Date of Review: 10th August 2023
RCA Reviewers: Peter The Apprentice, The Doctor & Mr Shrewdy
Address: Colwick Park, Nottingham, NG2 4BE
Phone: 0115 958 0620
Track Layout: (Image: courtesy of & acknowledged to At The Races)
Course Information: Nottingham Racecourse is actually two oval-shaped, separate circuits. The inner course is used in spring and autumn, and has a 5-furlong straight, while the outer course is used during the summer and has a 6-furlong run-in. Both are left-handed and have some tight bends and are approximately one-and-a-half miles in circumference. The courses are flat, except for some very small undulations around two furlongs from the winning post. Due to this course layout, well-balanced, front running horses often do well, as races tend to be run at an even pace, allowing those at the front to kick away, and go for home. For the short 5 and 6-furlong races, there is a straight course, which again suits front-running, speedy types of horses. It is not often that hold up horses come from the back and get up to win. There is a distinct draw bias, with horses that are closest to stand side rail. However, horses with a higher draw have an advantage when the going is soft or heavy. It is important to note, that the positioning of the stalls can be changed from the stand side to the far side of the course from meeting to meeting.
Nottingham has a rich horse racing history. There are records of racing taking place in the area that date as far back as 1698. In 1773, racing took place in an area known as Nottingham Forest (not Sherwood Forest), and by the 19th century, racing had moved to the current site of Colwick Park, on land owned by the Colwick Estate. It was one of the first racecourses to be given the royal seal of approval when it was granted a Royal Plate race around this time. Nottingham celebrated its centenary with the opening of a new stand, which was officially opened by the famous steeplechaser Desert Orchid. National Hunt racing ceased at Nottingham in 1992, despite a campaign and protests from a number of high-profile trainers. Racing nowadays is staged between April and September, and the course hosts around 18 fixtures per year.
Nottingham Racecourse also has a well-deserved reputation as a place where the top trainers introduce potential, high-class juvenile horses to racing. Legendary horses such as Golden Horn, Oath, Oh So Sharp, and Slip Anchor, to name just a few, all had success at Nottingham early in their careers. It’s trivia time! In 1971, Stan Mellor became the first National Hunt jockey to ride 1000 winners on a horse called Ouzo at Nottingham Racecourse. On April 1st, 1974, history was made at the course when it hosted the first ever race between male and female jockeys. On the 29th October 1985, Lester Piggott announced his retirement after riding his last winner, Full Choke, at Nottingham. However, after a stint in prison for tax evasion, he returned to racing (probably to pay his tax bill) to ride even more winners, the very last coming in 1995. Further to this, in October 1933, the great Gordon Richards rode the first of a world record 12 consecutive winners, the remaining 11 came over the following two days at Chepstow. And in 1935, three brothers, Arthur, Sam, and Harry Wragg, took the first three places in a race. Notably, in April 2013, there was a triple dead heat in a race at Nottingham. This was only the second time it had happened in over a decade. The horses, Thorpe Bay, Majestic Manannan, and My Time, all tied for joint fourth place in the Lodge Farm Stud Chris & May Mullin handicap over 5 furlongs.
The Racecourse Advisor Guide to Nottingham Racecourse:
By Road: The racecourse is situated only two miles from Nottingham City Centre, east of Nottingham on the B686 in Colwick. Our advice, if coming in from either direction of the M1, is to exit the motorway at junction 21A onto the A46 towards Newark and then take the A606 into Nottingham. This avoids Nottingham city centre, where, like most city centres, the traffic is notorious. This route is also very well signed from around 4 miles out. The opposite is true, if you do travel in via Nottingham city centre, where the traffic is heavy, and the signage is almost non-existent. From the east or west, follow the A52. Once at Nottingham, follow the brown or yellow park & ride signs to the racecourse. For sat-navs, the postcode is NG2 4BE.
By Rail: The racecourse is conveniently situated some two miles from Nottingham railway station. So a brisk walk, or a short taxi ride of around 10 minutes will get you there. By Air: The nearest domestic airport to the racecourse is East Midlands. It is approximately 14 miles away and around a 30 minute drive, taking the A453 road to the track. Nottingham City Airport (formerly Tollerton) which is a private airport, is around 5 miles away, and a 10 minute drive. Rating: 7/10.
Parking: Car parking at Nottingham Racecourse is truly excellent. Free parking is immediately outside of the main entrance, with a 20 yard walk to the turnstiles. There is a separate car park for owners & trainers, just to the left of the main car park. The easiest and most convenient parking we have experienced on our travels. Rating: 10/10.
Pricing: On the day of our visit, tickets into the grandstand were priced at £15.00 (£12.00 if booked online, in advance) each for a six-race fixture. This gives you access to all areas of the racecourse. This is pretty good VFM (value for money) for an afternoon’s racing, we feel. Under 18s go free, but a ticket is required. Concessions are available for over-65s, these are only available at the turnstiles, and the price is dependent on the adult ticket price. On the day of our meeting. the concession price ticket was £10.00.
