Date of Review: 19th August 2023
RCA Reviewers: The Wanderer, The Doctor & Mr Shrewdy
Address: Lansdown, Bath BA1 9BU, United Kingdom
Phone: 01225 424609
Track Layout: (Image: acknowledged & credited to At The Races)
Course Information: Bath Racecourse is a stretched oval-shaped, sharp, left-handed, galloping track, around 12 furlongs in distance. The 5-furlong sprint races start from an extension at the home straight. It has a long run-in of around 4-furlongs, and there is a steady incline to the winning post. Therefore, horses that go for home early often get collared in the closing stages of the race, It also has a camber that takes horses away from the running rail at the final, sharp home turn, which usually ensures that races are truly run.
Bath also happens to be the highest flat racecourse in the country at 780 feet above sea level, on the top of Lansdown Hill, so gusty headwinds are common. The going is very often good to firm, due to a lack of watering facilities. When all put together, it makes it somewhat of a specialist track. Therefore, keep a lookout for horses that have won here previously.
Bath has a rich history of racing, which dates back to 1716, following Charles II’s ascension to the throne. However, the first formally recorded meeting was in 1728, when a horse named Smiling Ball won the Bath Plate, with prize money of not an inconsiderable 50 guineas. Racing was transferred to Lansdown, the current location of the racecourse, by the Blathwayt family in 1811 and has continued there ever since.
The course was closed during World War II when it was used as a landing base by the RAF.
In 1953, Bath was the location of an attempted ‘ringer’ scandal in the running of the “Spa Selling Plate” race. An unscrupulous gang shipped in two nearly identical racehorses from France called Francasal and Santa Amaro.
Francasal was entered in the race, and, on known form, had very little, if any, chance of winning. However, Santa Amaro, was switched in its place on the day of the race. The gang had opened numerous betting accounts up and down the country and backed the horse at 10/1. They were in for a pay day of some £60,000, almost £700,000 at today’s value. However, the police got called in, and they were rumbled. More information about this little escapade can be found here: https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Great+Racing+Scams%3A+The+Francasal+scandal%2C+the+Bath+seller+and+the...-a081211059
In 2015, the racecourse was acquired by the Arena Racing Company (ARC), and significant investment was made into the facilities, including the parade ring and the Langridge Grandstand, which includes a canopied roof garden. The racecourse currently holds 22-flat race meetings a year between April and October.
The Racecourse Advisor Guide to Bath Racecourse:
By Road: The racecourse is situated around 3 miles north of Bath City Centre. A taxi will take approximately 15 minutes and cost around £20.00, depending on the traffic. There is a taxi drop off point directly in front of the main entrance. The course is 6 miles from junction 18 of the M4 and reached by taking the A46, heading south towards Bath. It is very well signed along the whole route. From Bristol, take the M32 to junction 18 of the M4 and follow the route as above. For Sat-Navs, use the postcode BA1 9BU.
By Rail: Bath Spa railway station is around 11 minutes by train from Bristol Temple Meads. You can also reach Bath from both the main London Paddington and South Wales lines. There are also regular connections from Cardiff and Birmingham. You can then transfer from the railway station by using the Race Day shuttle bus service, which costs £6.00 for a return ticket.
By Air: The racecourse is approximately 20 miles from Bristol Airport. Helicopters are allowed to land at the course on a race day with prior permission from the racecourse. Phone 01225 424609. Rating: 8/10.
Parking: Car parking at Bath Racecourse is good and it is free. The car park is actually a golf course, so keep your eyes out for any stray golf balls, and also watch for the grass clippings, which were in abundance, as seen on peoples shoes at the entrance turnstiles! It is located immediately next to the main entrance of the course, which is on the left. Blue badge parking is also located next to the main entrance and is well signed. Owners & trainers have a separate car park, which is located, just past the main entrance. Rating: 9/10.
Pricing: On the day of our visit, to pay at the gate was £31.00 each, which in our opinion is expensive. However, it is fair to point out that it was a “Cider Race night Featuring The Wurzels”. In other words, an evening of racing (seven race card), the Wurzels as after-racing entertainment, and a mini–Cider Festival to boot.
