Warwick Racecourse

Date of Review: 22nd January 2024 

RCA Reviewers: Mr Shrewdy & The Doctor 

Address: Hampton Street, Warwick, Warwickshire, CV34 6HN.  

Website: https://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/warwick/ 

Email: warwick@thejockeyclub.co.uk 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/warwickracecourse/ 

Phone: 01926 405560 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WarwickRaces/status/1722253887892254966 

Hotel Accommodation: https://www.trivago.ie/en-IE/opr/hotels-near-warwick-racecourse?search=500-2616318 

Track Layout: (Image acknowledged & credited to Timeform & At The Races)

Course Information:  Warwick Racecourse is a left-handed turf, track, approximately 1 mile and five furlongs in circumference in the shape of a kite or an off-set triangle. It has a straight chute of around 250 yards in the bottom left-hand corner and four sharp bends, which need to be treated with respect. It is relatively flat, with the notable exception of a fairly steep incline after the finishing post, which then gradually descends as the horses approach the back straight. Due to its tight turns, it is very much considered a speed track where front runners often do well, and horses find it difficult to come from behind. It has five fences that come in quick succession along the length of the back straight, which are all downhill, this combined with the sharp bends, can cause problems. 

The hurdles course is situated on the inside of the chase track, so it is a bit tighter. It has six flights per circuit, one on the straight on the other side of the stands, one just before the home turn, and two on the run home. On the outer chase course, runners are required to negotiate ten fences per circuit, which includes the five on the back straight before approaching the home turn. The home straight has two fences and a run-in of just over a furlong after taking the last. 

While Warwick is not generally considered a difficult course, it can become very testing if its wet. This is due to the fact that the course is situated on slow-draining clay subsoil, so soft and heavy going is not unusual here. The course holds around 18 National Hunt meetings each season, from September to May. 

Course History: Warwick has a very long history and tradition, and racing can be traced as far back as 1694, which makes it one of the oldest courses in Great Britain. It’s major claim to fame is that in 1831, it was the very first racecourse ever to include a jump race in its programme, and therefore it can claim to have introduced National Hunt racing in England.

The first ever meeting at the current course location was held in 1707. However, it was over a hundred years later that the first stand was built and opened. This was funded by selling subscription tickets in 1815, which allowed members to attend race meetings for life. Racing ceased here during both World Wars, and in World War II, it was used as a base to house Italian prisoners of war. In 1967 the course was acquired by the Racecourse Holding Trust, which was the forerunner of the current Jockey Club. Up until 2014, Warwick Racecourse was a dual-purpose venue, holding both flat and National Hunt meetings. However, flat racing ceased in 2014 after a number of mishaps on the track. 

Warwick holds a number of important races during the year, not least the 3-mile, 5-furlong Classic Chase handicap, which is run over 22 fences and attracts many of the top stayers. In 2017, it was won by One For Arthur, who went on to win the Grand National in the same year. Another top race is the Kingmakers Novices Chase, which is a two-mile, Grade 2 race where top novice chasers often take part in preparation for the Cheltenham Festival. Winners of this race include Flagship Uberalles, Voy Por Ustedes, Long Run, Finian’s Rainbow, Saint Calvados, Rouge Vif, and Edwardstone.

Racecourse Advisor Trivia Time… The legendary Red Rum won at Warwick on the 28th August 1967, very early in his career. However, it was a flat race over 7 furlongs! So Warwick witnessed one of the greatest steeplechasers in the history of racing, but they never did see him jump. Here’s another little nugget of useless but interesting information for you… Lee Mack, the famous TV comedian and actor, had his first ever riding lesson on Red Rum when he was a stable boy working for Ginger McCain at Southport. Remember, you only ever get gems like these at Racecourse Advisor…

The Racecourse Advisor Guide to Warwick Racecourse: Course Access: By Car: The racecourse access when arriving is good, but not so good when departing. It is only a mile from the M40, junction 15, and also close to the M42, M5, and M6. The entrance is off Hampton Street, which is just off the A429 as you enter Warwick. However, exiting the racecourse is not good. The exit from the course is in a totally different place to the entry, and it leads you directly into the town centre of Warwick itself. Being an historical market town, the roads are tight and narrow. This leads to some serious traffic congestion after the race meeting has finished. Not good, so be aware. Due this we have deducted a couple of points from our rating. 

