Racing At Bath
You will find Bath Racecourse on Lansdown Hill, which is just to the north of the city and in the county of Somerset. Arena Racing Company is responsible for running the racecourse.
The track at Bath is is left-handed and in the shape of an oval. The course distance is one and a half miles. Bath is known for the extremely long finishing-straight which is almost half a mile in length.
Why Bath Is A Top Venue
Many people are not aware of this, but Bath Racecourse is the highest-altitude flat racing course in Great Britain. Only Exeter and Hexham are at a higher altitude and both are National Hunt courses.
Racing at Bath goes all of the way back to the early-1700s. As with many British racecourses, activity was curtailed during the Second World War. Bath was actually used as an airbase/landing field by the Royal Air Force, During wartime, it was known as RAF North Stoke.
The very first races were run at Claverton Down, although only on a sporadic basis. Events started to be held more frequently in the later part of the Eighteenth Century. At that time, a powerful local family (the Blathwayts) owned the land that was raced on. This property was called Dyrham Park.
Yearly steeplechase races were also held around Bath. However, the Nineteenth-Century saw just one meeting a year held at Bath, for the most part. A two-day festival, that took place before the Epsom Derby, was a regular fixture on the calendar. For a considerable period, many Derby-entrants would race in the Somersetshire Stakes at Bath – This was the biggest race held at the course.
Sale Of The Course
Following the First World War, Bath Racecourse was sold to a syndicate that also were the proprietors of Newbury Racecourse. This led to an immediate increase in the number of meetings to be held at Bath.
The Francasal Case
In the mid-1950s, Bath was hit by a scandal that is still talked about to this day. In what is remembered as the Francasal case, a ringer was entered into a race (a much better horse than the named entry). In a plot fit for a movie, the communication-wire was cut to the course. This meant that on-course bookmakers did not get wind of what was happening around the country (many large bets were placed on the ringer). Lucky punters got odds of 10/1, on a horse that should have been odds-on!
Many young horses are often entered into races at Bath to gain experience. The course provides them with a fairly gentle uphill finish and this helps horses gain confidence, before they are entered into much bigger and more testing races.
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