Fakenham is a popular racecourse in Norfolk, hosting National Hunt racing only under rules.
The track, just south of the town of Fakenham, is also the venue for the West Norfolk Hunt’s point-to-point meetings.
Fakenham has a real royal connection and hosts a limited number of well-supported jumps meetings every season.
- Address – The Racecourse, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 7NY.
- Owner – Fakenham Racecourse Ltd.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Fakenham’s track is left-handed and to the untrained eye appears very sharp. This is due to being officially the tightest National Hunt track in Britain, though in that regard not everything is at it first seems.
While the near square-shaped course is indeed very tight and, much like Chester on the Flat suits front-runners in theory, ground conditions can be very testing here so given that races are usually run at a very good clip, it takes those with plenty of stamina to see this out.
Race riders to have won at Fakenham back up the fact that, while being very sharp and tight, you do need to see out all of the trip here and especially when the rain comes.
Look out for those who are highly-rated jumpers. Those taking their time or being cautious at fences won’t fair well here, mostly because the field can get away sharply in between obstacles.
There is a balancing act here though according to jockeys. True, you want a fast and fluent jumper, but if they are too quick and/or are allowed to get away then stamina will catch them out.
A horse with no record of falling or poor jumping, but with the stamina to fully see out the advertised trip, is ideal at Fakenham and won’t steer you far wrong.
Visiting Fakenham Racecourse
Fakenham is situated in a rather beautiful part of the country, so make sure if you’re visiting to leave time to get out and about either side of racing.
Pensthorpe Natural Park is close by and is worth a visit, while the famous Cromer Beach and the rest of the Norfolk coastline is also within reach.
How to Get to Fakenham Racecourse
Fakenham Racecourse is just a mile south of the town along the B1446, known as East Dereham Road.
The track is very close to the A148 which links Cromer on the coast with King’s Lynn and beyond. From Norwich, head north up the A1067 and the track is less than 27 miles away.
On race days at Fakenham, yellow signs are displayed directing drivers to the racecourse and to car parks.
The track is also served by bus routes. The X29 from Norwich to Fakenham and the X8 from King’s Lynn to Fakenham will get you within a mile of the racecourse.
Fakenham unfortunately isn’t served directly by trains, but King’s Lynn station and Norwich station are 20 and 25 miles away respectively.
Where to Stay
Staying within King’s Lynn or Norwich is always a possibility. Also within reach of the track there are rooms advertised in East Rudham, Burnham Market, Wells-next-the-Sea, Great Massingham, Fakenham, Heacham, Hillington, Dereham and others.
Fakenham Racecourse Fixtures
|Tuesday||19th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
Best Races at Fakenham
There are no graded races or huge betting handicaps at Fakenham, but if you want to pick and choose which race days to come to then keep these individual events in mind:
|Race||Type/Grade||Distance||Time of Year|
|Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase||4yo+, Novices’ Handicap Chase, Class 3||3m||October|
|Handicap Chase||4yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 3||3m||October|
|Limited Handicap Chase||4yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 3||2m½f||October|
|Challenger Mares’ Hurdle Series Qualifier||4yo+, Mares, Handicap Hurdle, Class 3||2m||November|
|Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase||4yo+, Novices’ Handicap Chase, Class 3||2m5f||November|
|Challenger Middle Distance Chase Series Qualifier||4yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 3||2m5f||December|
|Novices’ Championship Hurdle Series Qualifier||4yo+, Novices’ Hurdle, Class 3||2m||February|
|Handicap Hurdle||4yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Class 3||2m7½f||February|
|Novices’ Hurdle Qualifier||4-7yo Only, Novices’ Hurdle, Class 3||2m4f||February|
|Challenger Middle Distance Chase Series Qualifier||5yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 3||2m5f||February|
|Challenger Staying Chase Series Qualifier||5yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 3||3m||March|
|Fakenham Silver Cup||4yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Class 3||2m||March|
|David Keith Memorial Veterans’ Chase||10yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 2||3m||Easter Monday|
|Norfolk National||5yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 3||3m5f||May|
|Handicap Chase||5yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 3||2m5f||May (Ladies Day)|
About Fakenham Racecourse
Racing has been taking place at Fakenham for many years now. The first known fixture was on Easter Monday after the West Norfolk Hunt moved their races from Each Winch in 1905 and even now, racing takes place on Easter Monday every year.
After racing did transfer to Fakenham, owing to better underfoot conditions according to lore, 37 runners were attracted which was seen as a triumph given the track’s rural location.
With the inaugural meeting a success, a single Easter Monday meeting was organised at Fakenham every year with only the First and Second World Wars enforcing breaks in the holiday action.
Previously, the action was all about steeplechasing. In 1926 however, a hurdle race was introduced to the card. Back then, three-mile chase races used to start on a field near the adjoining road before finishing up on the actual racecourse.
After breaking for WWII, racing started up again in 1947 and a second meeting was added to the Easter races. By 1953, a grandstand was built and enhancements were made to the paddock, with the parade ring also moved as racing increased greatly in popularity.
With Levy Board support needed to keep racing going, Fakenham Racecourse Ltd was formed to ward off the threat of closure in 1965. The track diversified around this time with land being leased for a golf course and other athletic facilities, while more fixtures were sought for the racing calendar.
Now, 11 fixtures a year are planned at Fakenham. The initial Easter Monday slot remains, though the Whitsun Bank Holiday fixture in May no longer exists.
A royal patronage has always existed for racing in the west part of Norfolk.
The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII and Queen Elizabeth II were patrons at East Winch, and King George V was known to visit. Charles, Prince of Wales, became patron at the turn of the millennium.
In his honour Fakenham named their most bold project, the Members’ Stand which was built at a cost of £1 million, was the named The Prince of Wales Stand.
He opened the structure on March 15, 2002.