Sedgefield Racecourse does not have the reputation of a top-class event venue. However, it’s a noteworthy track in Britain. It sits in a very prevalent location for racegoers. Therefore, it is extremely important within northern racing.
Sedgefield is just south of Durham, north-west of Middlesbrough, and south of Newcastle. That means it draws punters in the winter months who would ordinarily attend Newcastle or Redcar for flat and all-weather racing. It hosts National Hunt racing only.
That said, Sedgefield also hosts jumps racing in the warmer months. That allows some of the smaller trainers from around County Durham, Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Scotland to keep their horses going or give them vital experience.
You won’t find too many Nicky Henderson or Paul Nicholls runners at Sedgefield Racecourse. But more local trainers like Philip Kirby and Newcastle native Brian Ellison have done particularly well here recently. In addition, expert northern-based jockeys Danny Cook and Brian Hughes ride here.
Sedgefield hosts anywhere up to 500 fixtures in the year. There is a race every calendar month except in June and July. Also, there are three evening meetings between May and August.
History of Sedgefield Racecourse
Sedgefield has hosted races since the 1730s at least. But there are no proper records of the earliest races. Unfortunately, they have been lost.
From those early days and up to World War 1, the local Sedgefield Hunt hosted a two-day meeting every year in March. That increased to three days and eventually included a valuable Bank Holiday meeting.
After a new administration took over in 1927 to host racing here, fixtures increased and the facilities improved. Now, the track is settled and punters are learning what it requires to perform well here.
Tickets at Sedgefield Racecourse
For a typical afternoon of racing, a Grandstand ticket will cost just £14 online. However, there are many themes that you can add as packages. They are quite popular. For instance, a Pie & Peas Package is £20. Alternatively, a Silks Package with a reserved table for the whole day is £49.
Sedgefield’s Distinguishing Features
The racecourse is left-handed and undulates almost all the way around. On the chase course, the fences are described as “easy”, with very little in the way of unseated riders or fallers. Also, casualty rates are thankfully low.
The whole circuit is just a mile and a quarter round with a slight uphill finish. Many believe that riders should save energy for a late kick but in practice, this rarely works out at Sedgefield. This is especially true on the hurdles course. Here, the run-in is very short after the last flight, so there is little time for those coming from behind to pick up and gain ground on the leader.
The track, according to leading jockeys, tends to suit fast and accurate jumpers as they can easily keep the momentum going over the easy fences. Although because of their lack of difficulty, a few mistakes can be made and recovered from in theory, most notably on the quicker ground in the summer months.
However, this is a proper countryside track. And the course is much like its wider surroundings; bog-like in the winter. When the rain comes, the ground here can be very testing.
This means that as well as relying on horses with sufficient stamina who can see the race out, you’ll need an experienced jockey who knows how to ride Sedgefield well, as those in the know often grab a spot on the stands-side rail up the straight when it’s soft, usually giving them a nice strip of ground to finish the race on.
Biggest Meetings and Races at Sedgefield
Sedgefield, owing to the lower grade of runners in its own races, often successfully piggybacks other major meetings with fixtures planned either side of the Cheltenham Festival, as well as on the Friday of the Grand National meeting at Aintree with races from there shown live.
The Boxing Day fixture here is naturally popular. But the best race is in mid-October on a Sunday afternoon:
- Durham National – Handicap Chase, 3m6f, October
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