Date of Review: 15th June 2023
RCA Reviewers: Mr Shrewdy & The Doctor.
Address: The Racecourse, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 7NZ
Phone: 01635 018884
Hotel Accommodation: https://www.booking.com/landmark/gb/newbury-racecourse.en-gb.html
Track Layout: (Image: courtesy of & acknowledged to At The Races)
Course Information: Newbury Racecourse is one of the few independently owned and run racecourses in Britain and hosts 31 meetings a year, both on the flat and over jumps. It’s an oval-shaped, left-handed course that is one mile and seven furlongs in circumference, with a long four-and-a-half-furlong home straight. Races from 5-furlongs up to a mile are held on a straight course via a chute.
Due to the wide, easy bends, it is a very fair track and more suitable for front-running, galloping, and long-striding types of horses. Due to these characteristics, many high-profile trainers bring their top 2-year-olds here to make their first start on a racecourse. On the jumps track, chasers need to be accomplished jumpers, as the fences are stiffer than at a lot of other courses. Each circuit consists of eleven fences, with two open ditches and four fences in the last 250 yards of the home straight.
For this reason, horses that are held up, are often successful at Newbury. The course holds a number of prestigious races, such as the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup), the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, the Betfair Hurdle, and the Betfair Denman Chase.
Horse racing in the Newbury area dates as far back as 1738 on Walsh Common. The very first recorded race meeting at Newbury was a two-day meeting in 1805. The first meeting on the current site was held in 1905 and had a crowd of over 15,000 in attendance.
The winner of the first ever race was Copper King, at odds of 100/7. The Jockey Club had previously, twice rejected plans for the racecourse; however, strings were pulled in high places and the next application was supported by no less than King Edward VII and was unsurprisingly nodded through. National Hunt racing was introduced in 1906.
Racing ceased at Newbury during the First World War, when the site was used as a prisoner-of-war camp for German soldiers. In January 2021, the site was again closed and used as a COVID-19 vaccination centre.
For those of us who do like a little bit of trivia, how about this: The late Queen Elizabeth II spent her 86th birthday on the course. She had two runners named Momentary and Sequence, but both failed to salute the judge.
The Racecourse Advisor Guide to Newbury Racecourse:
From M4 – Junction 13: Exit the M4 at Junction 13 and join the A34 for Newbury. Follow the signs for Newbury, joining the A339. Go straight on at the Vodafone roundabout and first set of traffic lights. For Car Park 2 – sat navs use postcode RG14 7PN (over the new bridge).
Keep in one of the two lanes to the left-hand side and, at the large roundabout (Robin Hood pub), take the second exit onto the A4 (London Road). Continue on the A4 for approximately 1.5 miles, then turn right onto the B4321 (Hambridge Road). At the mini roundabout, go straight on over the new bridge, then turn right at the roundabout on the other side, following the road past the Nuffield Health Centre.
From M3 – Junction 9: Exit the M3 at Junction 9 (signed to the Midlands, Newbury, and A34). Join the A34 heading north, leave the A34 at the exit sign posted Newbury B4640. Follow the B4640 towards Newbury and go through Newtown, to the roundabout with the A339 Basingstoke Road by the Swan Inn. Turn left onto the dual carriageway (passing St. Gabriel’s School on the right). Go straight on at the roundabout at the top of the hill.
For Car Park 2: sat navs use postcode RG14 7PN (over new bridge)
Continue on the A339 and go straight on at the Burger King roundabout, and straight on to the next large roundabout. At the Robin Hood roundabout, take the fourth exit onto the A4 (London Road). Continue on the A4 for approximately 1.5 miles, then turn right onto the B4321 (Hambridge Road). At the mini roundabout go straight on over the new bridge, then turn right at the roundabout on the other side, following the road past the Nuffield Health Centre.
On the day of our visit, we came in via the M3 route (above), the signage to the course was absolutely superb until we got within approximately a mile of it, and then it stopped. Nothing. We followed our noses and somehow, eventually, managed to find one of the car parks where we were allowed to enter. We think it was Car Park 5. We later discovered that the postcode required to reach the car park is RG14 7PN. Please make a note of this, as it will undoubtedly save you some time and hassle. We will put this down to us being Silly Billy’s and not checking beforehand.
By Rail: Newbury Racecourse has its very own, dedicated railway station, that is one stop from Newbury Station and has direct trains from London Paddington on major racedays. Absolutely ideal. On arrival at Newbury Racecourse station, it is a very short walk of around 2 minutes to the Racecourse, and entry via the East Gate.
