Horseracing in Lancashire

The race courses in Lancashire are situated in the Merseyside area of the county. Both Haydock Park and Aintree are renowned globally for the quality of the events that are on their racing calendars each year. Manchester racecourse was a venue for racing prior to its closure in 1963. There had been racing in the area as far back as 1687 but now race goers near to travel across the Merseyside or even venture over to Chester Race course in Cheshire to see horseracing.

Haydock Park Racecourse is situated half way between Manchester and Liverpool and is just to the south of Wigan. There has been racing at this track since the early 19th century and it is the venue for both National hunt racing in the winter months and flat racing in the summer months.

The horses at the Sprint Cup

The track is 1 mile 5 furlongs long and the horses travel in an anti-clockwise direction. The Biggest race of the year is the September run Sprint Cup, which is for thoroughbreds who are 3 years or older. It is a straight flat race over 6 furlongs and the race in 2017 was won by the Clive Cox trained Harry Angel.

The horse ridden by Adam Kirby earned his Goldophin owners 167,000 UK pounds for the 1 minute and 13 seconds it spent sprinting on the track. This race is a group 1 event and the November run Betfair Chase is the only other event that falls into this highest category. The Betfair Chase is a national hunt event run each November over 3 miles and 1 furlong.

The other racecourse in the area is Aintree which is situated just to the north of Liverpool. Steeplechase racing started at Aintree in 1836 although races over the flat had been taking place for many years. The track holds the world famous Grand National where horses run twice around the two-mile track jumping 30 fences.

The race of first run in 1839, and has become prominent in British Culture. Families who never usually lay a bet, always pick a horse in this race that is always run in March. It has the reputation of having the toughest fences in the world, and sends shivers of fear down the spines of Jockey’s that are new to the event.

Some of the fences on the course such as “Becher’s Brook”, “The Chair” and the “Canal Turn” are well known around the country and all of the fences are covered in spruce. The distance of just over 4 miles makes it a trues stamina test of both horse and jockey. Over time the course has worked to reduce the severity of some of the fences, as there have been a number of horses that have been fatally wounded as a result of falling.

The race over the years has unearthed some amazing stories. None however, can match the performances of Red Rum who won the event three times in the mid-1970s. He also finished second

Red Rum scaling an Aintree fence

twice and was trained on the sands at Southport by Ginger McCain. His first two victories were in 1973 and 1974 being ridden by Brian Flectcher.

The horse then came second in 1975 and 1976 and after the 1975 race it was claimed by Fletcher that the horse never felt right. This angered McCain so in 1976 Tommy Stack was put on the horse and Red Rum was just beaten into second by Rag Trade. In 1977 he was not to be denied as Stack rode the horse to one of horse racing’s greatest victories.

The attendances for the Grand National meeting are massive with over 75,000 presents on the actual day. Racing is big business in the county and it is quite apt that the world’s most well-known horse hailed from the beaches of Lancashire.