Also known as Royal Windsor, an extremely busy and popular Flat racing venue in the south of England is Windsor Racecourse.
Located close to Windsor Castle in Berkshire, the track is one of two actual figure-of-eight race tracks in Britain, with the other being Fontwell.
Windsor gets its Flat season going in the spring and is busy throughout then and the summer months, most of its popular meetings taking place on Monday evenings.
- Address – Royal Windsor Racecourse, Maidenhead Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 5JJ.
- Owner – Arena Racing Company.
- TV Station – Sky Sports Racing.
- Type – Flat.
- Surface – Turf.
Windsor’s track is a figure of eight, being 12½ furlongs in length. Because of this, it’s hard for some punters to keep track of which we horses will be running.
Events over a mile and a half task horses to go both right and left-handed. Races over a lesser distance mean only right-handed turns are taken which is simple enough in all honesty.
The track remains absolutely flat all the way round, but it is sharp in nature so speed plays a big part here. That being said, the straight is around five furlongs which is longer than the majority in the country so those needing time to get sorted, such as long-striding types, are not always at a disadvantage.
In the five and six-furlong sprints, those draw high are considered better off. When the ground gets soft however, they tend to head over to the far side rail negating that, which can also happen in longer races too.
Jockeys riding Windsor regularly, and there are many, point at the bottom corner as the problematic part of the track. Some trouble occurs there meaning there are unfortunately some hard luck stories here.
What some jocks tend to do then, assuming they are on the right horse, is kick on at that point to stay out of trouble. The effect that has is for that horse to either steal a march and win, or when there is no trouble for one from the back to wear them down late after unnecessary energy has been expended.
A well-balanced horse is ideal, but while it can be thought of as sharp this track does suit hold-up horses too so don’t worry about that.
Visiting Windsor Racecourse
You can choose from either the Jubilee Club Enclosure or the Grandstand Enclosure.
While both have their benefits, the Jubilee Club Enclosure is the better one. It’s always advised to get the best ticket possible, giving yourself access to all public areas, allowing you to get close to the horses and to have a better choice of entertainment, bars and food outlets.
How to Get to Royal Windsor
Windsor Racecourse is just one mile from the centre of Windsor and three miles from Slough.
By road, use the M4 or M3 out of the London area, the M25 from the south, the M4 from the west and the M40 from the north to get to junction 6 of the M4 which is the area you need. Turn there in the direction of Windsor and the racecourse is signposted and easy to find.
Just a 20-minute drive away is Windsor & Eton Riverside station. Train services there come from Farnham, Staines, Ashford and Egham.
Uniquely, you can arrive at Royal Windsor by boat. Boats leave Windsor Promenade and arrive at the racecourse, typically running two hours before the first race and up to the start time of the second race. Return trips begin from the start time of the penultimate race and finish around 40 minutes after the last.
Windsor is very well situated for air travel too, being only a 20-minute drive from Heathrow Airport.
Where to Stay
Given its position in the country, there are no shortage of hotel options for Windsor.
Windsor itself, as well as other Berkshire towns such as Slough, Maidenhead and, for the foodies, Bray, have rooms available.
Windsor is also close enough to London of course to make the capital a very real option in order for visitors to take in more than just the racing.
Windsor’s Biggest Races
Windsor hosts a number of popular handicaps and maiden races, particular on its popular Monday meetings. Once the Flat season is in full swing, a weekly Monday night fixture takes place.
The best contests on the regular Windsor yearly schedule however are:
|Royal Windsor Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||1m||May|
|Leisure Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||6f||May|
|Midsummer Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||1m||July|
|August Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||1m3½f||August|
|Winter Hill Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||1m2f||August|
About Windsor Racecourse
Windsor Great Park was closed off as a royal hunting ground some 700 years ago. Here and at similar places, the nobility used to match-race their horses and no doubt that happened right here.
What we do know is that during the time of Henry VIII, races certainly took place at Datchet Mead which is just a few short miles away from the current racecourse site.
Skip forward to the 20th century and horse racing as we know it now was in full swing.
In 1923, the country saw an incredibly rare event of a triple dead heat. This happened at Windsor, though without the photographic technology we have now, they simply couldn’t separate three horses involved in a close finish. A local photographer however did snap the finish and indeed, it seemed all three horses passed the line at once.
We always seem to find ourselves writing about how racecourse closed during WWI and WWII, some being used by the RAF, but Windsor is a rarity in that it kept going during both wars.
Windsor’s Monday evening meetings go back further than many think also. They were started back in the 1960’s and continue to this day.
Despite being enjoyed by certain royals who stayed in the area frequently, National Hunt racing ceased at Windsor in 1998. The idea was that Flat racing brought in more money and the grounds team needed to keep the turf fresher, so cut out the jumps.
These days those Monday meetings are as popular as ever, a couple of the track’s higher-profile races even being run at the beginning of the week and usually to fairly impressive crowds.