atmosphere.

HEXHAM (2012): Is situated on an exposed hilltop, so races in autumn and spring. There are no conventional stands, but the track is below the the enclosures, so the view is perfectly good. The turn out of the back straight features a short sharp climb, so all races contain a significant test of stamina, and the four mile chase staged in mid-March is only ever won by animals of remarkable endurance. There is a station at Hexham, but it lies right at the bottom of the hill and is a long, steep climb for those tackling it by foot - a bus service is provided. In order to minimise casualties from exposure and frostbite, the meetings tend to be in spring and autumn.

HUNTINGDON (2016): Is a big flat ovalish track which attracts some big fields and often has races run at a strong pace. The view from the stands is now perfect as the ancient buildings in the middle of the course are no longer a teasing blockage. The open ditch is in front of the stands, which generally provokes plenty of oohs and aahs from the crowd. Ideally avoid horses best at further and liable to be outpaced. However, the congenial topography of the course has seen some very decent horses run in bumpers there. It is situated outside the town, near the A1, but a free shuttle taxi is laid on to transport rail travellers - this has so far avoided the tendency of the previous bus service to not leave the course until the train (hourly at weekends and evenings) had just departed.

KELSO (2003): Is a tight little track, with two back straights. The hurdle course stays on the same level as the middle of the course, but the chase course runs along a piece of raised ground just beyond where the hurdlers go. There is also a sharp dip on the turn away from the stands, and the run to the winning post is a long, steep uphill stretch. Oddly enough, the horses do not look to find it as tough as Carlisle or Towcester, although to the naked eye it seems not far short in the challenge. Certainly it is sufficient to expose any stamina limitations. The best view can be had from the roof of the trackside buildings, unless vertigo is a problem! Rail travel is a nightmare as the nearest station is Berwick-on-Tweed (well over twenty miles away and not even in the same country since Anglo-Saxon times, when Kelso was in Northumbria). The Waverley line from Edinburgh through the Borders is being rebuilt, but that will take time.

LEICESTER (2014): Used to have one unique feature, in that there were more hurdles on the home straight than fences. Thus proving that unique does not necessarily mean interesting. It is another course where the run to the line is a severe uphill test, and the angle of the slope means that the best all round view is probably from the raised ground by the last fence, rather than in the stands. The all-chase meeting in late February or early March is usually good entertainment and well supported for runners. Viewing is imperfect because of the angle of the slope on which it is built in comparison to the dips, although on a dry way, wandering away from the stands helps.. The back straight looks to be quite undulating, but possibly because it is a long way from the finish and jockeys are saving energy for the climb by going steadily, flat track specialists seem to handle it quite well. If driving there from afar, getting back onto the M1 involves using the main road around the south of the city, and can be tiresome in the evening rush hour.

LINGFIELD (2016): Still has the several scheduled jumps meeting, but it is very much ground permitting and arranging a trip is a gamble in itself. Since the all-weather was installed, some weird going reports have been issued, the best being soft, good to firm back straight. The course is not short but has quite tight bends, and the most notable feature is the short, sharp hill that is climbed and descended approaching the home turn, making the final bend very tricky for hurdlers. The bars and food outlets are designed to cope with a Saturday evening in the summer, so are generally unpressured on a winter's day. The station is a very short walk from the entrance, with a direct footpath linking the two.

LUDLOW (2013): Is a big tease for rail travellers as the line actually runs right behind the stands, but the nearest stop is a couple of miles away in the town itself. The main access road runs right through the middle of the course, which looks like a golf course until you nearly drive into one of the fences whilst trying to spot the way in (or is that just me?). The best view was from the roof of the stand, which was not well indicated as an option, which affords a clear sight over the vegetation and humps in place to try and liven up the golf course. It is a very flat course which does not put too much emphasis on stamina, but can result in big fields. It rarely seems to get very soft, so frost is more likely to threaten a meeting than water.

MARKET RASEN (2016): Rates very highly amongst small tracks as plenty of time and effort goes into keeping things organised and the place spick and span. It has developed a reputation as a good venue for summer jumping with a variety of valuable races staged. The crowds are rarely low, although it is capable of handling a large turnout. Viewing wise, the stands can get a bit full (although part of the Silver Ring stand is actually in Tatts, and not many people notice this), but the area between bookies and parade ring affords an equally good sight of what is going on. Those indoctrinated to the view that Lincolnshire is part of a dead flat plain that goes on via Holland, Germany, Poland and Belarus to the Urals will find Market Rasen challenging to their preconceptions. The station is walkable from the course, the trains thin out quite quickly in the evening at weekends, so getting there is much easier than getting back.