By Rail: Warwick Racecourse is served by two train stations: Warwick and Warwick Parkway. They are both only about 1 mile away from the racecourse. So a 20-25-minute walk or a taxi on arrival at either. Both of the above stations operate on the Chiltern Line, which runs between London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill. 

By Air: The nearest airport to Warwick Racecourse is Coventry Airport (CVT), which is around 10 miles away and a 25-minute drive, or Birmingham Airport (BHX) which is 18 miles away and a 40- minute drive by car. Helicopter landings are available on the course, but prior arrangement is required. Phone: 01926 405560 for further information. Rating: 7/10. 

Parking: Free car parking is available at the racecourse on a large grassy field directly opposite the main entrance. In very wet weather it might be a problem for drivers who do not have a 4WD vehicle. However, overall the parking is excellent. 

Warwick Racecourse also has its own caravan park and touring site (this is not owned by the racecourse and is a CAMC site and is closed during the winter months also) situated within its grounds. 55 caravan and motorhome pitches are available, all with electrical hook ups. Toilet and shower facilities are also available on site. For more information, please click on the link below:

https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/west-midlands/warwickshire/warwick-racecourse-club-campsite/ Rating: 10/10

Pricing: On the day of our visit, the cost of a ticket into the Main Enclosure at Warwick was £20.00.  For a group of ten or more people ordering online in advance, this was reduced to £17.50. Concessions are available to OAPs aged 65 and over of £5.00. These are only available on the day and cannot be booked online in advance. 

There was also an option to purchase an advance admission ticket with a ‘Horses for Courses Tour’ for £25.00, which we went for. This enabled you to enjoy a ‘full tour of the racecourse with a local racing expert’ one hour before the first race. More about this is in the review below. 

If you want to watch the races in style, then the 1707 Restaurant is for you. It is situated on the second floor, and the Award Winning 1707 Restaurant is glass-fronted overlooking the Winning Post. It has a private balcony offering stunning views of the course. While seated at your table, you will enjoy fantastic food, service, and of course, a spectacular view. 

The 1707 Premier Restaurant Experience, at £135.00 per ticket, gets you into the glass-fronted restaurant situated on the second floor of the main enclosure and has a private balcony overlooking the winning post. In this package, you get your admission ticket, a three-course set menu, with tea & coffee served after the meal. A table reserved for the day, and complimentary car parking, and a race card thrown in also. 

If money is no problem, then at £250.00 per ticket, you can go the whole hog with the VIP Experience option. This top-of-the-range offering brings with it a champagne reception, a four-course set menu, a full afternoon tea, a complimentary bar (beer, wine, & soft drinks), the local racing tipster, complimentary car parking and yes, a race card for you to keep as well. 

The race card for the day was a little thin at 32 pages, but pleasingly not too heavy on adverts and had a layout map of the course and facilities. This proved extremely useful as it showed which of the bars and restaurants were operating on the day. One two-page section that also appealed was 'Racing Phrases Explained' which proved 'every day is a school day’ with the two definitions of distance! Along with another page called 'Thoroughbreds Explained' with a section on the 5 main colours of thoroughbreds-brown, bay, chestnut, grey and roan and the modified genes that give the body and legs the colouring, while the mane and tail retain their original colour. Fascinating, if you like that type of stuff, we thought the £3 spent was much good value. This race card was a vast improvement on others we have seen recently at Jockey Club-owned racecourses, so maybe, just maybe, they are listening to the feedback of their customers. Let’s hope so. Rating: 7/10.

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. 

Unfortunately, in our opinion, the catering options on the day of our visit were poor, with a number of food and drink outlets being closed. The Westgate Bar, Coronation Bar, Castle Bar, and Dukes Bar were all closed. This left a very limited number of options for the punters who attended of the Food Market, the Scudamore Bar, and the Betting Hall Bar located in the William Hill betting concession. Not good. 

