You don’t need to be at Aintree on Grand National day to find a great horse racing atmosphere. In fact, you’ll probably have a better day out with all your pals at a less well-known course – you’ll be closer to the action, and you’re not forking out £200 each for a ticket. Each year The Haydock Racecourse hosts the Betfair Chase (the first leg of the prestigious £1 million Triple Chase Crown), The Haydock Sprint Cup, and a variety of other meets. Whether you’re watching the best jockeys and horses in the world fight it out for a million pound prize pot or watching a regular weekend meet, Haydock Races always delivers a quality afternoon.
Situated in Merseyside, halfway between Manchester and Liverpool, and set over 127 acres of beautiful parkland, Haydock Racecourse hosts a variety of flat and jump races over the calendar, and was twice voted ‘Racecourse of the Year’.
As always, a day out at the races is as much about the buzz and excitement of the day as the horse racing itself, thankfully Haydock caters to both. Haydock Racecourse boasts a huge number of bars and eateries; pick up a beer at the Paddock Bar whilst you place your bets or, if you’re feeling fancy, enjoy a glass of champagne at the Moet et Chandon Bar.
The Main Meets at Haydock Racecourse
The Betfair Chase
Haydock Racecourse hosts the first leg of the prestigious Triple Chase Crown (the other two legs are the King George at Kempton Park, and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham). This is a Group 1 National Hunt Steeplechase and with £1 million in prize money up for grabs. The best horses and Jockeys in the world turn up for the occasion and you’ll have a front row seat. Raced over 3 miles and with 19 fences to jump, this race is always hotly contested and a spectacle to watch. The Betfair Chase is scheduled to take place in November each year.
The Sprint Cup
As the name suggests, The Sprint Cup is a flat out short sprint, run over only 6 furlongs and although this race is short, it’s by no means any less thrilling to watch. The Sprint Cup at Haydock is another Group 1 race and, with the 2020 prize money of £225,000 on offer, it too attracts the world’s best talent in horse racing. You’ll catch The Sprint Cup in early September each year.
The Bet365 Old Newton Cup
A flat handicap race ran over 1 mile and 3 furlongs and a purse of £60,000, the Newton Cup is Haydock Racecourse’s biggest summer meet. It has a rich history, and has been won by most of the big names in horse racing – the likes of Pat Eddery, Willie Carson and Frankie Dettori have all found themselves in the winners enclosure at Haydock. It’s a highly competitive race, which has seen many upsets over the years, and is always a wonderful social occasion. This race is scheduled to take place in July each year.
Betway Sparkling Saturday
One of the few events of the horse racing calendar where you’re permitted to bring your own bottle of Champagne, Prosecco or sparkling wine into the racecourse with you! Tickets are cheap (as low as £10) and even picnics are permitted (in the Be Friendly enclosure), so this really works out to a cheap and cheerful day out with friends. This is definitely a more relaxed meet for more casual racing fans, with a DJ playing after the racing finishes to keep the party going into the night. Sparkling Saturday happens at the end of May or the start of June each year.
Other Haydock Racecourse Meets
There are plenty of other meets at Haydock Racecourse that happen from early May all the way through to the end of December. All the meets are on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with (the exception of two December meets). Look out for the race meetups that also have live music once the racing has finished! In 2020 Haydock was set to be hosting Nile Rogers & Chic, Jess Glynne and Rick Astley. In 2021 we’re expecting to see Tom Jones and Olly Murs.
Enclosures & Dress Code
The ‘Be Friendly’ Enclosure
This is the most relaxed and cheapest enclosure available, with tickets as low as £10, the Be Friendly enclosure is best suited for families and casual race-goers, who are looking for a great day out. You can get group-discounts for pre-booked tickets and you can sometimes bring in your own food and drink to this enclosure, so it’s worth checking all of this when buying your ticket. You’ll still get access to the cafeteria, bar and totes, but this enclosure is only open during the larger meets.
There’s no formal dress code in this enclosure but they ask you to not turn up without a shirt on (shouldn’t be too difficult to adhere to!). You’re more than welcome to go in fancy dress in these enclosures so long as the costumes aren’t offensive. Still, you’ll find a lot of people in these enclosures will dress up for the occasion, so you certainly won’t be out of place in your finest gladrags.
The Grandstand and Paddock Enclosure
The largest of Haydock’s four enclosures, The Grandstand and Paddock is the most popular choice for both casual and seasoned race-goers. Great views of the racing and three raised viewing areas, plus access to the Winners Enclosure and Parade Ring, makes this enclosure is a great choice for the full horse racing experience. You’ll have access to a number of bars, eateries and a lawn area in the summer, plus totes and on-track bookmakers to place your bets. Prices vary depending on the day, however you should expect to pay somewhere between £15-25.
The official dress code in this enclosure is the same as in ‘Be Friendly’, but expect a few more well dressed punters here.
The County Enclosure
Here you’ll gain access to seated and standing viewing areas, the Parade Ring, the Winners Enclosure, plus access to the Centenary Stand and the Moet et Chandon Champagne & Seafood Bar. Expect to pay around £25-£36 per ticket.
Smart dress is expected within this enclosure, meaning a button up collared shirt and smart trousers/smart jeans (no fading, rips, stonewash, etc.) for men. You cannot wear fancy dress or any sportswear (i.e. no trainers).
The Premier Enclosure
Appreciate the racing from the top section of the famous Centenary Stand, overlooking the finish line in a more elegant and relaxed setting, you’ll truly be able to appreciate the magnificence of this sport. Along with the best view in Haydock, you’ll also gain access to the outstanding Harry’s Bistro, bar and exclusive betting areas. Tickets cost £40-60 per person.
The dress code requires a collared shirt, tie and jacket, smart trousers (no jeans) and smart shoes for men; women are expected to wear their best day wear.
How to Get There
You’ll need to travel to Newton-le-Willows train station from either Manchester or Liverpool. From Manchester there are direct trains from Manchester Piccadilly (25 mins), Oxford Road (20 mins) and Victoria (15-20 mins). If you’re travelling from Liverpool there’s a direct train from Liverpool Lime street (15 mins).
Once you’ve arrived at Newton-le-Willows, there’s a free shuttle bus from the station to Haydock Park, running on the following race days; Swinton Hurdle, Sparkling Saturday, Old Newton Cup, Rose of Lancaster Stakes, Sprint Cup Day and Betfair Chase Day. The shuttle begins two hours before the first race and the busses back commence as the last race finishes. On race days where the shuttle service isn’t available, a taxi will only take 10-15 minutes.
If you’re travelling by car use the postcode: WA12 0HQ.
By Bus (Liverpool Only)
If travelling by bus from Liverpool, you can get the 520 service from the City Centre to Haydock Racecourse, which runs on every Saturday race day, between 1st January and 15th September. The 520 picks up from St John’s Lane in Liverpool city centre (opposite TSO’s restaurant) and East Lancashire Road (opposite the Showcase cinema). The bus departs from Liverpool 90 minutes before the first race, and departs Haydock Racecourse 15 minutes after the end of the last race.
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