Chelmsford City racecourse may be the newest track in the UK but has already had an eventful history. Opened as Great Leighs in April 2008, it was the first entirely new racecourse in the UK since Taunton opened in 1927. Unfortunately, nine months later it closed again as it went into administration in January 2009. In the next six years various attempts were made to open the track again before it finally got the green light in 2015.
Today, the all-weather, floodlight track hosts meetings on a regular basis. Aesthetically, it may not be up there with an Ascot or a Windsor but it is designed with the spectator in mind with easy access and good facilities. In early 2017 it was announced that the owners would built a casino in the inner-track area.
Our last visit – April 2017
As you approach the track on the A131 you don’t get the impression of warmth but that soon disappears as you meet your first employee. Everyone, and I mean, everyone at the track has the word customer service at the forefront of their mind. Nothing is too much trouble, no question is to simple or hard to answer and everything is designed with spectators in mind. There’s no stuffiness you get from other tracks, nor is there any overly imposing rules.
As if luck would have it, this was a relatively rare afternoon meeting, with most midweek fixtures being played out under the lights. After a morning’s shopping at Freeport Outlet Village just a ten minute drive away, we arrived in good time for the first race and more importantly, the first pint from the craft beer stall outside.
The big race of the day was the Class 2 Handicap Stakes (3:40) with a £45k prize fund whilst the 3:10 Maiden Fillies’ Stakes featured five horses including the £700k Godolphin-owned Pure Shores which gave us our second winner of the day when the 12-1 Curlew River beat favourite and stablemate Fiendish in the finishing dash.
In the second race of the day the 10/1 Hipz gave us a decent return after getting a small return on Royal Gait at 11/10 in the opener whilst Pactolus in the fourth was a decent 16/1 e/w bet.
100% recommend a visit to Chelmsford City.
Whats the track like?: The eight and a half furlong floodlit polytrack circuit is left handed. There is a chute start for seven and eight furlong races and a two furlong home and back straight. The viewing area is along the finishing straight with a few steps of terrace and a big screen opposite.
Admission: Chelmsford City offers some excellent deals. They offer early bird tickets at £12.50 or advanced entry at £17 (£19 on the day). For £30 a head you can also have the chance to go behind the scenes to see the Weighing-In room and to meet the Officials of racing before relaxing with a glass of champagne* and study “form” with our expert tipster in the Owners and Trainers Bar. Package also includes racecourse admission, reserved seating in the Hospitality Grandstand and a £5 food voucher (*or alternative).
Food & Drink: Loads of options both inside the stand and out. The big public bar area ensures that you never have long to wait for drink, although the food servery, whilst great value, has long queues. There is the occasional craft beer stall outside and in the summer food trucks are also on offer. The Club Restaurant is on the first-floor of the grandstand, whilst the Fairwood Restaurant is located next to the finishing line.
Address: Chelmsford City Racecourse, Chelmsford CM3 1QP
Directions: Another very easy racecourse to find, especially those coming by car. The racecourse is situated on the A131 from Chelmsford to Braintree. There’s plenty of free parking for everyone. The No.70 and No. 352 bus runs through Great Leighs from Chelmsford Bus Station and there is a limited shuttle bus service running between the Castle Pub bus stop in Great Leighs. Otherwise it is a taxi – it is about 20 minutes from Chelmsford and Stansted Airport.
Hotels near-by: Thee’s no hotels near the track with the nearest being the Holiday Inn Express in on the A120 at Braintree.
Many thanks to At The Races and The Jockey Club for information about the racecourse.