The Food Market is located in the Main Grandstand. However, unfortunately, it is not a food market by any stretch of the imagination. It is a single food concession located in a very small and cramped area, therefore constantly busy and congested (no doubt as all the other options were closed). Due to its size, it has nowhere near enough tables and chairs, so you have to be either very fast or very lucky to bag a seat. It is situated immediately next to the Westgate Bar (which was closed), so space is at a premium. The food menu and prices are shown on two screens located on the walls. For no apparent reason, they are shown as a rolling display; therefore, the screen keeps going blank while you are looking at it. We really have no idea why this is done, as it is pointless, and it would make a lot more sense and be far more convenient to keep the menu and prices shown permanently on the screen. 

However, it was offering up such delicacies as a BBQ pulled Jackfruit (vegan option) roll and a Dr Pepper BBQ beef brisket roll for £7.00 and £8.00 if you had the loaded fries. A vegan or traditional sausage roll for £5. A steak & ale pie for £6.00 and peri peri seasoned fries for £3.50. It also had a selection of packet sandwiches at £5.20 each, crisps at £1.20, and the same price for a selection of chocolate bars (Mars Bar, Twix, etc.). It also offered up a selection of cakes for £3.20 each. As for the drinks, it had tea for £2.90, an Americano coffee for £3.50, a cappuccino or latte for £3.60, an espresso for £2.90, and a hot chocolate, if that took your fancy, for £3.30. A can of Diet Coke or Lemonade was £3.00 and a can of regular Coke was £3.20, and mineral water was £2.60. 

As we were a bit peckish, we decided to give it a go. As we queued up, we noticed they were also selling Cornish pasties and chicken and mushroom pies, which, for some reason, were not on the menu. So we ordered one of each. On tucking into them, it became apparent that the Cornish pastie was a vegan option with no meat and not a traditional pastie (we did ask the question when being served). So, no problem, we took it back, only to be told it was a traditional pastie. Which it wasn’t, and showed the staff the contents, who then agreed with our verdict. We were then informed that all of the pasties on sale were the vegan option. OK, let’s change it for a traditional sausage roll (which was on the menu); nope, they only had vegan sausage rolls. As this was becoming all a bit too difficult, we ordered a Twix instead. We are, however, happy to report that the chicken & mushroom pie was pretty good, so at least something was positive. And that, dear reader, was the only standard ‘restaurant’ option (not including the hospitality options that are explained above) on the whole racecourse that day. 

The Food Market (top) & the street food vendors (below) at Warwick Racecourse

To be fair, there were two ‘street food’ vans on-site located across from the Winners Enclosure (shown below). The “Hog Roast” van was selling fries loaded with pulled pork and crispy onions onions or Fries loaded with lemon chicken and crispy onions for £12.00 a pop (ouch!). Or a pork baguette with stuffing and apple sauce and salad or a lemon chicken baguette with tomato and salad, for £10.00 each. These prices, in our opinion, are expensive. Very expensive.  

The other van was named “toast,” which was selling a selection of hot toasted baguettes such as bacon and tomato with brown sauce, bacon, cheddar cheese and chilli jam, or cheddar cheese, with sweet chilli jam all for £8.00. The pricing here being a bit more reasonable, but hardly VFM (Value For Money). They also sold a selection of hot drinks, such as a latte or cappuccino, for £3.80. A caramel wafer latte for £4.20. A flat white coffee, Americano, or espresso would set you back £3.80 each, and a luxury hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows for £4.50. 

No fish & chip van, and not even the ubiquitous burger van on site. Very poor. And we are not buying the excuse that the vendors don’t want to come due to the small crowds. The attendance on the day was more than decent.