By Air: Newbury Racecourse is approximately one hour away from of Heathrow and Southampton airports. Not so good, if you are jetting in for a race day. Rating: 7/10
Parking: Once you do eventually get to the racecourse, there is ample free parking. However, there is a strict hierarchy of car parking that needs to be followed: Car Park 1 – located in the centre of the course – is open on all Saturday racedays in 2023 as well as Thursday 9th November and Friday 1st December and this car park is strictly reserved for Newbury Racecourse Members and those with Premier Enclosure tickets on these dates.
Car Park 2 is strictly reserved for owners & trainers, jockeys, officials, and the media. Car Park 3 is for horse boxes. Car Parks 4 and 5 are for mere mortals such as us. Car parking is taken seriously at Newbury, so much so that a detailed, colour-coded map and instructions can be found here: https://newburyracecourse.co.uk/racing/layout-and-car-parking/
To be fair, when you do arrive at car parks 4 and 5 there is a golf buggy type of vehicle with a driver which will ferry you directly to the course entrance. Now that is a nice touch! Rating: 8/10.
Pricing: On the day of our visit, pricing into the Grandstand was £22.00 if purchased at the gate and £19.50 if booked in advance. At this meeting, these tickets allowed full access to the Premier enclosure. It has to be said that, in our opinion, that is excellent VFM (Value for Money).
However, please be aware that at other meetings, it can cost £10.00 for an upgrade from the Grandstand to Premier enclosure. The facilities in the Grandstand are somewhat basic in regard to course access, viewing, and catering when compared to the Premier Stand. So please be aware of this. Concessions of £5.00 are available for the over 60’s and students (proof of ID is required). Under 18s are admitted free.
On a racecourse of this size and stature, hospitality options are abundant. Examples are: The Racegoers Package, which gives you a ticket into the Grandstand enclosure and the Racegoers Restaurant, with a three-course buffet meal and a race card thrown in for good measure, is £104.00 Racegoers Package with Premier: This is a ticket into the Premier enclosure, a private table in the Racegoers Restaurant, and a three-course table buffet and race card for £114.
Then there is the Lounge 303 Package, which brings a Premier enclosure ticket, access to Lounge 303 on the third floor, a two-course food selection, and a resident tipster. If going upscale is your fancy, then head for the Hennessy Full Package option. This gets you a Premier Enclosure ticket and entry into the Hennessy Restaurant with a private table. Champagne on arrival, a three-course al carte menu, afternoon tea, mineral water, and a race card for circa £149, depending on the meeting. What more could you wish for?
To briefly summarise: a good variety of ticket options and packages to suit all tastes and budgets.
The official race card was £4.00 and was 48 pages thick, with a hefty 21 full pages devoted to advertising. Most noticeably, it had the best map/layout of any of the racecourses we have visited. An excellent double page spread that made navigating around the course very easy. It also highlighted the areas that were closed on the day as well.
Another nice touch was the inclusion of the train times to London and Bedwyn from the Racecourse station. Apart from the usual runners and riders for each race, there was no other informational content. Which we feel is a missed opportunity. Rating: 9/10.
Catering: At RCA we enjoy doing “racecourse reviews” and not restaurant reviews or pretending to be food critics; our aim is just to give you an overall idea of what’s on the menu at the track on race days and not turn this review into a food blog.
There is a good variety of food and beverage catering options at Newbury. Located in the imposing Berkshire Stand is the Berkshire Kitchen, which sells a large variety of sandwiches, such as: ham hock & chunky egg, chicken & chorizo, B.L.T. chicken, bacon and egg or tuna mayonnaise, to name but a few, at £4.95 each. Wraps of southern fried chicken, or sweet & spicy chickpea and mango for £4.95 along with paninis of BBQ chicken, ham & cheddar and a tuna melt for £6.05. So, a decent choice at decent prices.
The downside was that after only the second race, the cupboard was virtually bare, with less than half a dozen sandwiches and paninis in total left. If you are hungry on arrival at the course, our suggestion is to buy up quickly.