MUSSELBURGH (1991): Must be the lowest course above sea-level in the country, as it is almost on the beach. This does have the effect of making soft ground very rare, as even when it rains heavily, the water drains away quickly. So in the depths of winter, when meetings are being lost left, right and centre, every so often Musselburgh pops up to save the day. The track is a level oval, with the best view being from the stands. Apart from that, it is a course lacking in distinctive features, but without anything to condemn it either. There is a risk of it being ruined by becoming an all-weather track, which is odd, as it seems to handle almost all-weathers at the moment...

NEWTON ABBOT (2016): Only has one 'T' at the end of it's name, despite numerous attempts to spell it otherwise. In a similar vein, the American city is Cincinnati - 3 'N's and only 1 'T' - but is mispelled even more frequently. Anyway, back to the point in hand. This is a flat, fairly nondescript track - nothing wrong with it, but no outstanding features either - the greyhound track next to the second last is now sadly defunct. Another disappeared feature of the course was that they once painted the hurdles green. Inter-city trains run parallel with the back straight, but as they are First Great Western, sightings are a rarity. The August meetings can be a bit over crowded and hysterical, and the fact that the cheapest admission area does not permit seeing the horses in the paddock is a touch nineteenth century, but other than that it is OK.

PERTH (2007): Does not race all that often, presumably due to being so far north, but those meetings that it does hold are very well supported, and the tendency is to clump them into two or three day bursts. It is set in the grounds of Scone Palace, so is generally a pleasant place to be, although it gets very crowded on the busiest days (April festival) and the flatness of the circuit makes the view from ground level indifferent unless you are right on the rails. The station is not terribly convenient for the course being a separated by a few miles and a rather large, rarely-bridged river, but a bus service runs to and from Mill Street in the town centre. Attendance does give an general sense of well-being, and it well worth a visit.

PLUMPTON (2016): Sits on the side of one of the South Downs, so the last 3 furlongs of the 1m 1f circuit are uphill. The drainage has been progressively overhauled and the days of the truly desperate slog to the line may be gone - it is now only fairly desperate. The downhill stretch makes the two fences at the bottom of the hill tricky as the horses are often going too fast. In the modern transport era, more trains make scheduled stops at the station adjoining the home turn, eliminating the days of the legendary non-stopping train. The facilities are compact and struggle a bit on busy days, not helped by a worrying trend since 2012 of petty bureaucracy and lack of common sense creeping in at a venue whose strength was formerly avoiding them. Viewing is excellent, even from the railway footbridge, for the cheapskate at heart.

SEDGEFIELD (2005): The best clue to the nature of the track comes from the betting ring - undulating and rising towards the finish. On the racing surface, the short rise to the line follows what is a mostly downhill home straight. Viewing is general reasonable although the field an disappear in clouds of dust (summer) or sand (winter) when heading away from you. Proximity to the A1 means that road travel is much easier than rail. Like many Arc courses, it tends to be overused at times and bad weather forces the ground staff to attempt miracles on a tuppeny-ha'penny budget. On the racing front, it tends to throw up course specialists, and the number of meetings gives them plenty of chances to rack up the wins.

SOUTHWELL (2016): Is a flat, one mile oval inside the all-weather flat course. However, the large terraced areas in the stands makes for an excellent view even on a busy Saturday evening, with no obstructions in the middle. The jump track is quite narrow, so portable fences and hurdles are used and both types of race are run on the same ground - making for a quite cut up surface by the end of a wet day. It may be the placement of the fences or the way the races are run, but there seem to be plenty of failures to get round in the chases, so avoid suspect jumpers, and the layout strongly favours front-runners or those that can sit on the heels of the leader in bigger fields. The 'mini-fence' style hurdles discourage the occasional horse, but are not often a problem. Rolleston station is right next to the track, on the Newark to Nottingham line (or vice versa).