Onto the bar areas. The Scudamore bar, which is situated on the first floor of the main grandstand, was serving Draught Prahva larger at £6.10 a pint. Draught Guinness, Cider Atlantic Ale, and Madri are all priced at £6.50. Spirits such as Cognac, Jamesons Irish whiskey, Bells whiskey, Captain Morgan spiced rum, Smirnoff vodka, Gordons gin, and Captain Morgans white rum all cost 5.20 for a 25-ml serving. Diet Coke and Lemonade are £3.00 a can. Regular Coke is £3.20 and Mineral Water is £2.60. Cans of wine at £8.00 each, alcohol free larger £4.20 and a can of Prosecco was £9.50.

The Scudamore Bar (top) and Dukes Bar (below) at Warwick Racecourse  

While Dukes bar, which is also located on the first floor of the Main Grandstand, was not operating, it was available as a seating area, so we took a look inside. It is strange. Supposedly based on the theme of a sporting lodge with burgundy-coloured carpets, a fireplace, and even a stags head mounted on the wall. To us, it looked more like the inside of your aunty Ethel’s living room circa 1972. We guess you could call it Kitsch, but to be honest, we thought it was just plain naff. 

We then decided to take a nosey at the Castle Bar, which is located in the Main Grandstand, but this time on the ground floor. Like most of the other bars on the racecourse, it was closed on the day, but we went inside and had a look anyway. We thought that Dukes Bar was a bit weird, but this goes up another couple of levels. We couldn’t work out what the theme of this bar was supposed to be at the time, and we still can’t.            

The Castle Bar - Warwick Racecourse

It’s a bar area with lots of kitchen table and chair-style furniture. There is a bookcase with old, vintage suitcases on top. An old leather Chesterfield sofa, an old jockey’s weighing machine, and an old wrought iron entrance turnstile. This is then all topped off by a baby grand piano plonked in there for no obvious reason. Very strange indeed. 

Overall, in our opinion, the catering at Warwick on the day of our visit was not good by any measure. Nowhere near enough outlets and options, and relatively expensive compared to a lot of other similar racecourses we have visited in recent times. Also, when we entered the racecourse, there was a member of staff checking that you didn’t bring in your own food or drink. So if you are thinking of making and bringing your homemade butties with you, you can forget that idea.

The Jockey Club really does need to do better than this and up their game if they want customers to return to their racecourses on a regular basis. Significant improvements are required in this area. Rating 5/10.                                                   

Guinness Standard: We had a pint of Guinness in the Scudamore Bar. The pricing was pretty standard at £6.50 a pint. To be fair, it was a damn good pint of the black stuff. Well chilled and very tasty. Rating: 8/10.

Viewing: Unfortunately, we have to report that the viewing at Warwick Racecourse is not good. Not good at all. In fact, with the exception of Cartmel Racecourse, it is the worst viewing experience we have had at any racecourse on our travels so far. 

The main reason for the poor viewing experience is that when the horses start to enter the turn before the back straight, they go behind a hill, and they are completely and totally out of site for a full forty seconds of the race (yes, we timed it). Obviously, you can watch them on the large mobile TV screen, which is located immediately after the winning post, but you can watch them on a screen at home if you wish. For a race that lasts around 4 minutes, that means the horses are completely out of view for around 17% of the time. Also, when the horses do eventually, come back into view, the view is still somewhat obstructed due to trees.

 There are effectively two stands for your average or common-or-garden racegoer. There is the Main Grandstand, which is the largest and most modern (opened around 24 years ago), and the much older Central Stand. There is a third stand named Chandler’s Grandstand; however, this is reserved for owners & trainers only.

The Viewing Experience: Warwick Racecourse – Main Grandstand.

The Main Grandstand is a two-tiered structure located on the finishing post. The lower tier is a concrete terrace with around a dozen or so steps. The view from here is nothing special. The view from the upper tier is much improved, to be fair, and this is where we watched the majority of the races. It has around two dozen terraced steps, and there are also a few wooden tables and plastic chairs situated at the very rear of this tier. Both tiers have netting on the underside of the roof to prevent bird droppings, which is a very good idea. 

The Central Stand, which is directly adjacent to the Main Grandstand, is a small wooden and steel affair, and apparently it is over two hundred years old and looks every single day of it, to be honest. The view from here was nothing to write home about either, so we didn’t hang around. Approximately 100 yards from the winning post and near the winners enclosure, situated next to the running rail, there are a good number of wooden picnic- style tables and benches. There are viewing platforms on both levels of the main grandstand that are available for wheelchair users. 

