Date of Review: 26th January 2023
Address: Wetherby LS22 5EJ, United Kingdom
Phone: 01937 582035
Track Layout: (Image: courtesy & acknowledged to At The Races)
The oval course at Wetherby is 1 mile and 4 furlongs in distance and is run left-handed. It has a short, uphill run-in. Jumping ability is at a premium, but the easy bends mean that Wetherby is a fair test for all types of horses, including long striding, galloping types. Often, good jumpers and front runners fare well. This isn’t a course for making up much ground, even though it is fairly galloping in nature.
Basically, it will not reward getting too far back. Instead, the straight sprint track on the flat and sharp turning jumps course greatly rewards a runner that takes the initiative and is bold. The flat track at Wetherby is a fairly recent addition, with the first flat racing fixtures being held as recently as April 2015. The flat course, shares the hurdles course so, unsurprisingly, it has the same characteristics. Wetherby Racecourse has no straight course, so sprint races over 5 furlongs and 110 yards start on a chute at the end of the back straight. Statistics suggest that horses ridden prominently do best on the flat track at Wetherby.
Wetherby Racecourse, on the outskirts of Wetherby, West Yorkshire, staged its first fixture in 1891. The first grandstand was completed in 1906, but it wasn’t until after World War I and the expansion of the passenger railway network that the popularity of the course started to increase. The railway line serving the course closed in 1959, but Wetherby remains a popular racing venue, staging 20 flat and National Hunt fixtures throughout the season. The Millennium Stand, which cost £4 million, was opened in February 2000.
The Racecourse Advisor Guide to Wetherby Racecourse:
By Road: Wetherby Racecourse is located approximately 15 miles centrally between York, Harrogate, and Leeds. It is situated on the B1224, just minutes from Junction 46 of the A1(M) (Wetherby Services). Easy to get to and easy access out.
By Rail: It's not so easy to get to Wetherby by rail. Unfortunately, it does not have its own railway station. The nearest stations are Harrogate, York, and Leeds, all between 12 and 15 miles from the racecourse. Therefore, a 20 minute taxi ride is required. For this reason, we have deducted a point from the score. Rating: 7/10.
Parking: Free car parking is available on the racecourse grounds, directly outside of the main entrance to the course. The signage is good, and plenty of parking attendants are on hand to assist you. Be aware that the parking is predominantly on grass, so it may be tricky in the winter months for those without 4x4 vehicles. Also, there is a disabled parking area within 200 metres of the main entrance. It is also possible to park in the centre of course enclosure. Admission allows one car and up to four adults to enter. However, there is a cost to this. Rating: 9/10.
Pricing: There are a number of options for the mid-week admission charges at Wetherby: £23.00 into the Premier Enclosure, which gives you access to all areas of the course. There is also a £16.00 option into the Paddock Enclosure which is more than adequate: the only restriction is that you cannot gain access to the Premier Enclosure stand. There are concessions for OAPs (aged 66 or over) and students that bring the price down to £18.50 for the Premier Enclosure and £11.50 for the Paddock Enclosure. Children are admitted free of charge. The only downside is that payment for entry into the course is now by credit card only. A growing trend that in our opinion, is not a good one. Advance payment can be made, which also offers a £3.00 discount off the above charges, which is handy. Advance payment also gets you a £0.50p discount on a race Card if ordered. The race card was no great shakes and nothing really to write home about. Rating: 8/10.
Catering: As we both enjoy doing "racecourse reviews" and not restaurant reviews, or pretending to be food critics, our aim is to just give you an overall idea of what culinary options are available at the track on race days.
The catering at Wetherby is some of the best we have seen. On the upper level of the Wetherby Millennium Stand are the corporate hospitality suites which have a private viewing balcony, with a number of options depending on how flush you feel when booking them. The mid-level of the same stand offers a ‘Dine & View’ package, which offers a shared facility for up to 12 guests at a time, again with a private viewing balcony. The other option in this stand is the ‘White Rose Restaurant Package’ which is located on level 3 but strangely does not offer a view of the racetrack. You have to travel down a floor to watch the races, or you can watch them on TV if you want to stay put.
