Newcastle Racecourse is a dual-purpose venue hosting both floodlit all-weather Flat racing and turf National Hunt racing throughout the year.
The track sits within the 812-acre High Gosforth Park estate, just five miles from the city centre along the Great North Road and very close to the A1.
Newcastle’s all-weather track means that it is now an incredibly busy course, though the quality has actually risen since the Flat turf course was removed with many future stars performing there.
- Address – Newcastle Racecourse, High Gosforth Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 5HP.
- Owner – Arena Racing Company.
- TV Station – Sky Sports Racing.
- Type – Flat and National Hunt.
- Surface – Tapeta (all-weather, Flat) and Turf (National Hunt).
Newcastle’s turf tracks were always well thought of, though the grass is a thing of the past in terms of Flat racing. The Flat and NH tracks are therefore very different and it pays to know the idiosyncrasies of both.
The Flat track is a left-handed oval, these days made up of Tapeta. The same surface is used at Wolverhampton and now Southwell, though this track is very different to those.
The round track is wide with sweeping turns, around 1¾ miles in length, with a long home straight of around half a mile.
It can be a long way home at Newcastle up the straight, the finish being uphill. Many a race has been lost in the final 100 yards there with regular jockeys knowing to be brave and keep something in reserve.
There is also a straight mile at Newcastle, all floodlit since the all-weather track was installed. Races over 5, 6, 7 and 8 furlongs are staged on the straight track.
Many fields come straight down the middle of the track on the straight course, though the stands side rail is popular but mostly with jockeys who are attempting to keep their horses straight.
The Tapeta surface doesn’t ride particularly quickly. There is no direct equivalent on turf, though good-to-soft would be a fair starting point.
When the sun shines and it gets warm, the going often slows down to ‘standard to slow’ rather than standard. This is because, much like sand, the Tapeta surface loosens up and is harder to get through. The track is quicker when it is wet and compacts, bringing speed into the equation a little more.
Flat Track Analysis
Jockeys say they like to get near the rails at Newcastle, often the near side on the straight track but against the far rail on the round course as the turns are sweeping and you don’t want to lose ground.
The track is always described as fair by jockeys, owing to the excellent surface rather than the topography, as they uphill finish does catch plenty of jockeys out. You will need a horse that is either proven over the trip, or on pedigree should relish it.
The turf jumps track sits on the inner of the all-weather course, to the outer of the golf course. It is essentially a big galloping track, left-handed, with a steady uphill run from the home turn to the line.
National Hunt fixtures are often run steadily due to the stiff nature of the track, though on better ground that often brings in those with decent speed. This is because, when races get going in earnest with just four furlongs to go, a change of pace can decide races here.
There are four fences up the home straight, one on the side of the track after the line, and a further five round the back. There are seven hurdles on each circuit; three round the back, three up the straight and one down the side.
Jumps Track Analysis
Newcastle has always been a popular track with jump jockeys, though fixture schedules mean it is seldom visited by the very best.
Fences are stiff enough, though jockeys say the layout means that it isn’t too hair-raising to ride. While the track remains mostly flat, riders are aware that Newcastle is stiff and so staying ability is truly needed.
Visiting Newcastle Racecourse
Newcastle Racecourse sits within the picturesque Gosforth Park area however it is within reach of many other attractions. The city centre and Quayside are within five miles, though the course is close to the A1 too meaning scenic Northumberland is well within reach.
How to Get to Newcastle Racecourse
From the west of Scotland, head towards Carlisle and then onto the A69 going east. Take the exit for the A1 north, then turn off after a few minutes at junction 79. The brown Newcastle Racecourse signs are evident along the A1.
From the south and north including Edinburgh, follow the A1 until reaching junction 79, follow signs for the racecourse which is just a few minutes from the main road through Gosforth Park.
Buses run regularly right past the racecourse entrance at Gosforth Park from the middle of Newcastle, at Haymarket Bus Station. A free shuttle bus also runs from the Metro stations at Four Lane Ends and Regent Centre in Gosforth.
The closest railway station is Newcastle Central. The station sits on the East Coast Mainline and so is accessible from anywhere. Taxies are available outside, while underneath is the Metro station which links with Regent Centre, where buses are available.
Newcastle Airport is just six miles from the racecourse, along the adjoining A696 onto the A1.
Where to Stay
If you’re visiting the area simply to go to the races, the Great North Hotel is just a five-minute drive from the entrance, while there is also a hotel right next to Gosforth Park. Links however to central Newcastle are so easy that it is better to stay there.
City centre hotels are plentiful, as are those around Jesmond. The better options are on the Quayside. As a ’10-minute city’, you could stay by the river from where it is a short walk to other major spots around town.
Newcastle Racecourse Fixtures
|Friday||8th Dec 2023||Floodlit||Flat / All Weather|
|Saturday||9th Dec 2023||Floodlit||Flat / All Weather|
|Thursday||14th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
|Saturday||16th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Flat / All Weather|
|Saturday||23rd Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
|Thursday||28th Dec 2023||Floodlit||Flat / All Weather|
Major Events at Newcastle
Newcastle’s only permanent top-level race is over jumps, the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, but the Flat line-up just keeps getting better.