However, as stated above, due to the horses being completely out of site for a considerable period of time during each race, we feel we have no choice but to score the viewing experience at this racecourse low. Rating: 4/10.

Parade Ring / Winners Enclosure: The pre-parade ring, parade ring, and winners enclosure are located at the very left-hand side of the racecourse (looking from the stands), next to the running rail, around 200 metres from the winning post. On the day of our visit, there was full access to the pre-parade ring, which isn’t always the case. There are around 10 or so stalls. 

The parade ring itself, is tarmacked and fenced off with white plastic rails, with a hedge running all of the way around it, which does improve the aesthetics of the area. It is large in size, with access around most of its perimeter; therefore, the overall viewing is good. However, the area is not tiered to improve the view. There are a small number of stools located on the stand side of the ring. It is very neat, tidy, and functional, but nothing special. The Parade Ring, (top) & the Pre-Parade Ring, Winners Enclosure & Raised

The Parade Ring, (top) & the Pre-Parade Ring, Winners Enclosure & Raised / Accessible Viewing Area (below) – Warwick Racecourse

Same with the winners enclosure, which is directly next to the parade ring but totally separate from it. Once again, tarmacked and a decent size. Fenced off in white plastic, with the same hedge running around its perimeter. No raised viewing here either. Directly adjacent to this is an accessible, raised viewing platform for wheelchair users. The jockeys weighing room is directly opposite the parade ring. Rating: 6/10. 

Bookmakers / Betting Facilities: The main pitch for the independent bookmakers is located directly in front of the main grandstand, on a concourse that leads down to the running rail and racecourse. On the day of our visit, there w around 20 bookmakers here and two further bookmakers close to the parade ring and winners enclosure, which was more than enough.

The Parade Ring, (top) & the Pre-Parade Ring, Winners Enclosure & Raised / Accessible Viewing Area (below) – Warwick Racecourse

Same with the winners enclosure, which is directly next to the parade ring but totally separate from it. Once again, tarmacked and a decent size. Fenced off in white plastic, with the same hedge running around its perimeter. No raised viewing here either. Directly adjacent to this is an accessible, raised viewing platform for wheelchair users. The jockeys weighing room is directly opposite the parade ring. Rating: 6/10. 

Bookmakers / Betting Facilities: The main pitch for the independent bookmakers is located directly in front of the main grandstand, on a concourse that leads down to the running rail and racecourse. On the day of our visit, there w around 20 bookmakers here and two further bookmakers close to the parade ring and winners enclosure, which was more than enough.

The Bookmakers Pitches (top) and the William Hill Concession (below) – Warwick Racecourse

There is also a large William Hill concession located on the ground floor of the main grandstand, which has a bar, so you can wet your whistle while picking the winners. This together with the numerous Tote facilitates that are all over the racecourse, is more than enough. No problems whatsoever, getting a bet on or picking up. Rating:10/10.

The Horse’s for Courses Guided Tour When choosing and paying for our tickets online for our visit to Warwick Racecourse, we noticed there was an option of a “Horses for Courses Tour” around the racecourse for an additional £5.00, which is limited to a maximum of 25 people, so in the pursuit of horseracing research and knowledge, we thought we would give it a go. 

The tour starts one hour before the first race and lasts around 45 minutes. It is conducted by a very knowledgeable, interesting, and humorous ex-amateur jockey called Simon Heald. Simon kicks off the tour by explaining the significant history of the racecourse and more-or-less what to expect on your day at Warwick. 

The tour commences from outside the main office, and the first stop is the upper level of the grandstand. From here, you walk through the main enclosure, with Simon showing what he believes is the best viewing area on the course. From there, it’s on to the middle of parade ring, with Simon explaining a number of little-known requirements, formalities, and rituals of the parade ring. Such as, the horses entered for the race are required to complete at least one full circuit of the parade ring before they are allowed to go down to the starting position on the track. Not a lot of people know that! From here, its onto to see the pre-parade ring.

