Thirsk Racecourse is a popular summer Flat racing venue in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.
Access is easy for racegoers as the main road leading from Ripon to Thirsk goes by the track, which also helps out the many trainers who support the course.
Thirsk is part of the Go Racing Yorkshire Initiative too, along with Beverley, Catterick, Doncaster, Pontefract, Redcar, Ripon, Wetherby and York.
- Address – Thirsk Racecourse, Station Road, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, YO7 1QL.
- Owner – Thirsk Racecourse Ltd.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat.
- Surface – Turf.
Like many Flat venues in Britain, there is a round course and a straight course at Thirsk.
The round course is a left-handed affair, a little longer than a mile and a quarter round with a fairly long home straight stretching for half a mile.
It is flat pretty much the whole way round and the turns, in theory are easy, however it is actually relatively sharp and so speed does play a part here.
There are more undulations on the straight course which caters for all of Thirsk’s five and six-furlong sprint races.
Jockeys to have ridden at Thirsk offer a little more detail. Firstly, many feel that there is an advantage to sticking as close as possible to the stands’ side rail in the sprints, meaning those drawn high are better off.
While appearing flat all the way round to many of us, there are some small ridges and hills on the entrance to the turn from the back straight with some horses becoming unbalanced. While the layout looks very different, it can pay to look for horses who’ve handled the likes of Chester as balance and speed are crucial there.
A big, burly, long-striding horse may just struggle to use its size around here which is another reason we would advocate the publication of a horse’s size and weight, or at least the making of the information available for those searching.
Visiting Thirsk Racecourse
The Premier Enclosure is particularly popular at Thirsk. There are excellent grandstand views from there, directly adjacent to the winning line.
Those wishing to dine at Thirsk when visiting can do so overlooking the line once again in the Thomas Lord Dine & View Restaurant, or the popular Hambleton Dining Room.
Thirsk offers private hospitality too, with private boxes available all season while on Ladies’ Day, the Lawn Marquee is also on offer.
How to Get to Thirsk
Thirsk Station is only half a mile from the racecourse, so taking trains is very simple. Even if you have no direct route, Thirsk is close to York which is a major station on the East Coast Mainline.
Thirsk is also easy to get to by road. From York, simply follow the A19 north straight to Thirsk and follow signs to the racecourse. From the Middlesbrough area, do the same on the A19 south.
From Scarborough and Filey on the coast, head onto the A170 west which again will take you directly to Thirsk and to the racecourse.
If you’re travelling from the north, such as Newcastle, further south or initially from the north-west, simply get onto the A1(M) until you reach junction 50 from the north or 49 from the south, straight to Thirsk.
Where to Stay
Limited rooms are available in Thirsk as well as towns such as Ripon and Northallerton, while York is just 23 miles to the south.
Thirsk’s Biggest Races
Thirsk is all about the atmosphere, competitive racing and scenery. It cannot boast many valuable races, but it remains a great racecourse to visit with these events being the best to watch each year:
|Michael Foster Conditions Stakes||4yo+, Conditions Stakes, Class 3||7f||April|
|Thirsk Hunt Cup||4yo+, Handicap, Class 2||1m||April|
|Handicap||4yo+, Handicap, Class 2||7f||May|
|Summer Cup||3yo+, Handicap, Class 3||1m||July|
|EBF Conditions Stakes||3yo+, Conditions Stakes, Class 3||7f||August|
|Handicap||3yo+, Handicap, Class 2||7f||August|
|Fillies’ Handicap||3yo+, Fillies Only, Handicap, Class 3||1m||September|
|Hambleton Cup||3yo+, Handicap, Class 4||1m4f||September|
About Thirsk Racecourse
While always popular with regular northern racegoers and trainers, Thirsk Racecourse has benefitted in recent years from plenty of investment, including with The Chestnut Room, the latest ‘owners and trainers’ facility.
The Thirsk Hunt Cup has become a big betting race, taking place early in the season, while the Thirsk Summer Cup Day in late July and Ladies’ Day in early September are also major draws.
Thirsk is a wonderful market town in its own right, the racecourse being just one of its visitor attractions. The town in fact is remembered by some as ‘Darrowby’, as it was known in veterinary author James Herriot’s works. In fact, Herriot even found himself on duty as a vet at Thirsk Racecourse in the past.
Despite the investments into modern facilities, which are very much up to scratch, Thirsk is still known as a lovely country racecourse helped in part by the wonderfully maintained paddock.
Thirsk began racing under the auspices of the Bell family on March 15, 1855. A two-day meeting was organised costing a total of £700, including prize money.
Organised racing was a hit at Thirsk and things improved steadily from 1855 onwards. The track however closed during the war years of 1914 to 1923.
A rare moment for Thirsk was when the St Leger was staged there in 1940, named that year the Yorkshire St Leger. The race, moved from Doncaster, was won by a horse ridden by Gordon Richards and owned by the Aga Khan.
In 1967, the new Tattersalls Stand and a family stand were completed, further developing the racecourse into a modern facility. This happened just as other racecourses around the country were forced to close.
Thirsk was brought off the substitutes bench in place of Doncaster again in 1989 when it hosted the November Cup, rain forcing the St Leger meeting’s abandonment. The Classic race itself was run at Ayr.
The Pavilion Stand was built in 1999 which now hosts annual members, also featuring the racecourse office and the Cherry Tree Bar.