Biggest Flat Races at Newcastle:
|Burradon Stakes||3yo Only, Listed Race||1m||March/April*|
|All Weather Mile Championships||4yo+, Conditions Stakes, Class 2||1m||March/April*|
|All Weather Sprint Championships||4yo+, Conditions Stakes, Class 2||6f||March/April*|
|3yo All Weather Championships||3yo Only, Conditions Stakes Class 2||6f||March/April*|
|All Weather Fillies & Mares Championships||4yo+, Fillies & Mares, Conditions Stakes, Class 2||7f||March/April*|
|All Weather Marathon Championships||4yo+, Conditions Stakes, Class 2||2m½f||March/April*|
|‘Easter Classic’ All Weather Middle Distance Championships||4yo+, Conditions Stakes, Class 2||1m2f||March/April*|
|Seaton Delaval Handicap||4yo+, Handicap, Class 2||1m||June|
|Gosforth Park Cup||3yo+, Handicap, Class 2||5f||June|
|Hoppings Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Group 3||1m2f||June|
|Chipchase Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||6f||June|
|Northumberland Vase||3yo+, Handicap, Class 2||2m½f||June|
|Northumberland Plate||3yo+, Handicap, Class 2||2m½f||June|
|Beeswing Handicap||3yo+, Handicap, Class 4||1m||July|
While many people outside the area call the Northumberland Plate the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’, it is not known as that within Newcastle.
Both the All Weather Championships Finals Day, worth over £1 million in prize money, and various Racing League fixtures take place at Newcastle.
A number of other races at Class 2 level take place, especially the ‘Fast Track Qualifiers’ for All Weather Finals Day. Also, the novice races here are worth keeping an eye on.
Since the Tapeta surface was laid, Group 1 winners Enable, Stradivarius and Without Parole, as well as subsequent Derby favourite English King and many others have won their first race at Newcastle.
While the Beeswing Handicap makes this list as a Class 4, this is based on history. The race takes place on Ladies Day which now outsells Plate Day, and used to be a Group 3 run as the Beeswing Stakes.
Biggest Jumps Races at Newcastle, in season order:
|Introductory Juvenile Hurdle||3yo Only, Hurdle, Class 2||2m||November|
|The French Furze Novices’ Hurdle||4yo+, Novices’ Hurdle, Class 2||2m6f||November|
|Rehearsal Chase||4yo+, Handicap Chase, Listed Race||2m7½f||November|
|Fighting Fifth Hurdle||4yo+, Hurdle, Grade 1||2m||November|
|Eider Chase||5yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 2||4m1½f||February|
|Handicap Hurdle||4yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Class 2||2m||February|
|Novices’ Handicap Hurdle||4yo Only, Handicap Hurdle, Class 2||2m6f||March|
The Fighting Fifth Hurdle, Newcastle’s Grade 1 race, is in fact regarded as the most important lead-up race during the season for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
About Newcastle Racecourse
Horse racing has been happening near Newcastle for some 350 years. It began as far as we know around Killingworth in the 17th century, close to where Newcastle Racecourse now stands.
The three-mile King’s Plate was started by George II in 1753, whetting the appetite for big races in the area. The Northumberland Plate has been the big event in the area since 1833 though and still is to this day.
The first Northumberland Plate was held on the Town Moor, straight down the Great North Road from where the track now is, then was transferred to High Gosforth Park in 1881. When new Flat and chase courses were laid out at Gosforth Park, as well as stabling for 100 horses, the race was moved what is now the very track known as Newcastle Racecourse.
Newcastle gained in popularity as the decades went by, the Northumberland Plate, the Blaydon Race for juveniles and the Beeswing Stakes being three of their big Flat races. Over the jumps, the Eider, the Fighting Fifth and the Dipper, which has since been moved, starred.
Despite the popularity of Newcastle’s turf course, described by leading trainer Mark Johnston as “topographically the best track in the country”, plans were revealed in 2013 to scrap the Flat track and replace it with a Tapeta all-weather surface.
The AW track was laid in early 2016 with the first meeting held to good feedback from horsemen in May of that year. Since then, many very good novices have begun their careers at Newcastle.
Newcastle also hosted the Group 1 Vertem Futurity in 2019 when Doncaster was rained off, Kameko winning before going on to land the 2000 Guineas in 2020. That year, Newcastle also stepped in to host many Group races and top handicaps as racing restarted after COVID. In 2022, All Weather Championships Finals Day was moved from Lingfield to Newcastle also.
Newcastle is in pole position to be a major threat to some tracks in terms of attracting top races, however the facilities for racegoers require a major overhaul as of 2022.
The Reuben brothers, part of owners ARC, were also part of the ownership which took over Newcastle United Football Club in 2021. They made reference to the fact that if that takeover happened, the racecourse may also be modernised.
There is hope for this, as the brothers’ main interest outside of London is based heavily in Newcastle. A Group 1 race on the all-weather is surely a matter of time, with Newcastle the most likely location for it.