Horse racing has been held at Huntingdon since 1886 when Catherine The Great one the inaugural race. It is predominantly National Hunt course, which has been graced over the years by horses such as Dublin Flyer and the great Desert Orchid.
The course is right-handed, oval with easy bends, and is a flat, fast track about one-and-a-half miles in length. There are nine fences to a circuit, some of them rather tricky, and the water jump was filled in during summer 2008, astroturf replacing the water. It favours horses with speed over stamina, sluggards seen to best advantage only under extremely testing conditions.
The Peterborough Chase attracts an enthusiastic jumps crowd to Huntingdon, though the most popular meeting of the year is usually the Boxing Day fixture which in 2015 attracted the largest crowd for almost ten years. Huntingdon Racecourse was voted ‘Best Small Racecourse’ in the South Midlands and East Anglia by the Racegoers Club in 2012 and 2014.
Our last visit – March 2017
I’d read that Huntingdon had a real country feel but I wasn’t really prepared for the mud when we parked our car just in front of the stables. Granted it had been lashing it down for the past few hours, with more biblical proportions due later in the afternoon, but the large number of race goers driving across the soft field hadn’t made it too easy on walking. Today was the annual Family Fun Day, which not only meant that the racecourse was busy entertaining hundreds of youngsters, but they had also offered an excellent value £20 Family ticket for 2 Adults and 2 Kids. If any first timers wanted to get the feel of horse racing, what better way to experience it that here at Huntingdon.
The first welcome we had was in the form of some free sweets for the kids. They may well be teenagers now but who doesn’t like a bag-full of fizzy cola bottles thrust into their hands? OK, apart from me. The beauty of Huntingdon is plain to see very quickly. Everything is right there, in front of you. Want a beer? Take your pick from three bars all within stumbling distance (Caffrey’s on draught – when was the last time you saw that??), food stalls, on-course bookies, terracing with a roof and right on the finishing line. What more could you want?
The rain sent people to the stands every few minutes but that wasn’t enough to spoil the afternoon of racing. It was a moderately successful starting with the 2.30pm for us and a beaten-at-the-post Far from Defeat, who unfortunately died soon after the race. The 3pm saw Littlest Fuller win on Dig Deeper although only at 15/8 (random fact: the horse was trained by Catherine Bailey, a named shared by a former work colleague who celebrated her birthday on this very day). The 3.30pm was a six horse race, and with one horse pulling up on the second lap, it was a narrow ride to the finish but my Twiston-Davis ridden Antartica de Thaix at 9/2 gave me another win. The 4pm saw just four horses finish but the winnings were slim, leaving the 4.30pm as our final race of the day. It was a three-way race with the potential for one of us (not me) to win big. Alas, Lithic at 7/4 one by a second, leaving us empty handed.
A moderate return from an excellent afternoon. Huntingdon is a top venue for those wanting some intimacy with the horses and not feeling swamped by huge facilities.
Whats the track like?: The course is right-handed, oval with easy bends, and is a flat, fast track about one-and-a-half miles in length. There are nine fences to a circuit, some of them rather tricky. It favours horses with speed over stamina, sluggards seen to best advantage only under extremely testing conditions.
Admission: Huntingdon offers some excellent value offers such as the Family of four ticket for £20 for their Family Fun Day in March. Main Enclosure tickets start from £12 each when booked online in advance plus there is a package that includes food/drink/race card/bet package for £27.
Food & Drink: Loads of options both inside the stand and out. There are a couple of food trucks parked near the parade ring that serve an excellent chicken and chips whilst the pastie stall has some of the biggest pasties known to man. All good value and bars are plentiful and easy to get served at.
Address: Huntingdon Racecourse, Brampton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 4NL
Directions: Another very easy racecourse to find, especially those coming by car. The racecourse is situated half a mile from the A14 Junction 22. At the roundabout follow signs for the racecourse and it is 1/2 mile up the road past the Holiday Inn.
The nearest station is Huntingdon which is on the main line from Kings Cross London and is approximately 2.5 miles from the racecourse. A complimentary courtesy car service operates on racedays, between the racecourse and the station. This service runs for 2 hours before the first race and for half an hour either side of the last race.
Hotels near-by: The Holiday Inn overlooks the racecourse although doesn’t quite offer views of the finishing line. The hotel offers special race goer packages online. There’s a number of other hotels available in Huntingdon town centre – use Hotels.com to find alternative accommodation.
Many thanks to At The Races and The Jockey Club for information about the racecourse.