Located in the heart of the city centre and surrounded by the ancient Roman Walls, Chester Racecourse is certainly one of the country’s, if not the world’s, most recognisable racecourses.
With an incredible history and landscape, Chester Racecourse is wonderfully atmospheric and characterful, attracting keen racing fans and members of the North West’s social circle to its 65-acre site. Most known for its special annual events that include the iconic May Festival, Ladies Day and Roman Day, the racecourse is at the heart of the community from the world’s horseracing enthusiasts to the residents of Chester who are fiercely proud of its history.
Five Quick Facts
1With its first horse race reportedly taking place in 1539, Chester Racecourse is the acknowledged as England’s oldest racecourse that is still in use. 2As the River Dee curves around the course, the area of Chester Racecourse was once a Roman harbour. Some stones which were used as anchors can still be seen on the edge of the course. 3The course is locally known as the ‘Roodee’ which means ‘Islands of the Cross’. Local legend has is that a statue of the Virgin Mary was buried under the cross after falling from the alter and killing a local parishioner. The holy statue was sentenced to be buried by a jury of twelve. 4It wasn’t horse racing that was the original sport taking place at this location. It was once the home of the Goteddsday football match, held on Shrove Tuesday. It was deemed too violent and was ultimately banned by the Mayor. 5Chester Racecourse has many different uses and is also used as an outdoor music venue. It has hosted international stars including Iggy Pop, The Courteneers and The Australian Pink Floyd Show.
Things To Do
Alongside its counterparts including Aintree’s Grand National and Royal Ascot, the May Festival at Chester Races is one of the best-known meetings in the country.
With the festival held across three days, guests begin celebrations with the inaugural Chester Cup Day, marking the beginning of the annual event. The second day is the popular Ladies Day, which attracts both ladies and gentlemen from across the country to the famous course. With the opportunity to wear beautiful dresses and elegant hats, tickets to this event are extremely sought-after and many take the opportunity to make it even more special by starting the day with champagne breakfast in one of the local restaurants.
Concluding the May Festival is City Day, when hoards of locals take to the course to watch the final race along the 1.8km race. The special day sees many guests taking advantage of the hospitality packages, which can include a champagne reception and access to an exclusive chalet just a short stroll away from the final post.
With the grounds of the racecourse once a thriving Roman port, it seems only right to pay homage to its ancient connection with a special race day. Roman Day is extremely popular and takes place every year, attracting many local families to the course to enjoy the entertainment for both adults and children.
With Roman soldiers rubbing shoulders with the guests, the event really celebrates the city’s historical roots and reignites its vibrant past. Guests are entertained by chariot races, where chariots are pulled by specially-trained horses which wow the crowds with their displays, giving a glimpse into what life was like in Roman times when locals would take their seats in the nearby amphitheatre, which was home to everything from soldier training to gladiatorial battles and plays.
With a vast area of land, Chester Racecourse has the ability to host a range of other sporting events and is home to Chester Polo Club.
Launching in 2016, the Chester Polo Club has grown from strength to strength and hosts two tournaments each season. The quintessentially British pastime is a popular sport amongst the upper classes and with a regal twist in the history of Chester Racecourse, Prince William even played at a charity match here in 2012.
The first tournament is the annual LDF International Polo Tournament, which carries a prize fund of £10,000. Lasting two days, the event comprises of sport and socialising, as well as fun and games. A very family-friendly event, guests are encouraged to picnics to enjoy as children are entertained with face painting and pony rides. The final tournament that takes place is the Boodles Roodee Challenge Cup, which takes place during the early autumn. With its lively crowd and competitive atmosphere in the air, watching as the sportsmen play for a prize fund is an exhilarating experience.
Visiting Chester Racecourse is a wonderful treat for those lucky enough to get tickets to the many events that take place on the ancient ground. However, for those who enjoy an extra special treat, the hospitality packages offer some fantastic additions to the day, ensuring that it is an event to remember.
The Final Furlong
Located within a beautiful marquee, the Final Furlong restaurant offers a wonderful dining experience just a few metres away from the track and close to the final post, a fantastic area to soak up the atmosphere as the race draws to an end. With private tables offering space for up to twelve guests, opting for a hospitality package is the perfect choice for groups of family or friends looking to enjoy the day together. Although hospitality packages can differ based on the type of event, the standard package at the Final Furlong includes a glass of prosecco on arrival,
two course lunch and all-inclusive bar.
1539 Restaurant & Bar
The 1539 Restaurant & Bar is a sleek and stylish venue that is located just about the Tattersalls Enclosure. As Chester Racecourse’s flagship venue, the 1539 Restaurant & Bar offers luxury hospitality at its finest and has even won an AA Rosette for Culinary Excellence. With floor-to-ceiling windows offering an unrivalled view of the course, guests are able to enjoy beautiful food and snazzy drinks within the comfortable interior that lends itself to both cold and warm seasons. Although hospitality packages can differ based on the type of event, the standard package includes a glass of champagne on arrival, four-course a la carte menu and a County Stand admission badge.
The White Horse
Situated within the Paddock area of Chester Racecourse, The White Horse offers a much more relaxed dining experience than its fellow venues located within the racecourse. Its position means that diners can enjoy seeing the horses and their jockeys in the Parade Ring both before and after the race, a perfect place for attendees who are accompanied by their children. With both indoor and outdoor seating, guests can enjoy the best of the races no matter what the weather. Although hospitality packages can differ based on the type of event, the standard package includes a Paddock admission badge, three-course meal and a race card.
The TurfDuring the Boodles May Festival, when The Turf offers a fine dining experience, you can find many ladies and gents enjoying the fantastic hospitality package that this particular event offers. Guests will be treated to champagne on arrival, three-course lunch including cream tea, and a County Stand admission badge. With a smaller space and more intimate atmosphere, The Turf is the perfect place to attend with a smaller group of friends or partner.
For those looking for the ultimate in luxury hospitality, hiring out a private box to enjoy the event is the perfect way to enjoy the day. With several private boxes located on the tops of the County and Leverhulme stands, guests can take advantage of the private balconies and take in the beautiful views across the course. Although many who hire the private boxes ten to keep it as an intimate gathering, the largest of the boxes can accommodate up to ninety people, perfect for corporate packages.
A part of Festival Village, the Festival Chalets are located right in the heart of all the exciting goings-on. Although private, as the chalet is surrounded by others, it has a great atmosphere, filled with guests that are each enjoying the benefits of the hospitality packages. Just a few steps away from the race track, guests can step out of their private space to take a space along the track and be wowed as the thunderous noise of the horses pass by.
For those who love everything equestrian, the Paddock Rooms are the perfect venue to experience a racing event. Located near the Parade Ring and right in the heart of all the exciting atmosphere, guests can relax on their own terrace and watch as the horses parade through the ring both before and after the race. With a minimum booking requirement of twenty people, the Paddock Rooms lend themselves to groups of colleagues or friends who can enjoy the event away from the bustling crowds and with a guaranteed seat, it’s the perfect way to ditch those high heels.