One of the unsung heroes of the racing game is Leicester, a dual-purpose venue ideally situated for both National Hunt and Flat trainers alike.
The track sits in Oadby, close to the city centre, with year-round action which includes many a good maiden/novice race and the King Richard III Stakes on the Flat over seven furlongs.
Given its position in the Midlands, Leicester attracts good newcomers and improving novices from trainer in Newmarket and Berkshire, as well as in Yorkshire meaning there is always a chance to see a future star at the track.
- Address – Leicester Racecourse, Oadby, Leicester, LE2 AL.
- Owner – Leicester Racecourse Company Limited.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat and National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Leicester has well-regarded turf tracks for both Flat and National Hunt races, with events taking place all year.
Straight and round courses are used on the Flat. The round track, right-handed, is an oval of around a mile and three quarters in total, so a fair length, with a long enough run-in from the final bend of 4½ furlongs.
The straight course hosts all races from 5 furlongs to 7 furlongs. It is downhill for much of the way from the 7f start to half way, then has a rise for two furlongs or so before finishing level.
While the track is level at the line, that quarter-mile rise means it can really test a horse out, while the wider oval also means you’re looking for horses who can really see out the advertised trip – it’s not all about speed here.
Flat Track Analysis
For us punters and, unfortunately, a fair few jockeys, the track bias on the stands’ side rail is all too often overlooked.
We cannot know when a jock is going to be smart and manoeuvre their horse to the near side of course, but it does mean you can look out for those drawn high in big fields on the straight course at least.
Seen as a galloping track in the main, jockeys too don’t ride for speed here anyway but when it gets soft things get really hard at Leicester and a horse will need major stamina to see it out best.
Should you for example see a 1m2f race on soft ground and your horse has seen out 1m4f on going softer than good, it may be that they hit their peak at Leicester.
Naturally the jumps course is right-handed too. It undulates, with the finish being a slight uphill run for around three furlongs after the final bend.
The chase course is fair enough and well liked among the jumping fraternity, but beware that it rides differently to the hurdle course at most meetings.
Hurdle races are essentially run over on the Flat course, meaning they can be much more testing as the Flat course is watered consistently throughout the summer months.
Jumps Track Analysis
National Hunt riders have reported the fences getting easier at Leicester over the years, but while we report on such things, we never recommend betting on a horse with shaky jumping regardless so you should always be looking for a confident jumper.
Some of the fences, reportedly, can still ride a tad difficult so beware, while jockeys too report the hurdle track to be very testing the winter. You can allow for some speed over two miles on the chase course when handicapping, but go for all stamina over on the hurdles track when assessing runners.
Visiting Leicester Racecourse
Leicester is right in the centre of England and as such, is close to various motorway networks and other major cities. Visiting the race track is particularly easy.
How to Get to Leicester Racecourse
Leicester Racecourse is only four miles from the centre of Leicester using the A594. The track is just a 15-minute drive to the south-east. Birmingham is just a 44-mile, 1¼-hour drive away to the west from the track along the M69.
Leicester’s train station is just a 10-15-minute taxi ride from the course with arrivals and connections available from all over the country.
The nearest airports are East Midlands, 23 miles to the north up the A1, and Birmingham, 37 miles to the west along the M69.
Where to Stay
Being just four miles away from a major city centre, there are no shortage of rooms near Leicester Racecourse. You can stay very close to the track, but staying in Leicester is recommended if you are looking to make a night or a weekend of your trip to the races.
Leicester Racecourse Fixtures
|Thursday||7th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
|Wednesday||13th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
|Thursday||28th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
Major Events at Leicester
Leicester hosts many a good novice race, events that are best watched in terms of figuring out who the future stars are. The best quality races however on paper each year are:
Races and/or major festivals and meetings. Key highlights of each season.
|Mares’ Chase||5yo+, Mares Only, Chase, Listed Race||Jumps||2m||January|
|Golden Miller Chase||4yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 3||Jumps||1m7½f||February|
|King Richard III Stakes||4yo+, Listed Race||Flat||7f||April|
|Prestwold Conditions Stakes||3yo+, Conditions Race, Class 3||Flat||5f||September|
|Kegworth Novice Stakes||2yo Only, Novice Stakes, Class 3||Flat||7f||September|
For such a popular track, it’s rather strange that a single Listed race is given to Leicester so early in the season. This track wouldn’t be out of place hosting a Group 3 race in the middle of summer, perhaps for the juveniles.
About Leicester Racecourse
There have been recorded racing events in Leicester, at Abbey Meadow to be exact, since March 1603.
Back then the highlight was a race known as the Corporation Town Plate, which was discontinued some time around the 1690’s but was reintroduced in 1720.
St Mary’s Field took over hosting races in 1740, with in 1807 the Leicester Gold Cup being introduced at Victoria Park Racecourse, a race worth 100 sovereigns.
We can even trace racing back to the present location, in Oadby, to 1883. That year, on July 24, racing began and Victoria Park became a cricket ground with the racing grandstand being changed to a pavilion.
Racing thrived in the area. In 1921 the great Gordon Richards rode his first winner at Leicester, in 1931 Golden Miller won on the turf for the first time (a maiden hurdle), and many other top jockeys, trainers and horses cut their teeth at the track over the subsequent decades.
Facilities were gradually upgraded and, as mentioned, Leicester may not host many Class 1 races but it does host many a good novice. Top trainers, especially those from Newmarket, are not averse to sending good horses to Leicester to gain experience before going on to Group races later on.