Most UK race goers will have sampled the delights of one of the grand old courses that host the likes of the Grand National, Derby, or Cheltenham Festival, but often they miss out on other lesser-known courses.
In this article we try to ensure that does not happen, as we go about lifting the lid on the racecourses that are so personal and homely that they can almost be described as boutique.
All these courses promise an incredible day out alongside thoroughbred long noses and fellow horse lovers
When most people think of going to the races or placing racing bets, the tracks that come to mind tend to be in England or perhaps even Ireland, but few racing fans ever consider travelling or checking the form for races that happen north of the border, in bonny Scotland.
However, perched on the banks of the River Tay is the beautiful Perth Racecourse, where horses and jockeys do battle, all set against a stunning heather-strewn highland backdrop. It is debatable as to whether there is a more picturesque place in the UK from which to bet on horse racing online and watch the winners streak home.
The other refreshing thing about Perth Racecourse is just how down to earth it is, with fancy hospitality suites replaced by a fish and chip shop and a stand that does special toasties, which will be just what you need if the Scottish weather decides not to behave itself.
If you want your horseracing set against stunning vistas but do not wish to travel north of the border, then Northumberland’s Hexham racecourse is the ideal option. This national hunt course hosts no less than fifteen meets in a regular calendar year and is even geared up for VIP visitors, as it boasts private boxes as well as an excellent buffet restaurant. Such is the wildness of the course’s setting you may get the feeling that the long noses and jockeys are riding through acres of natural countryside. If that sounds appealing, then it would be a shame for you not to visit this hill top course.
For something altogether different from your regular racing experience, this amateur race usually takes place towards the end of March and is widely regarded as the oldest horse race in the UK, dating all the way back to 1519.
The true beauty of this race is that it is about as low key as it gets. There are no grandstands or fancy marquees, with most spectators wearing wellies and standing in wait to see which horse and jockey hack their way home in first.
Just down the road from the East Yorkshire backwater that is Kiplingcotes comes Beverley racecourse, which is tucked neatly on the Beverley Westwood park.
The whole town and most of East Yorkshire turns out for the big Beverley race meets, and it is a good place for a long weekend away, because the town has retained its historic charm and the Westwood even has a top-notch links golf course to enjoy.
Racing round Liverpool way tends to be dominated by the Aintree Grand National, but there are other courses in the vicinity that also cater very well to even the most demanding of equestrian nuts.
One of these is Chester Racecourse, which comes close to challenging Kiplingcotes for lengthy heritage, having been founded in 1539.
The amazing thing about this course is that during Roman times it was the site of a port, with most of today’s track being under water.
Thankfully, these days the course has been well and truly drained, although there are still remnants of the roman port, which hem the horses in as they tear around the track. It is this enclosed and almost gladiatorial atmosphere that makes Chester a special place to watch top level horse racing. Why not give it a go and see how it measures up to Aintree?