If you would like to go a little more upmarket, then three other hospitality options are available. They are: The Classic Restaurant Experience which is priced at £79.00 per ticket. This is in Sherwood’s restaurant, which is located on the second floor of the main grandstand. A two-course a la carte meal is served, along with tea & coffee, Tote betting facilities, live TV racing, and a racecard for good measure. A notch above this, in the same location, is the Premier Restaurant Experience. This is identical to the above, but with a three-course meal being served for £95.00 per person. If you really want to push the boat out, then the Classic Private Hospitality Experience is for you. These are private boxes (minimum booking of 10 people), located on the first floor of the Centenary Stand, next door to the Centenary Suite. For £135.00 per person, you get a two-course finger buffet. Tea & coffee, bar and Tote facilities, live TV racing, and a racecard is thrown in as well.
Sherwood’s Restaurant – Nottingham Racecourse
A big disappointment for us, was the racecard. Again, we ask the question, is worth bothering at all, with a racecard? It was a lightweight publication at 24 pages and over 30% of them were full page advertisements. It didn’t contain a map showing the facilities and layout of the course, which to us is a basic prerequisite. Therefore, you need to use the display boards located on the walls to find your way around. To be honest, it contained nothing else of value or importance. Our advice is to keep your £3.00 in your pocket.
Overall, a number of pricing options, to suit a variety of pockets and tastes. As stated previously, a £12.00 advanced booking entrance fee, and £10.00 for a concession ticket, that gives you full access to all areas of the racecourse is a big tick in the box for us. Rating: 9/10.
Catering: Here at Racecourse Advisor, we enjoy doing “racecourse reviews” and not restaurant reviews. We do not pretend to be food critics either. Our aim is to give you an overall idea of what is available regarding the culinary options and prices at the track on racedays.
Unfortunately, in our opinion, the catering options, on the day of our visit to Nottingham were poor. There were only three food outlets open on the racecourse, which were a traditional fish & chip shop (always good news), a burger bar, and a café / tea & coffee shop named Ann’s Tea Room. Fish & chips were £12.00 per portion, which we feel is very much on the high side regarding pricing. Chicken goujons & chips, or scampi & chips will set you back £8.00. Cheesy chips are £5.00, and a portion of normal chips is £4.00. Mushy peas, curry sauce, and gravy are all £2.00 per serving. At the burger bar, a single gourmet burger was £8.00, and chips were £4.00 per serving. Tea & coffee are £2.50 per cup; hot chocolate £3.00. Canned drinks at £3.00 and bottled water at £2.50. So, inexpensive, it isn’t.
The food & catering options - Nottingham Racecourse
Ann’s Tea Room, which is situated between the Grandstand and Centenary Stand, is a quaint but small café, they were serving sausage rolls & pies (chicken, gammon & leek, steak & ale, and butternut, bean, & cheese) at £5.00 each. A selection paninis and toasties such as tuna melt, ham & cheese, Margherita, and cheese & onion for £4.50 each. Sandwiches and wraps such as, chicken & bacon club, cheese ploughman’s chicken salad, egg & cress, vegan club, feta rainbow, and chicken tikka are available for £4.00 each. There is a traditional sweet shop located across from the main grandstand, and an ice cream van was on site. Unusually, there were no other ‘street food’ vendors on the racecourse at all.
The main bar area is the Champions Bar, which is located on the ground floor of the main grandstand. It is of a decent size, with table and chairs, and it also has a Tote concession inside. Guinness was £6.50 a pint, Carling £5.95, Atlantic Pale Ale £5.95, and Aspall Cyder £6.20. There were also a couple of non-alcoholic options: Becks Blue at £3.80 a bottle and a can of Guinness 0% for £5.80. Red, white, and Rose wine were £7.70 a glass (187ml). If your fancy is the fizzy stuff, then a bottle of Prosecco Brut will set you back £42.15 a bottle. Prosecco Rose costs £45.15, and a bottle of the real thing, Pannier Champagne, will cost you £62.65 a bottle. Standard spirits are £4.90, and premium spirits (Jack Daniels, Courvoisier) are £5.20. Soft drinks such as Coke, Fanta, and Sprite at £2.70 per can, and a bottle of water was £2.50. The racecourse also has the Paddock Bar and the Robin Hood Bar; however, these were not open on the day of our visit. So overall, there is a very limited choice of food options and outlets, and the fish & chips and glasses of wine are a tad on the expensive side in our opinion. Rating: 6/10.
Guinness Standard: Guinness was £6.50 a pint, so pretty standard racecourse pricing. It was, however, a very good pint of the black stuff! Rating: 8/10.
