Sedgefield Racecourse

Last updated
Sedgefield
Location Sedgefield, County Durham
Owned by Arena Racing Company (formerly Northern Racing)
Screened on Sky Sports Racing
Course type National Hunt
Official website

Sedgefield Racecourse is an English left-handed horse racing course, used for jump racing. It is owned by Arena Racing Company and located close to the town of Sedgefield, County Durham.

Contents

The finishing straight is about three furlongs in length, with a steep descent followed by a climb to the winning post after the last fence. It is also used as a venue for numerous other indoor and outdoor events, such as weddings and conferences. [1] [2] The course was almost shut down three times in the 20th century.

History

Sedgefield racecourse grandstands.jpg

Racing has been taking place at Sedgefield since at least 1732, but little is known of these early meetings. In 1804 Ralph Lambton, an ancestor of the Earls of Durham, formed a club based at the Hardwick Arms and Sedgefield became the headquarters of the Ralph Lambton Hunt. Among the original members of the club were Ralph Brandling, then owner of Gosforth Park and Robert Surtees, the father of Robert Smith Surtees, the author of Jorrocks. The Sedgefield course was part of the Sands Hall Estate, home of the Ord family and once known as the Melton of the North. Racing may not have been staged every year and it was not until 1846 that officially recognised meetings were held. [3]

Until World War I the Sedgefield Hunt staged an annual two-day fixture in March. When racing resumed the number of meetings soon increased to three, including a lucrative Bank Holiday fixture. A new Racecourse Company was founded in 1927, and has seen the fixtures gradually increase to the current level.

Facilities only improved slowly, and in the 1960s Clement Freud famously described the course as “all field and not much sedge”. When Frank Scotto was appointed as chairman in 1977 following the death of Harry Lane the course was rumoured to be on the verge of closure. He instigated a series of improvements, replacing primitive tin huts with new bars and eating areas, building the new Sedgefield Pavilion in 1991 and the Theakston Suite in 1995, while increasing the number of corporate hospitality suites. Stable facilities were improved, not only for the horses, but for the stable staff, jockeys, owners and trainers. After Scotto's death in 1996 the course’s future was uncertain, though a state-of-the-art Weighing Room Complex was constructed in 1998, with better facilities for jockeys, officials and medical staff. In 1999, the future of the course was questioned after a horrific incident in a novices' chase. Three horses were killed after three riderless horses ran into the remainder of the field after running up the chase track the wrong way. The racecourse had just narrowly avoided closure for the third time that century. The purchase of the course by Northern Racing was completed in 2001. Since then they have invested around £600,000 on the racecourse, notably on a refurbished Parade Ring/Winners Enclosure, upgraded bars and eating areas and improvements to the course's drainage system.

For many years the run from the last fence to the winning post was 525 yards, even longer than the run-in on the Grand National course. This was because the obstacle nearest the finishing line was a water jump, which cannot be the first or last fence in a race. In 1994 it was replaced by an ordinary plain fence, and it is now jumped on the final circuit, making a run-in of conventional length. It is known as the Johnny Ridley fence as a result of the local bookmaker’s long sponsorship of it. [2]

Notable races

The Durham National is a steeplechase run at an October meeting over the unusual distance of three and three quarter miles. One of the most popular winners in recent years was Fatehalkhair, a cast-off from one of the major flat race stables, who went on to win twenty races. Thirteen of them were over jumps, and they were all at Sedgefield. [4]

Local businessman and racehorse owner John Wade sponsored a series of selling hurdle races throughout the season at Sedgefield for a number of years, which in 2010 was upgraded to a series of novices' hurdles culminating in a final on the same night as the Durham National. [1]

Related Research Articles

Thoroughbred racing

Thoroughbred horse racing is a sport and industry involving the racing and hound racing of Thoroughbred horses. It is governed by different national bodies. There are two forms of the sport: flat racing and jump racing, the latter called National Hunt racing in the UK and steeplechasing in the US. Jump racing can be further divided into hurdling and steeplechasing.

In horse racing in the United Kingdom, France and the Republic of Ireland, National Hunt racing requires horses to jump fences and ditches. National Hunt racing in the UK is informally known as "jumps" and is divided into two major distinct branches: hurdles and steeplechases. Alongside these there are "bumpers", which are National Hunt flat races. In a hurdles race, the horses jump over obstacles called hurdles; in a steeplechase the horses jump over a variety of obstacles that can include plain fences, water jump or an open ditch. In the UK the biggest National Hunt events of the year are generally considered to be the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Aintree Racecourse Horse racing venue in Liverpool, England

Aintree Racecourse is a racecourse in Aintree, Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, Merseyside, England, bordering the city of Liverpool. The racecourse is best known for annually holding the world-famous Grand National steeplechase.

Leicester Racecourse is a horse racing course in Oadby, Leicestershire, about three miles south of the city centre.

Kempton Park Racecourse

Kempton Park Racecourse is a horse racing track together with a licensed entertainment and conference venue in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, England, 16 miles south-west of Charing Cross, London and on a border of Greater London. The site has 210 acres of flat grassland surrounded by woodland with two lakes in its centre. Its entrance borders Kempton Park railway station which was created for racegoers on a branch line from London Waterloo, via Clapham Junction.

Ayr Racecourse

Ayr Racecourse at Whitletts Road, Ayr, Scotland, was opened in 1907. There are courses for flat and for National Hunt racing.

Steeplechase (horse racing) Horse race form originally from Ireland, featuring jumps over fence and ditch obstacles

A steeplechase is a distance horse race in which competitors are required to jump diverse fence and ditch obstacles. Steeplechasing is primarily conducted in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Australia and France. The name is derived from early races in which orientation of the course was by reference to a church steeple, jumping fences and ditches and generally traversing the many intervening obstacles in the countryside.

