Kent has struggled for racing action since the 1970’s. There is plenty of action near to Kent however, with some of the top racecourses in the country within easy reach.
We’re looking at the courses near to the county, how racing has evolved in the area and the lost tracks of Kent from down the years.
How Many Courses Are There Near Kent?
There are sadly no longer any racecourses in Kent at all, since Folkestone closed in 2012, initially temporarily but it ended up being for good.
However, across into East Sussex and Surrey there are six good ones to enjoy without too much of a journey.
Between them, these tracks offer a good mix of jumping and Flat action, and we have more details on these tracks below.
Racecourses Near Kent
With no racecourses left in the county, punters are forced to travel.
Those in the east of Kent will have to take in quite a journey, but those further west are close to some top tracks in Surrey and East Sussex, namely:
Around 65 miles from Maidstone is Brighton Racecourse in East Sussex. Brighton hosts Flat racing throughout the warmer months, though the quality of racing isn’t the best.
Only 40 miles or so separate Maidstone from Epsom Downs, home of the Derby, the Oaks and the Coronation Cup. The Classic meeting takes place on the first Saturday of June.
It’s around 65 miles from the middle of Kent across to Sunbury, the home of Kempton Park. Here you can watch tons of all-weather Flat racing year-round, as well as one of the biggest jumps meetings of the year on Boxing Day which features the King George VI Chase.
It’s less than 40 miles from Maidstone to Lingfield Park. Some valuable jumps meetings take place in the winter, all-weather racing is year-round and two of the top Derby and Oaks trials are run here in May.
40 miles south-west of Maidstone in East Sussex is Plumpton Racecourse. This is one for jumps fans, with Plumpton hosting a number of meetings each year.
Less than 50 miles from the middle of Kent is Sandown Park. This is one of the most important racecourses in the country. There are Grade 1 races such as the Tingle Creek during the jumps season, while on the Flat the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes in early July is one of the most important races of the season.
How Has Racing Changed Over the Years in Kent?
During the 18th and 19th century Kent was a very busy county for horse racing, though not always as we know it.
At Tunbridge Wells, the local Common hosted race meetings at the end of August for huge crowds. Rochester and Chatham Racecourse put on two days of racing the following month while a one-day meeting took place at a similar time at Ashford.
Canterbury had a race in the 1800’s too. Racing on Barnham Downs, the track was a popular one but ultimately closed down while Lenham Racecourse staged racing for a short period between 1848 and 1860.
After this period, the majority of racing in Kent was held at Wye and Folkestone. Wye opened its doors in 1849, with Folkestone opening in 1898. Both racecourses went from strength to strength and were popular stop-offs on the circuit for a long time.
Ultimately, Wye was to close its doors in 1974 and never saw what we know as modern racing. It carried on however at Folkestone which hosted both Flat and jumps racing. The track was taken over by Arena Leisure (now ARC) but was underfunded and under supporting, leading to difficulty.
By 2012, Folkestone had closed “temporarily” and with no solutions found, it closed for good in 2016 with no more racing having taken place. That move has since left the county with no racecourses staging racing under rules.
Famous Courses in Kent to Have Closed Down
As mentioned above, there was plenty of racing within Kent over the years.
Most of will remember only Folkestone flying the flag, but now even that track has gone, leaving Kent with no racecourses racing under rules for now.
|Folkestone Racecourse||2012||After racing since 1898, a temporary closure was announced in 2012. The owners ultimately decided that in 2016, time was up for Folkestone and the course permanently closed.|
|Wye Racecourse||1974||Racing took place at Wye from 1849 onwards, the course eventually closing in the 1970’s.|
|Canterbury Racecourse||1879||Racing took place on Barnham Downs, the track closing some time in the 1800’s.|
|Lenham Racecourse||1860||Racing took place from 1848 to 1860.|
|Tunbridge Wells Racecourse||1851||The Common was used for meetings at the end of August.|
|Lee Racecourse||1847||Races with a very local feel were staged in the 1800’s.|
|Rochester and Chatham Racecourse||1846||Two-day meetings were held in September.|
|Ashford Racecourse||1840||One-day meetings formerly took place in September.|