The Racecourse Advisor reviewers testing the Guinness at Nottingham Racecourse
Viewing: Nottingham has two stands. The Centenary Stand and the Grandstand. The Centenary Stand is directly in front of the main parade ring and positioned slightly right of the winning post. This is where the private boxes and hospitality areas are located, so we didn’t get to see or view them during our visit. It has a lawned area and outside seating facilities facing the course, which did look nice.
Viewing at Nottingham Racecourse: Centenary Stand (above) the Grandstand (below
The main grandstand is of a decent size, and the far end of the stand, is directly in line with the winning post, which is excellent. It has concrete terracing of around thirty steps and plenty of barriers, but unfortunately, no seating whatsoever, which is not good. Ladies, in dresses, as it was a hot day were sat on the concrete steps, which isn’t good. The other problem is that it has 13 stanchion posts across the full width of the stand, which does restrict the viewing experience somewhat. The good news is that there is plenty of cover from the elements, should it be needed. The stand was built in 1983 after a fire destroyed the previous stand, and to be honest, it looks every day of its forty-year age.
The viewing of the horses while racing also has its problems. In the 5-and 6-furlong sprint races, the horses only really come into view proper at the 4-furlong post. In longer- distance races, particularly those of a mile and two-furlongs, the starting stalls are obscured by trees in the centre of the course. Viewing is also restricted while the horses are on the back straight behind the large, mobile TV screen, which is located around half a furlong from the winning post, and again, behind some trees further on. To be fair, the racecourse and the surrounding land are leased from the local council, so getting permission to remove trees and carry out any work that might improve the viewing experience for the spectators may not be that easy. However, we did notice that two local councillors are on the committee of Nottingham Racecourse, so dialogue and discussion to improve things going forward may be possible. Rating: 6/10.
Parade Ring / Winners Enclosure: The parade ring is the jewel in the crown of the racecourse. It is indeed very nice. It is large in size, and located immediately behind the Centenary Stand, opposite the owners’ & trainers’ entrance, and fairly close to the course itself. It is large in size, and access is available all the way around its perimeter, which we like. The viewing of the horses, while they are parading is excellent. It has concrete steps for tiered viewing. The winners’ enclosure is located within the parade ring, towards the front, so once again, the viewing is very good. There are a number of wooden, garden furniture-style benches dotted around, but not that many. There is also a separate, raised viewing area for the disabled, which is well located to the left.
The pre-parade ring (top left) and parade ring – Nottingham Racecourse
The pre-parade ring (top left) and the parade ring – Nottingham Racecourse The pre-parade ring is located immediately to the left of the main parade ring, and again, it is very large in size, with plenty of well-manicured grassed areas. On the day of our visit, entrance was restricted to owners & trainers only. However, the view from the side was still very good. Overall, a large, very nice, well-kept area that provides excellent viewing for all. We were impressed. Rating: 9/10.
Bookmakers / Betting Facilities: The main bookmakers’ pitch is situated directly in front of the grandstand. There were around 10 bookmakers in attendance on the day of our visit, doing a brisk trade. There is also a large William Hill concession located on the ground floor of the main grandstand. This, together with the numerous Tote counters on the course, makes placing and picking up a bet absolutely no problem. Rating: 8/10.
The main bookmakers pitch – Nottingham Racecourse
Friendliness of Course Staff: There are plenty of very friendly and helpful course staff on the racecourse, notably in the car park and at the pre-parade ring. We also spotted a couple of litter pickers going about their business, which is great. Rating: 10/10.
Pros & Cons: Overall, Nottingham is a very spacious and picturesque racecourse. It is very well maintained, with plenty of lawned and grassed areas that facilitate outside seating areas. Car parking on the course is a doddle. The parade ring and the pre-parade ring are top notch and a credit to the course. As are the course staff, who were in attendance that day. Very friendly, helpful, and chatty. The cons were the restricted food and catering options on the day of our visit. They were limited, to say the least, and near the top end regarding pricing relative to our experiences on other similar racecourses. The viewing experience could be better, and the main grandstand has seen better days. However, that said, a most enjoyable day of racing was had by all concerned. Rating: 6/10.
VIP Watch: No VIPs were spotted on the day of our visit.
Wi-Fi / Internet Connection: Free Wi-Fi is available on the Jockey Club 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 all Jockey Club racecourses. You can also log in as a “guest” without answering the questionnaire if desired, which is good. The connection was fast and reliable. No issues whatsoever.
Overall Racecourse Advisor Rating: 7.9/10
The full day's racing results can be found here: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/meeting/2023-08-10/nottingham/99113
Facilities & location layout of Nottingham Racecourse:
(Image: acknowledged & credited to the Jockey Club)
Aerial View Nottingham Racecourse:
(Image: Courtesy of & acknowledged to Google Earth)
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