STRATFORD (2015): Is another course where the view is impaired by buildings in the middle of the track and also the design flaws of the new stand - the terracing is not nearly high enough. The next best vantage point is on the rise in the back straight, but this does exclude the winning line! Avoiding the manically busy summer weekend meetings is recommended. However, when summer jumping begins, this is the local course for anyone south or east of Warwickshire - a huge chunk of the population. As far as races go, it is quite tight and mostly level. The home straight is short but has two obstacles, so it is common to see jockeys make a move after three out - if your horse is struggling at that point, do not give up quite yet. At the station taxis seem to be in short supply but the direct route to the course along the cycle path is less than a mile walk, which is only a disaster on a really hot day.

TAUNTON (2012): Is set just outside the town, over the M5 and with a pleasant backdrop across the Blackdown Hills. The track is mostly flat but with a sudden drop in the back straight and a rise opposite it between the last two fences. Obviously a certain Mr Pipe had plenty of runners here as it is on his doorstep, and since then the track has tried, successfully, to get some decent hurdlers turning up. Every so often it throws up a really decent novice race. The facilities are sufficient for a normal days, but can be a little overcrowded for an evening meeting. Being quite narrow, the safety limits prevent huge fields, but in dry spells the ground can get very firm and thin them out further.

TOWCESTER (2016): Adding the dog track has completely ruined the view with half of the track totally out of sight. Admission is free but for those wishing to have a beer on course, it is especially remote from public transport, and the bus services to Milton Keynes or Northampton do not go on that late or run too frequently. So if you are local it is fine, but why make the effort to travel for the privilege of watching the racing on television?

UTTOXETER (2016): Has elevated itself to the borderline between a small and a big course, although the high prize-money days tend to revolve around a few key days that usually involve a big staying chase. As the crowds have risen, the viewing has suffered as the best vantage points get taken quickly and a variety of buildings, ads, caravan parks etc. lie in the middle of the course. These are mostly at the stands end, so the last three-quarters of a lap are not hidden. The stopgap solution is to stand on the grassy knoll by the second last fence - rifles not permitted in case a US president ambles by. What does work surprisingly well is the way all the old wooden buildings around the parade ring have been turned into hospitality boxes and bars by going for an out-of-place alpine decor. In deep mid-winter it could inspire people to want to go skiing. The track itself is left-handed with easy turns, but the home not-very-straight is actually a gentle parabola from the final bend and horses that tend to jump even a little bit to the right are severely disadvantaged. Frequent use and excess watering can cause absurdly testing conditions when the rains come.

WARWICK (2016): Has a large hill in the middle of the course, but there is an area of about three square yards from which all fences and hurdles are visible. What nefarious deeds were committed behind the hill before there were television pictures of every spot? The ascent occurs just after the winning line on what is an almost triangular course, so the overall profile is not of a testing venue. The facilities were subject to a big overhaul not all that long ago, and provide plenty of solid viewing positions and catering points. Alas, the last visit did involve witnessing a moment of supreme jobsworthery, when a racegoer was instructed not to stand in a place which was completely out of harms way and obstructed nobody nor any access, which is a ominous sign. From 2015, Warwick will be flat racing-free, which has to be a plus in anyone's book.

WINCANTON (2016): Does lay on some valuable races which attract small numbers of very good horses, but is basically a small country course at heart - on the big days the low, roofed stands can get quite crowded - and dark. The last quarter of a mile or so is downhill, so a less taxing challenge of stamina is hard to find. The back straight is a long hilltop, which means the view of the action is a bit askew, but the runners can be silhouetted in a quite a spectacular manner on occasions. With one major chase sponsored by Hall & Woodhouse, the beer on course is well up to par. There is a free bus from Templecombe station, but pre-race performance is erratic, and advertised departure times cannot be relied upon.

