Thursday‘s meetings include Bath, Chelmsford City, Musselburgh and Wolverhampton. There are also 7 encounters over fences and hurdles at Sedgefield, where the first race begins at 4:30pm.
Racing At Sedgefield
Sedgefield can be found just to the south of Durham. This course runs left-handed and is purely for National Hunt events. After jumping the final fence, the horses run downhill before climbing again in the last furlong.
The course usually stay shut in June and July. There are around 18 meetings a year that are held at Sedgefield. Like most smaller racecourses, much of the revenue is made from business conferences, outdoor events, parties and fairs.
Very much a historic sporting venue, racing at Sedgefield can be traced back to the early 1700s. Sadly, very little was ever documented, during this period. We do know that a club was formed at the turn of the 19th-century. A man named Ralph Lambton, who was related to the Earls of Durham, was responsible for this. The club was formed at a local inn (the Hardwick Arms).
The Sedgefield course was part of a property known as the Sands Hall Estate. This was owned by the Ord family. Racing here was sporadic until the mid-1800s. At that point, regular meetings were established.
The Two-Day Spring Meeting
Prior to the First World War, a two-day meeting was a regular fixture (in the Spring). Afterwards, the two-day meeting was extended to three days. This allowed for racing on a bank holiday (a time when crowds would always be bigger). The move led to an upturn in the racecourse’s fortunes, due to the increased revenue. Gradually more fixtures were added.
The venue was still badly in need of restoration. Indeed, by the 1970s there were fears that it might have to be closed down. A new chairman, Frank Scotto, came to the rescue. Gone were the old tin huts and proper buildings were constructed for bars and restaurants.
In the early 1990s, a new pavilion was built along with a suite for entertaining and corporate hospitality. Much needed improvements were made to the stables and Sedgefield began to look like a proper racecourse again.
Loose Horses Tragedy
However, despite the long list of recent improvements, the future of Sedgefield Racecourse was again under threat following a horrendous incident in 1999. Three loose horses began running the wrong way around the track. A huge collision could not be avoided and a number of horses were fatally wounded.
Fingers were pointed at the management of the course, who were accused of not taking proper safety precautions. The course survived this, though, and measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of something like this from happening again.
Northern Racing Buy-Out
Northern Racing bought Sedgefield in 2001 and spent well over half a million pounds on further renovation. A better drainage system was put in place and more improvements were made to the various public areas. Sedgefield will never be classed among the top English racing venues, but it is now a decent little racecourse that continues to improve.
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