Brighton Racecourse, one of the southernmost tracks in the country, stages Flat-only meetings right throughout the summer months.
Notable for its views over both the city and the sea, Brighton can be prone to fog rolling over the track which can disrupt those views considerably.
The track’s three-day meeting in August is the seasonal highlight, featuring the Brighton Mile Challenge Trophy.
They race on the downs here above Brighton, with the track known to be tricky and not dissimilar to Epsom Downs.
- Address – Brighton Racecourse, Freshfield Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 9XN.
- Owner – Arena Racing Company.
- TV Station – Sky Sports Racing.
- Type – Flat.
- Surface – Turf.
Brighton is essentially regarded as being a sharp, left-handed track although it is not a simple one to handicap, ride or even describe.
Not a full oval, the track is a U-shape and can only accommodate races up to a mile-and-a-half. In this sense, as well as in terms of topography, it is comparable to Epsom Downs.
Said topography means Brighton tends to suit long-striding horses and those willing to race at or close to the pace throughout. That being said, the uphill finish here makes seeing out races quite tough.
Rather than running away as at other similar tracks, the camber at Brighton leans towards the inner, meaning horses can tend to bunch towards the rail which causes many traffic problems, so some luck in running is needed.
Much like with Epsom, when the rain comes at Brighton runners usually shift away from the far side rail and tack across to the near side to find the better ground.
The Downs’ geology is ‘Middle Chalk’, meaning that unless there’s a downpour the going is nearly always ‘good’.
Brighton Track Analysis
Jockeys need to expect the unexpected at Brighton, with feedback often differing markedly from rider to rider.
The need to foresee right-handed turns, left-handed turns, inclines and downhill runs means that although it may not be a course which hosts top-class racing, it certainly demands plenty of a jockey.
Horses can be caught out at Brighton for sure, as can their jockeys, with the need for balance being absolutely key on what is very much an awkward track.
Visiting Brighton Racecourse
Brighton is a very picturesque racecourse to visit. Situated on Whitehawk Hill, right on the edge of the South Downs, the track is a good 400 feet above sea level.
The views are fantastic. The track is only a mile from the sea, with the unique horseshoe-shaped track being perfectly visible from all public areas of the racecourse.
How to Get to Brighton
Getting to Brighton Racecourse is thankfully very simple. The track is just 1½ miles from the centre of town.
From the east, use the A27. The track is 23 miles from Eastbourne. From the west, Brighton can be reached using the M27/A27. Portsmouth is 52 miles away, Southampton 68. Follow the signs for Brighton and then for the racecourse. From the north, head down the M23/A23.
Brighton’s main railway station is just 1.8 miles away, or around 10 minutes in a taxi.
The station sees direct services from Bedford via London Bridge, Cambridge, Hastings, London Victoria via Gatwick Airport, Seaford, Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton.
Gatwick Airport is 28 miles to the north.
Where to Stay
There are more than enough rooms in and around Brighton and Hove to satisfy demand for racegoers here.
If you prefer to travel in, there are countless towns and villages along the picturesque South Downs with available accommodation also.
Major Events at Brighton
Brighton doesn’t offer the sort of world class racing we see at Newmarket, Ascot, Goodwood and York, but nevertheless it remains incredibly popular with events kept competitive.
The highlight of Brighton’s racing season is the Brighton Festival. This is a three-day event held midweek every August.
The attendance regularly reaches 15,000+ daily during the festival, with the racing highlight being the Brighton Mile Challenge Trophy. The Brighton Mile is a handicap race, worth upwards of £10,000 to the winning connections.
Brighton hosts around 20 meetings each year and while none of them offer the sort of prize money that would tempt in the major owners, trainers and jockeys, the festival does attract some better runners.
About Brighton Racecourse
It is said that horse racing has been around in Brighton since 1713, but the first known public meetings on the current site were organised by the Duke of Cumberland in 1783.
Initially, the main meeting took place either in July or August to coincide with the Whitehawk Fair, and while the fair was shut down in the 1820’s, the timing of Brighton’s best meeting has been maintained.
In those early days, Brighton was indeed a home for top-level racing and was attended by the great and the good of the day.
Its fortunes fluctuated somewhat. In the 1820’s, it fell out of favour with some royalty and so the quality dwindled, however the introduction of the railway in the 1850’s meant it was within easy reach of those from London and so once again flourished.
The Sussex Fortnight in fact involved Brighton hosting excellent racing immediately after Goodwood just along the coast – the meeting we all know as Glorious Goodwood.
Things continued to improve right up until the late 60’s and early 70’s. More than 20,000 regularly attended before the War, while for a six-year period Brighton held a notable Derby trial.
After this period, things began to decline. Many put this down to the fact that Brighton’s own tourist trade took a retrograde step, owing to people going abroad for summer holidays.
Northern Racing essentially bought the racecourse in 1998 and refurbished what had become a rather dilapidated concern, though crowds never really got back to what they once were.
Northern Racing (81%) and Brighton & Hove City Council (19%) continued to own the track, though in 2012 Northern merged into Arena Racing (ARC) who own the course to this day.