WORCESTER (2016): This is a nearly track in most aspects. The view is nearly good, as runners are hidden on the bend out of the home straight, and behind the canoe club/bar for those unable to get high enough in the nearly big enough stands. The fields tend to be nearly impossibly huge, and the ground is nearly reliably good, except when the proximity to the river and changeable weather messes up watering plans. The station (which endures a miserably unreliable service) is nearly on the doorstep, and the traffic in the middle of Worcester (the course is nearly in the centre of town) is nearly immobile on a Saturday. On the upside, the long straights and gentle turns used to attract some nice young horses, especially in bumpers, but recent wet years and floods seem to have made the going inconsistent and those sorts avoid the place. The once perfectly level arena is starting to develop some minor undulations, thanks to the River Severn.
The Smaller Courses (date of last visit in brackets in case info is obsolete)
The Larger Courses
ASCOT (2010): Looks very modern after the redevelopment, but is all very soulless and impersonal, and the distance between stands and track is still too far to feel involved. The train from London stops at about 14 million stations, so takes far longer than might be imagined for the location. Food and drink prices once inside are a rip-off, although not as bad as Wembley. The upside is that at a normal jumps meeting, there are more than enough facilities to go round, and the amphitheatre style parade ring does ensure a good view of the horses before the race for people of all shapes and sizes. The most inefficient things ever witnessed on a racecourse happen here. At the foot of one escalator up to the second floor of the stand there was a person checking badges for permitted access. At the top of the escalator there was another person checking them. Nice to know Ascot have so much money to waste. Be amazed and confused at the number of people that turn up, sit in their club room overlooking the paddock and never watch a race.

AINTREE: The one jumps course never visited, although feedback from people who have says that it is nothing to get excited about, and only the atmosphere at the Grand National meeting carries the day. There are some pleasant parts of Lancashire, but the urbanised southern part of the county is not normally included amongst them.

AYR (1994): Only visited for the Scottish National. It was horrendously overcrowded. On any other day, it gives the impression that viewing and facilities would be fairly reasonable, although financial constraints have limited the ability of the course to improve upon them in the meantime. If all the people that turned out for the big April meeting supported a few extra meetings in the year, things would be much healthier. Typical west of Scotland weather means that many of the other fixtures are blighted by waterlogging.

CHELTENHAM (2009): Not to much can be added to what everyone already knows about Cheltenham: Cleeve Hill, Arkle statue by the parade ring, jumpers for goal posts. Alas, occasions where the place can be enjoyed at a leisurely pace are falling by the wayside - Pillar Chase day, Friday of November meeting - in the torrent of spin and marketing. With the bowl-like layout of the track, the viewing remains pretty good.

CHEPSTOW (2003): A fine venue for anything other than watching racing, as the undulations in the straight cause the runners to disappear at regular intervals, and it is hard to get high enough to counteract this. Plus it is not easily reached by train, and most people get charged to cross the bridge to get there by road. And for a supposed big track, the standard of racing has descended over the years into some fairly numpty races staged at regular intervals. Being an Arc course, the beer choice is inevitably dreadful. Almost certainly the worst place to go racing in the country.

DONCASTER (2016): Reopened after a huge overhaul in 2007 and feedback from those attending is that it is pleasant enough, but not perhaps quite as wonderful as billed. Prior to this, the course was run with a pretty pompous attitude, which has not gone completely, but what has been shot to pieces is the viewing - the centre course is so full of trees and buildings that half the race is run out of sight from the stands. Not cool.

HAYDOCK (1993): A vast flat tract of land, which costs an inexplicably vast tract of cash to access for the purposes of watching horse racing. The course has recently tipped the balance of racing in favour of mediocre flat evening meetings, to boost the bar takings. Apparently, getting people to engage with the horses and the racing is not on the agenda. Unappealing until the prices are more realistic and it remembers that it is a race course, not a pub.

KEMPTON (2016): Threatened to be going the Haydock way, but the laying of an all-weather flat course worked in jumping's favour, as this track is now nearest the stands, improving the ambience, view and generally letting people get more involved. Apart from Christmas, crowds for Kempton are not what they should be, as it is a perfectly decent track. Perhaps it is another that suffers from the overly long train journey to cover a fairly small distance? There are plenty of food and drink outlets, including the Hog's Back Brewery, and the vibe at the midweek or occasional rearranged fixture is pleasantly relaxed. The only mystery is their love of clashing with Plumpton, when there is a significant cabal of racegoers that would attend both courses if they raced on different days.

NEWBURY (2010): Seems to have been taken over by the Pompous Society lately, when historically it ran quite smoothly, but even the old efficiency could not overcome one big drawback. The stands are set a long way back from the running surface, and when the weather is bad and people need shelter it rather puts the kybosh on the atmosphere, plus it can be inclined to over-emphasise the segregation between enclosures at the expense of customer comfort and satisfaction. Newbury Racecourse station is right by the track, but is often excluded from any special ticket deals available. Newbury station is not, and sits a mere ten minutes walk away - visible from the racecourse station. You can be caught out by the bars shutting at the off of the last race - kind of odd in the midst of winter when this is just after 3.00 pm - but there is a good choice of food outlets.