The “Horses for Courses Tour” - Warwick Racecourse

After that, Simon took us onto the racecourse itself to show and describe the characteristics and construction of one of the hurdles (or, to use racing terminology, ‘flights’) used in the hurdle races, obviously. Each hurdle is made up of a number of lightweight panels of cut brushwood. Each has to be at least 3’6” in height. The panels are hammered into the ground, side-by-side, at an angle that creates a ‘flight’ for the horses to approach, jump, and land safely when racing. When this is done, the hurdle must be a minimum of 30 feet wide and the minimum of 3’1” in height. Every day’s a school day! 

We were then shown one of the weights that are used in the jockeys saddles, and the “weighing in” procedure was explained. Simon, then, with the help of a chart, explained how horses see colours differently than humans, why the hurdles / flight are the colour(s) they are, and how this aids the horses when jumping. All very interesting stuff if you like your horse racing. 

The tour finishes with Simon running the race card and imparting his considerable wisdom, knowledge, and tips on each race of the day. 

Was the tour worth a fiver? Overall, for less than the price of a pint, we think it was. However, the question we think should be asked is: should the tours be chargeable at all? Other courses, such as York and Goodwood, amongst others, offer tours that are totally free of charge. So what’s different at Warwick? That said, we did genuinely enjoy the tour and are glad we took the time and expense to do it. 

Friendliness of Course Staff: No problem in this area at all. There were more than enough stewards and staff on duty during the day of our visit. All are very friendly, helpful, and informative, particularly the steward who advised us how to access the inner of the track, for a view of the final flight. Rating: 10/10.

Pros & Cons: Pros: The free parking at Warwick Racecourse is excellent. As were all of the staff and stewards we came across on the day. There are plenty of bookmaking and betting facilities at the course, and the pint of Guinness we had in the Scudamore Bar is highly recommended. The race card, relative to other Jockey Club racecourses we have visited recently, was very good and is to be commended. 

The Cons: Unfortunately, in our opinion, the cons are significant ones. The catering on the day for the normal, average, non-hospitality punter or customer was poor. The majority of the bars were closed. At least one more bar area, of which there are plenty, should have been opened and operating. We fully understand that costs and overheads have to be taken into consideration, along with the difficulties of hiring temporary staff, but the overall ‘raceday experience’ for the normal, non-hospitality paying customers on the day should be equally considered, if not more. 

The very limited number of food concessions and options open on the day was inadequate. On top of this, the pricing of the food, in our opinion, and relative to racecourses of a similar size and stature, was very expensive. Particularly at the two “street food” vendors. Not having either a fish & chip van or a burger van on site was simply poor. The attendance on the day was more than adequate to justify at least one or both. 

The overall viewing experience at the racecourse is poor. As stated above, when the horses in racing completely disappear from view for the best part of a minute, it is not possible to rate it highly. 

For us, the course had a retro 1970s vibe about it, and we don’t think this is intentional. As always, the question is: would we return? The answer, very simply, is no. Or at least, let’s just say we won’t be rushing back anytime soon. Rating: 6/10 

VIP Watch: No VIPs were spotted at the course during the day of our visit. 

Wi-Fi / Internet Connection: No problem with the WI-FI / Internet connection at the course at all. You can log onto the Jockey Club App (no need to sign up or subscribe), and away you go. 

Overall Racecourse Advisor Rating: 7.3/10   

The full day's racing results can be found here:  https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/results/2024-01-22/warwick/780013/hazelton-mountford-insurance-brokers-juvenile-hurdle-gbb-race

Facilities & location layout of Warwick Racecourse:                       (Image: acknowledged & credited to The Jockey Club)

Aerial View Warwick Racecourse:                                                         (image acknowledged & credited to Google Earth)

Disclaimer: The reviews contained in the content of this website are just the opinions of the authors. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the authors, and not necessarily to any other group or individual. Any content or opinion provided in our reviews are not intended to malign any party, group, club, organisation, company, individual or anyone or anything whatsoever on any matter.