Foinavon (1958–1971) was an Irish racehorse. He won the Grand National in 1967 at odds of 100/1 after the rest of the field fell, refused or were hampered or brought down in a mêlée at the 23rd fence. The fence was officially named after Foinavon in 1984.

Dawn Run (1978–1986) was an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse who was the most successful racemare in the history of National Hunt racing. She won the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 1984 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup over fences at the festival in 1986. Dawn Run was the only racehorse ever to complete the Champion Hurdle - Gold Cup double. She was only the second mare to win the Champion Hurdle, and one of only four who have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. She was the only horse ever to complete the English, Irish and French Champion Hurdle treble.

Chepstow Racecourse is a thoroughbred horse racing course located just north of the town of Chepstow in Monmouthshire, Wales, near the southern end of the Wye Valley and close to the border with England. It is one of 16 racecourses operated by the Arena Racing Company and is home of the richest race in Wales, the Coral Welsh Grand National.

Denman (horse) 21st-century Irish racehorse

Denman was an Irish-bred National Hunt racehorse sired by Presenting. Known as The Tank, Denman was widely known for his great rivalry with Kauto Star for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. This large horse with a front-running style won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008.

Danoli was an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse. He was best known for his successes in hurdle races, although he also had success in steeplechases later in his career. Danoli was described as the most popular racehorse in Ireland during the 1990s, and was regarded as "the People's Champion". His successes were achieved despite the fact that his career was frequently disrupted by injury. He was noted for a rivalry with another Irish horse, Dorans Pride.

Northern Racing was a private company that owned ten horse racing courses and one golf course in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1998 by Sir Stanley Clarke CBE, and after being listed on the Alternative Investment Market, was owned privately by the Reuben Brothers. In 2012, it was merged with Arena Leisure to form Arena Racing Company

Mr Mulligan was an Irish-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse. He was a specialist steeplechaser who ran twelve times and won seven races under National Hunt rules. After mixed success in Point-to-point, Mr Mulligan rose to prominence by winning five successive races of increasing importance in the 1995/1996 National Hunt season. He became known for his front-running style and occasionally erratic jumping. In the following year he appeared to have lost his form before recording an upset win over a strong field in the 1997 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was retired after being injured in training in 1998. Eighteen months later he died after being injured in a paddock accident.

Edward O'Grady is an champion Irish National Hunt racehorse trainer. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, O'Grady was the leading Irish trainer at Cheltenham by number of winners.

Barton was a British racehorse of Thoroughbred and Anglo-Arabian ancestry who competed in National Hunt racing. In a racing career which lasted from October 1997 until November 2003 he won fourteen of his twenty-six races. He had his greatest success in the 1998/1999 National Hunt season when he dominated the novice hurdle division in Britain, winning all seven of his races including the Classic Novices' Hurdle, Winter Novices' Hurdle, River Don Novices' Hurdle, Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle and Mersey Novices' Hurdle. After missing the next season he returned to win the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and the Aintree Hurdle, easily defeating Best Mate in the latter race. When switched to steeplechasing he won the Dipper Novices' Chase and the Mildmay Novices' Chase but was never as effective as he had been over hurdles.

Lord Windermere Irish-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Lord Windermere is an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse who competes in National Hunt racing. He is a successful steeplechaser, winning the RSA Chase in 2013 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2014.

Call Equiname was a British Thoroughbred racehorse who competed under National Hunt rules. In a racing career frequently interrupted by injury he raced twenty-one times in eight seasons, winning eleven races. Despite an undistinguished pedigree, he showed promise in his early career, winning the Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle in 1995. He reached his peak in the spring of 1999 when he won the Victor Chandler Chase and the Queen Mother Champion Chase. He was retired from racing in January 2001.

Remittance Man was an Irish-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse who competed under National Hunt rules. He was noted for his consistency, excellent jumping and nervous temperament. Between December 1988 and April 1990 he competed in hurdle races, and showed promise by winning two of his twelve races including the Grade 2 Bristol Novices' Hurdle and never finishing worse than third. When switched to compete in steeplechases he showed immediate improvement and won thirteen of his first fourteen races over fences. In his first season of steeplechasing his wins included the Noel Novices' Chase, Wayward Lad Novices' Chase, Galloway Braes Novices' Chase and Arkle Challenge Trophy. He had his greatest success in the 1991/1992 season when he won the Arlington Premier Chase, Queen Mother Champion Chase and Melling Chase. In the following autumn he won the Desert Orchid Chase and the Peterborough Chase but then sustained a serious tendon injury. He won his comeback race in February 1994 but was beaten in his three remaining races.

Native River is an Irish-bred, British-trained, Thoroughbred racehorse who races under National Hunt rules. He is a specialist long-distance steeplechaser known for his front-running style and apparently inexhaustible stamina. He won three minor hurdle races but began to show better form in the 2015/16 when taking the Worcester Novices' Chase and the Mildmay Novices' Chase. He emerged as a top-class steeplechaser in the following season when he won the Hennessy Gold Cup, Welsh Grand National and Denman Chase as well as finishing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. In the spring of 2018 he won a second Denman Chase before recording his biggest win in the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

References

  1. 1 2 The Sporting Life website
  2. 1 2 Sedgefield racecourse website
  3. Gill, James. 1975. Racecourses of Great Britain ( ISBN   0-214-200906)
  4. The Racing Post website

Coordinates: 54°38′46.92″N1°27′58.87″W / 54.6463667°N 1.4663528°W / 54.6463667; -1.4663528