NEWCASTLE (2001): Only visited once, for a nondescript May evening meeting. A big venue means plenty of room on the quieter days, but the raised land in the middle of the track does mean that viewing needs to be from the upper tiers of the rather aged looking stands. Do not confuse it with Newcastle dogs, which can race on the same day. Watch "Get Carter" before attending and then see if the place has changed at all since 1972. Very, very little. And in the arc style, pretensions to being a major venue are fading as big days are being dwarfed by days of muppet racing.

SANDOWN (2016): Good viewing from the hill top, lots of exciting finishes, even in small fields, backs on to Esher train station, Hogs Back brewery stall in the main hall, but a bit expensive to get in. On the whole it is a fairly pleasant venue, and the signage around the parade ring etc is at least trying to encourage people to think that there is more to do between races than just stand in the bar. It can be a bit prone to small fields.

WETHERBY (2005): Not unlike Sandown in many respects, but with the highest point less elevated from the rest of the course. Every visit has seen the the far bend shrouded in mist, and it will be interesting to see if that is still the case now that the old bend is part of the A1 - will the fog follow the new course layout? For the decent standard of racing there, it is traditionally fairly cheap on admission, but these things tend only to last until someone in power realises it!
FAQ
In the FAQ below, the grand betting opportunity provided by low grade jump racing is referred to. I would add in advance that it is also tremendous, unpretentious fun. Sometimes of a wet and cold variety, but always fun.

WHENCE CAME UK-JUMPING?

At the start of the 1996/7 jumps season, Midweek Money-Spinners was first published as a inexpensive horse to follow guide for runners at the small tracks. Two further annual editions followed, when the contents were narrowed to avoid horses trained at big yards

WHY TARGET THESE COURSES & HORSES?

I had suspected for a while that at the gaffe tracks small yards' horses were being over-priced when competing against the lesser lights of more famous trainers and that there was money to made on the right occasion. Conversations with a couple of on-course bookmakers who regularly bet at these meetings confirmed that that this theory was not just wild speculation.

WERE THEY FOLLOWED BLINDLY?

No. The extra factor seemed to be ensuring that the horses were running in the correct conditions. In adversity a class horse becomes ordinary, but an ordinary horse rarely is able to overcome the limitations placed on it's ability to perform. Go to the courses page for a listing of the course characteristics.

WHAT RESULTS WERE ACHIEVED?

Quite good. The following list applies to runners at the small tracks in conditions specified as suitable.

1996/7 139 runs 41 wins 75.3 point level stake profit (54%)

1997/8 105 runs 30 wins 41.1 point level stake profit (39%)

1998/9 96 runs 22 wins 26.9 point level stake profit (28%)

total 340 runs 93 wins 143.3 point level stake profit (42%)

In fact, a profit was accidentally shown each season at the major tracks, due to the occasional big price winner and selection of the odd horse that turned out to be a bit better than expected, including from 96/7 Niki Dee, from 97/8 Celtic Giant & from 98/9 Looks Like Trouble

WHY SWITCH TO THE WEB?

To keep the information on the selections up to date, a six month update was sent out. This added to cost and time, and was itself potentially out of date quickly. Regular web updates were the most efficient.

WHICH ARE THE SMALL COURSES/QUALIFYING RACES?

Due to the continuing evolution of the racing calendar, the concept of certain courses being in and others being out is not so simple. As of 2014, the races not to be included are:

i) Any race at Aintree, Ascot, Cheltenham, Haydock, Kempton, Newbury and Sandown

ii) Any class 1 or class 2 race elsewhere

iii) Class 3 races at Ayr, Chepstow, Doncaster, Newcastle and Wetherby
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August bank holiday at Huntingdon
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Like any other track, Kelso has one or two regulars who like to arrive two hours before the meeting starts, just in case...
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Another busy Sunday at Mrket Rasen
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Recent improvements at the Perth include erecting the most luminous winning post in the nation
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Tiwaz, the sky god, smiles upon the finish of a chase at Sedgefield
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