While we understand that The Wurzels have legendary status down in this part of the world, this fixture was priced as a pop concert and not as a race meeting. We have checked the website, and the price of an advanced booked ticket for the next two scheduled afternoon meetings is £16.00 each. However, to say it was busy on the night is an understatement. It was packed.
Tickets, which offer full access to all areas of the racecourse, could have been booked in advance for £26.00 each. A further £2.00 discount can be had if 6 or more tickets are booked at any one time. However, it is also important not to forget the sneaky £3.00 “fulfilment fee” that all ARC owned courses apply when booking online. £5 concessions are offered for over 60s, and students and under 18s are admitted for free if accompanied by an adult. There is also free admission for personal carers and care assistants.
Hats off to Bath for the racecard which was a joy to read after the excuses for the race cards we have had to suffer recently. What we liked about it was a full-page Welcome from the Director, but the highlight had to be a full 2-page map and layout of the course and facilities. It should be noted that advertising in the race card works as there was a full-page advert for Stephen Little, the now retired rails bookie, who was recognisable, in his day for wearing a fur coat. He was at the course signing and selling his book and he got a sale from us! And we used the map to locate exactly where we needed to go to meet him and buy the book. At £3.50 and 32 pages heavy it represented value for us
As with all ARC courses, they offer a good number of upgrades and options, For this meeting, there was: The Roof Garden. Tickets are priced at £56.00 (advanced booking). This is located on the top floor of the Langridge Stand and has a canopied roof, offering excellent views and access to all areas of the course. After this is the Paddock Pavilion Restaurant, which is a large marquee located next to the parade ring and close to the winning post. For £99.00 (advance booking), for under 18s, the cost is £55.00. You get a two-course summer menu meal and, again, access to all areas of the course.
At the very top of the range is the notch Royal Crescent Restaurant, located on the second level of the Langridge Stand. It has a private viewing balcony, a private table for the whole fixture, a three-course menu, which actually gives you a choice for each course, full waiter service, and a racecard thrown in for good measure. This will set you back £149.00 a ticket (advance booking), or £75.00 for under 18s.
The Royal Crescent Restaurant – Bath Racecourse
Catering: Here at Racecourse Advisor, we enjoy doing “racecourse reviews” and not restaurant reviews. Nor do we pretend to be food critics. Our aim is to give you an overall idea of what is available regarding the culinary options and prices at the track on racedays.
The food and catering options at Bath Racecourse are plentiful, to say the least. However, the majority of them are what we call “street food vendors” in carts, vans, or huts based at various locations around the back of the stands. The main dedicated food and drink area in the stands is the 1811 bar, which is located at the rear of the Langridge stand. Regarding food, it was only selling pizzas at £11.00 a pop, and the selection was somewhat limited with just margherita and pepperoni options.
On to the “street food vendors” it is. There was a sausage grill stand, selling a foot long hot dog, served with cheese sauce, with or without onions, for £8.50 each. Not far away was a van selling hot, slow-cooked roast pork rolls with stuffing and apple sauce for £8.50 a serving. Loaded Yorkshire puddings with pork, mixed vegetables, roast potatoes, and cider-infused gravy for £12.00 a pop. A serving of roast potatoes set you back £5.00, and a serving of gravy was £2.00 (we are not sure they would get away with that in Yorkshire!).
Some of the food & catering options – Bath Racecourse
There was a large outlet selling “Loaded Fries,” with exotic options such as breaded chicken with Katsu curry and fries for £10.00 a go. Pizza fries are £9.00 for a margherita or £10.00 for a pepperoni. Halloumi fries, with deep-fried cheese, for £8.00. Spicy beef meatballs, or cheese and bacon with fries at £8.00, and cheese and BBQ fries for £7.00. A selection of sauces such as tomato, mayonnaise, BBQ, sriracha, or sweet chilli, can be added if desired. Cans of drinks such as Tango, 7-Up, Pepsi Max, etc. for £2.50
There was also a burger van named “Beefy’s” knocking out a classic burger and fries (with or without onions) for £10.00. A cheeseburger and fries for £11.00 and a version with smokey cheese this time, along with bacon and fries for £12.00. Chicken goujons and fries are £10.00. Cheesy fries for £7.00 a serving, and a hotdog for £7.00. Tea and coffee are £2.50 a cup. We are pleased to report that there was the “Pasty Shack” selling traditional Cornish pasties for £7.00. A cheese & onion pasty for £6.50, a large sausage roll for £5.00, and a deluxe cup of hot chocolate with cream, and a flake for £5.00. In addition to the above, there was a “Wood Fired Pizza” van knocking out a margherita for £10.00, a pepperoni for £12.00 and a veggie option with mushrooms, onions, and peppers for £11.00. The pizza of the day was spicy jerk chicken at £13.00 a time.