If you are looking for something a bit more substantial than a sandwich, then the Berkshire Kitchen also serves up a number of hot dishes, that include a beef brisket burger with jalapeno jam, Monterey Jack cheese, baby gem leaves on a toasted brioche bun with onion rings and truffle seasoned fries for £13.20. A similar plant based, vegan burger is also £13.20, A fish finger sandwich of lemon sole goujons, with crushed pea tartar in a fresh bloomer roll will set you back a mere £12.75, and a smoked Toulouse sausage ring with lentil bean and red wine cassolette, crispy garlic straw potatoes, and dehydrated sage leaves is a mere bagatelle at only £14.50. In our opinion.
While being somewhat exotic options for a racecourse, those prices are right at the top end of anything we have seen previously on our travels.
Some of the food & drink options - Newbury
Another food outlet is The Butcher’s Block. This offers beef chilli con carne with warm nachos, soured cream, guacamole and jalapeno peppers. Or, a plant based, vegan alternative. Buttermilk chicken served in a warm brioche bun with summer house slaw, pickled red onions, chipotle mayonnaise, or ranch Caesar dressing. Or once again, a vegan option of the same, all served with warm, hand cooked Maldon salted crisps for £9.95 per portion.
The course, also has its own on-site fish & chip shop, sited between the two stands, which we believe is always a bonus when on a racecourse. A portion of fish & chips is £12.25. A side of mushy peas and / or curry sauce is £2.50 each. Again, these prices, in our opinion, are expensive. While we didn’t sample them, it has to be said that the portions didn’t look overly large, and the chips looked somewhat undercooked for our taste. They were also served in cardboard containers with wooden utensils. When premium prices are charged, the paying customer, has an expectation that a premium product or service will be served or delivered. In our opinion, this was not the case at the chippy on the day of our visit. A minced beef & onion pie, or a beef & ale pie served with chips and mushy peas were also on offer for £9.95 each.
Located adjacent to the Crafty Filly outside bar area is the Carbonis food truck, which was offering breakfast buns of: bacon in a brioche bun, sausage in a brioche bun, portobello mushrooms in a brioche bun and a free-range egg in a brioche bun at £6.20 each. A full-on “Carbonis Breakfast” which is bacon, sausage, mushrooms and an egg served with toasted sourdough, will set you back £10.00.
Onto the drinks. There are a number of very nice bar areas around the racecourse, such as the Longroom Bar, the Many Clouds Bar and the very pretty Crafty Filly Bar which has an outside seating area adjacent to the parade ring. The prices were: A pint of Guinness costs £6.95. Renegade Larger at £6.50, or a pint of Queensbury Jack IPA or Carling Larger at £6.50 a pint the same as a pint of Carling Cider and Atlantic Pale Ale or Doom Bar. 500ml bottle of Peroni is £6.10, Best Bitter is £6.60 and it was good to see a couple of non-alcoholic beer options at £3.85 a bottle.
In the Many Clouds bar, white wine, rose and red wine are £7.50 a glass. If you feel like celebrating backing a winner, then a glass of house champagne is £18.75. There is also a self-serve bar area, where you literally scan your credit card and serve yourself a pint of beer from a beer tap. Mardi Larger was £6.75 a pint and Carling Cider was £6.50. So, numerous food and drink options in numerous locations.
The prices for the food, we feel, are excessive, and the prices for the drinks are pretty much standard for a racecourse. The bad news we have to report is that all of the beers / ciders etc. are served in biodegradable paper cups. Oh dear. See our comments and thoughts on this below: Due to the relatively high food prices and paper cups, we have deducted two points from our score. Rating: 6/10.
Guinness Standard: Draught Guinness is available at £6.95 a pint. However, very sadly, we have to report that it was served in a biodegradable paper cup. Yes, that’s right - Guinness in a paper cup. What on earth are these people thinking of? Whilst we fully understand, support, and agree that the planet needs to be saved, and that becoming carbon neutral and reaching Net Zero are genuine and honourable goals, we also know that certain lines have to be drawn, and serving Guinness, or any other alcoholic drink, for that matter, in a paper cup is a step too far. We were not the only ones to think that either.
The dreaded "biodegradable paper cups" at Newbury Racecourse
We chatted with other racegoers in the bar areas and did a quick Vox Pop with around 20 people, and not a single solitary one of them, liked it or thought it was a good idea. We fully understand that such decisions are made and decided and taken in what is thought, to be in the best interest of all concerned, but customers’ viewpoints and feelings should also be taken into consideration at the same time.
