Here in Manchester, we’re spoilt by the amount of quality sport on our doorstep. We have two of the most successful Premier League teams on either side of the city and many historically important clubs across Greater Manchester.
We also have some of the best athletics facilities in the country as a consequence of hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2002. The city’s also home to the National Speedway Stadium, Old Trafford Cricket Ground, the National Cycling Centre, and the National Squash Centre.
However, Manchester doesn’t have a racecourse for horseracing. It did until 1963 when Manchester Racecourse at Castle Irwell closed for the final time. This isn’t a problem though, since Mancunians have many other nearby venues just a short car or train ride away.
So, if you’re in the mood to watch some horseracing this year, here are some of the best places to visit.
Aintree Racecourse is the most famous venue in the North West, thanks to it hosting the annual Grand National. The race is the biggest event on the National Hunt calendar and attracts horseracing fans and non-fans alike.
Unlike most races, there are around 40 Grand National runners that take part in the race each year, though details of which ones will be entering aren’t available until shortly before the run. Sites like OLBG keep a track of each entrant (and expected entrant) in the weeks leading up to the race, adding more horses and their odds as that information becomes available.
Being just a stone’s throw away from Manchester, there are usually dozens of tour companies offering return coach travel and entry to the Grand National Festival. Alternatively, it’s an easy train journey, with connections from Picadilly and Oxford Road, changing at Lime Street. You can also drive, though parking is limited on-site.
Even if you don’t attend in person, you can watch the Grand National at home on TV, with coverage provided by ITV.
Haydock Park Racecourse
Haydock Park Racecourse is Manchester’s closest venue for horseracing. It’s located in Newton-le-Willows on the Manchester side of the M6, 15 minutes from Leigh by car.
It hosts events every month of the year, though most events take place from May to August. It has a mix of flat, chase and hurdle races, covering all grades for Thoroughbred racing.
The most notable race is the Chase, a three miles and one-furlong race that is the first leg of the British National Hunt Triple Crown.
Getting to Haydock is easy, just exit the M6 at junction 23 and enter the racecourse from the A49. Alternatively, take a train from any of Manchester’s main stations and alight at Newton-le-Willows. On certain days, there is a free shuttle bus between the racecourse and the station. There are also buses from St Helens, Liverpool City Centre, and Wigan that stop at the racecourse.
Chester Racecourse is the world’s oldest racecourse that continues to operate today. It’s also unique because it’s the only kidney-shaped track in the UK. Located on the banks of the River Dee, it’s a great place to watch a day of racing and spend time with friends.
Its biggest event is the May Festival, which, as you’d expect, takes place in May. Other popular events include Roman Day in late May and Summer Saturday in mid-June.
Getting to Chester Racecourse from Manchester is also simple. Trains leave Manchester’s main railway stations to Chester regularly, and the journey takes around an hour. Alternatively, you can head along the M56 and then take the M53 from junction 15. One thing to note is that parking is limited in Chester, so taking public transport is often preferable.