For the less well heeled and us mere mortals, there is a smart coffee shop just after the main entrance named ‘The Tack Room’ with tables and chairs and racing silks a plenty. They also have a nice line of cakes and pastries for those with a sweet tooth! Then there is the Bramham Hall Café & Bar just further down, which does the more traditional fish & chips or pie and chips for a reasonable £8.95 a pop. Just behind the viewing platform of the parade ring there are a couple of more than decent ‘street food’ stalls (as they are called nowadays).
One selling traditional fish & chips (£10.00) / chicken & chips (£8.50) / sausage & chips (£8.50), a fish finger sandwich (£8.00), or a chicken steak sandwich (£7.50). They also do a fine-looking portion of chips and curry for £5.50, and the portions look huge! Just next to that is another outlet that specialises in and sells a mean Cornish pasty for £5.00 a go. We went with the traditional steak variant, and it was more than a decent size and more than tasty! A good choice, we think. They also sell teas and coffees for £2.50 each. We got very excited when we saw they also do a Bovril drink, but alas, it was not available on the day. There is also a family picnic area and a children’s play area at the back of the Course Stand. Rating: 10/10.
Guinness Standard: Draught Guinness is available at £6.50 a pint, so it's not the cheapest but fairly average racecourse pricing. It was a nice pint, to be fair. The very good news is that the bars will accept cash on this course. There are signs saying that credit cards are preferred, but cash is accepted. Good old Yorkshire common sense, we think, and it's welcomed. Rating: 8/10.
Viewing: The viewing is excellent at this course! You can see the horses in running for around 98% of the time. In both the Premier Enclosure, and the Paddock Enclosure there are large, well-covered grandstands to watch the races from. Both have seating areas. The stand in the Paddock Enclosure, was clean and well maintained. One of the best we have seen so far on our travels. Rating: 9/10.
Parade Ring / Winners Enclosure: The parade ring at this track is huge, and it was also kept looking immaculate by the ground staff. Again, one of the best we have seen. It is set behind the Premier & Paddock Enclosures. It has a very large paved and tiered viewing area, and the winner's enclosure is immediately at the front of this, where the placed horses return.
The weighing room and administration offices are immediately behind it. The parade ring here also has a fantastic sculpture of a 15ft tall racehorse made entirely from used horseshoes. It is currently on loan from a Selby based artist named Ollie Holman, so it is not a permanent fixture. The sculpture is for sale if it takes your fancy! Rating: 10/10
Bookmakers / Betting Facilities: The main betting ring is in front of the Paddock Stand. There are around 9 or 10 bookies, with another 4 or 5 to the right inside the Premier Stand. So no problem getting a bet on or picking up. There is also a large William Hill outlet in the bar of the Paddock Stand, and more than enough Tote concessions dotted around the course. Overall, more than good. Rating: 9/10.
Friendliness of Course Staff: There are plenty of course staff in attendance, all of whom give you a good old Yorkshire welcome. They are more than helpful and very chatty. Rating: 10/10.
Pros & Cons: Overall, it has to be said that Wetherby is a superb, high quality racing venue that works hard at looking after its customers. Very easy access, straight off the A1. Bags of parking and reasonable admission charges. The view from the stands is truly excellent. A great range of catering / food options to suit all pockets and all tastes.
Good betting facilities and very friendly and helpful course staff. You know it’s good when the hand soap in the toilets is scented ‘Black Pepper & Ginseng’ – very classy! The big bonus is that the main bar also takes cash – common sense prevails – at last. What more could you wish for when going racing? We were impressed. Very impressed! Rating: 9/10.
VIP Watch: No VIPs to spot on the day we attended.
Overall Dave & Ray Rating: 8.9/10.
The full day's racing results can be found here: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/meeting/2023-01-26/wetherby/95491
Facilities & location layout of Wetherby Racecourse : (Image: courtesy & acknowledged to International Racecourse Management Ltd.)
Aerial View of Wetherby Racecourse: (Image: courtesy of & acknowledged to Google Earth)
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