While such decisions may give the managers of the racecourse a warm glow, they also negatively impact on their paying customers’ “Raceday Experience”. Not only was Guinness served in paper cups, but also wine. When we asked at the outside Crafty Filly bar why this was the case, We were told that it was because they had run out of plastic wine glasses. This was over an hour before the first race. Rating: 6/10.
Viewing: Newbury Racecourse has three separate stands: the Hampshire stand, which is the closest to the course. The Berkshire Stand and the Dubai Duty Free Grandstand, which is the furthest away. The Hampshire Stand is a no-go area for mere mortals like us and is reserved for owners’ & trainers’ officials, annual members, and the like. Viewing from the Berkshire stand is excellent, and you can see the horses for around 95% of the time during racing.
The Viewing Experience - Newbury (top). Left: The Hampshire Stand. Centre: The Berkshire Stand. Right: The Grandstand (Below).
Plenty of tiered viewing, plenty of seats at the back, and also plenty of cover and shelter from the elements if required. There is also a large TV screen situated half a furlong from the winning post. The Dubai Duty Free Grandstand is large in size and situated around a furlong from the finishing line. The view is actually very good, with the obvious exception of seeing the horses hit the winning post.
On the day of our visit, it was officially closed, but we watched a couple of races from there to assess the view. Overall, the viewing at Newbury is very good. We were impressed. Rating: 9/10.
Parade Ring / Winners Enclosure: The parade ring at Newbury is oval in shape and located immediately behind the Berkshire stand and immediately in front of the Owners Bar area. It is absolutely huge, and it is also absolutely superb. A perfectly manicured hedge serves as a barrier around the front and sides. Stools are located at the bottom of the viewing area, and then there are around 4 tiers of viewing steps back to the concourse. There is full access around the entire ring. The horses reach the racecourse by a pathway that exits from the left-hand side of the ring.
The Parade Ring - Newbury
The winners’ enclosure is located within the parade-ring, towards the front. The viewing of the horses, jockeys, and connections is first class. The pre parade-ring is located at the back and towards the left-hand side. There is a large TV screen located in the parade-ring, towards the rear. However, it broke down shortly after the first race and was out of action for the whole day. Overall, the area is impressive. Rating: 9/10.
Bookmakers / Betting Facilities: The main pitch is at the back of the Berkshire Stand. On the day of our visit, there were around 20 bookmakers active, but the pitch could easily accommodate many more if required. William Hill concessions are also available, the largest being in the Berkshire Stand. Plenty of Tote counters are dotted about everywhere, so there are no issues whatsoever, on this front. Rating: 8/10.
Friendliness of Course Staff: There were plenty of course staff both outside and inside the racecourse, all who were very polite, friendly, and helpful. We couldn’t ask for anything more. Rating: 10/10.
Pros & Cons: Newbury is a Premier League racecourse without a doubt. It is vast in terms of size and amenities. We had a few issues finding the correct car park, but nothing major. The car parking is free, which is not always the case on racecourses of this size and prestige. Having its own dedicated railway station, is a big advantage. On the day of our visit, the pricing was excellent. However, be aware that at major meetings an upgrade maybe required to gain entrance in the Berkshire Stand and surrounding areas. Without this upgrade, the, viewing, access and amenities would be somewhat sparse we feel. While the food and beverage options are plentiful, they can be very expensive relative to other top racecourses we have visited, in our opinion.
The large TV screen in the parade ring was out of action for most of the day, but this was no real issues. We also, feel that we have to mention, the fee of £2.99 to use the cash machines on the course, That is nothing short of usurious. It is a blatant rip off of the paying customers who attend the racecourse, and it needs to be called out.
The parade-ring and winners enclosure areas is best in class and are very impressive. The bookmakers and betting concessions are very good, and all of the course staff couldn’t have been more helpful. Due to the expensive catering prices, and the outrageous cash machine fee that is charged, we have deducted two points from our rating. Rating: 7/10
VIP Watch: No VIPs were spotted during the visit.
Wi-Fi / Internet Connection: On the day of our visit, there was no problem whatsoever with the connectivity or speed of the Internet service provided.
Overall Racecourse Advisor Rating: 7.9/10
The full day's racing results can be found here: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/meeting/2023-06-15/newbury/97954
Facilities & location layout of Newbury Racecourse:
An Aerial Flyover View of Newbury Racecourse (Jumps Track) Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLxHM9agFzM
Aerial View of Newbury Racecourse:
(Image: courtesy of & acknowledged to Google Earth)
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