Finally, there was also a Mr. Whippy ice cream van on site, who got very grumpy at us for taking a picture of his van “without permission” for some completely unknown reason.
Onto the drinking outlets: The Beckford bar at the back of the Kelston Stand was serving up Carlsberg larger, Somersby cider, and Shipyard ale, all for £5.90 a pint. Guinness was £6.50 a pint, but as at all ARC courses, they charge a £0.50p surcharge for a plastic reusable pint pot. House red, white, and rose wine was £6.50 a glass (187ml) or £26.00 for a bottle. Prosecco was £11.00 a glass (200ml), a bottle of the same was £40.00, and Prosecco Rose was £41.00 a bottle.
Some of the bar & drinks options – Bath Racecourse
Spirits such as Smirnoff vodka, Johnnie Walker (red) whiskey, Gordons Gin, Bacardi, and rum were all £4.40 for a 25ml shot. Soft drinks are £3.00 each, still water at £2.50, and a J20, if that’s your fancy, is £3.10. However, it has to be mentioned that the queues to be served were huge. We estimated an average wait of around 20 minutes. The outside self-service “Ebar,” where you queue, pay by credit card, and serve yourself, was no better either. That doesn’t give you much time to do anything else when the races are spaced only 30 minutes apart from each other.
There was also a Pimm’s bar, selling… Pimm’s. £13.00 a pint or £33.00 a jug. In addition to this, there was also a dedicated Prosecco bar, yep, you guessed it, selling Prosecco at £11.00 a glass or £40.00 a bottle. Ponte Rose Prosecco for £15.00 a glass or £58.00 a bottle, and finally, Bottega Rose for £15.00 and £63.00, respectively.
If you were still thirsty after all of this, then not to worry. A dedicated Champagne bar at the front of the Kelston stand, facing the racecourse, was also up and running. All of the Prosecco options above were available, along with Heidsieck champagne at £11.00 a glass or £59.00 a bottle, Taittinger Brut at £85.00 a bottle, and a bottle of Laurent Perrier Rose at a mere £120.00 a bottle.
Finally, there was a mobile cocktail van knocking out the classics such as an Espresso Martini, a Pornstar Martini, or a Mojito for £11.00. And the not-so-classic, Lychee on the Lips or a Bramble for the same price.
Overall, there was a vast array of food and drink outlets and options available on the day. The majority of them are supplied by outside caterers. It would be interesting to see how many were open at a smaller meeting. However, our racecourse reviews are based on what we see and find on the day of our visit.
Therefore, overall, there is plenty of choice and options to suit all tastes and pockets. The downside being the very large queues in the bar areas. Rating: 7/10.
Guinness Standard: The draught Guinness was £6.50, a pint and the usual ARC surcharge of £0.50p for a reusable plastic pint pot was applied. Therefore, £7.00 a pint if you are only having one. We used to moan about this surcharge until we were forced to drink Guinness out of a “biodegradable paper cup” at Newbury. Since then, we all agree that it is worth every penny and count our blessings. It was a pretty good pint as well, to be fair. Rating: 8/10.
Viewing: The viewing experience at Bath Racecourse is very good. The horses are in view for 95% of the time during racing, regardless of where you are situated. There is a large mobile TV screen situated right on the winning post.
The course has three separate stands, which are: the Kelston Stand, the County Stand, and the Langridge Stand.
The Kelston Stand is where the private boxes are situated, and it directly overlooks the finishing straight and the winning post. Immediately to the left of the private boxes (when viewing the racecourse), is a small but more traditional stand. This has a terrace of around 15 concrete viewing steps, which leads to up to a seating area of around half-a-dozen rows of plastic seats, and immediately above them is another standing area at the back of the stand. It has a large roof, so the standing area at the back and the seating area have plenty of shade or cover if required.
The very front area of the stand is uncovered, so it is open to the elements. The view of the course and the horses when racing from here is really first-class.
The Kelston (left) & Langridge Stands - Bath Racecourse
Next to this is the County Stand, which is tiny. It has around half a dozen concrete steps and no cover or shelter whatsoever. We imagine that this stand would only really be used on busy days at the course. In front of both the Kelston and County stands, there is a grassy or turfed area that has numerous picnic tables and chairs available to the general public.
At the far end of the three stands is the jewel in the crown at Bath, which is the Langridge Stand. It was opened in 2016 and has a large, canopied roof, which is very Goodwoodesque at first sight. The stand has three levels, with the top floor being the roof garden and bar area, which really does offer superb views of the racecourse and beyond.
The second floor is the Royal Crescent Restaurant, which is the main restaurant for the corporate hospitality offered at the racecourse. We managed to gain access for a quick look around, and we were impressed. It’s a large open space with its own private viewing balcony and excellent views of the course and the run-in, up the home straight.
The lower floor is a terraced stand, which is open to the general public for viewing. It leads down onto a grassy area facing the home straight. There is, however, limited cover or shelter in this area. Overall, in our opinion, the stands and viewing experience at Bath Racecourse are very good. Rating: 9/10
Parade Ring / Winners Enclosure: The parade ring is located adjacent to the Kelston Stand, not far from the finishing post. It is large in size and has very good viewing.
You can gain access to around 80% of the perimeter, which is railed off and hedged all of the way around.
The pre-parade ring (top left). The winners enclosure (top right) & the parade ring (bottom) – Bath Racecourse
The owners & trainers bar is positioned to the right, where there is a large, turfed area that has a good number of tables and chairs on it. The winners enclosure is located inside the parade ring at the front. The pre-parade ring is located behind the parade ring and to the right. Racegoers are not able to get close up to this area, with only a small area accessible for viewing. In our experience, and relative to other racecourses we have reviewed, it rates highly. Rating: 8/10.
Bookmakers / Betting Facilities: The main bookmakers’ pitch is situated directly in front of the three stands. There were at least 30 bookmakers doing more than a brisk trade on the day of our visit. There are also another 5 or 6 bookmakers located at the far end of the Langridge Stand, and another handful positioned close to the parade ring.
The main bookmakers pitch – Bath Racecourse
A large BritBet concession is located behind the stands on the main concourse. In addition to this, there are a good number of Tote counters conveniently located in the stands and around the racecourse area. There is no problem placing or picking up a bet here. Rating: 9/10.
Friendliness of Course Staff: There was numerous staff about the course. All were very friendly and helpful. No issues in this area. Rating: 10/10.
Pros & Cons: Bath Racecourse is a wide open, picturesque track located high up on Lansdown Hill. Access from the M4 or Bath City centre is straight forward and relatively, hassle-free. The surrounding areas and views around the course are superb. The free parking was very easy on the golf course next to the track. The viewing experience at the racecourse, is indeed very good. The parade ring and the viewing of the same are also excellent.
The cons for us were the price of the tickets on the day. £31.00 is expensive, even if the Wurzels are playing after the racing has finished. Obviously, the pricing was aimed at concertgoers, and not racegoers.
The other notable downside was the very large queues in the bar areas inside the stand and also at the Ebar outside on the main concourse. As always, the big question is: would we return to Bath Racecourse, given the opportunity? The answer from us is definitely yes. Rating: 7/10.
VIP Watch: No VIPs were spotted on the day of our visit.
Wi-Fi / Internet Connection: Free Wi-Fi is available on the ARC portal. This requires you to enter all the usual questions, such as name, age, gender, email address, etc. However, once you have registered, Wi-Fi is immediately available at ARC racecourses. The connection was not exactly reliable on the day of our visit and constantly dropped out, which was unfortunate.
Overall Racecourse Advisor Rating: 7.9/10
The full day's racing results can be found here: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/meeting/2023-08-19/bath/99312
Facilities & location Map of Bath Racecourse: (Image: credited & acknowledged to ARC Ltd)
Aerial View of Bath Racecourse: (Image: credited & acknowledged to Google Earth)
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