Approx no. of meetings
Rail from London (Approximately 1 hour from London to Northampton)
Railway station to Racecourse (No local station)
Taxis – Two local companies, but shockingly expensive.
Two main stands, the first of which is the Empress where the infamous Bar4000 resides, including an upstairs restaurant and food outlets, alongside tote and TowcesterBet facilities. The second stand, the Grace, appears to be more about corporate hospitality with no obvious public facilities. There are external food and drink outlets but many were closed on this cold day in February.
We stayed in the Saracen’s head in town. A good standard, although possibly let down by the food. The few places to stay are within a stiff walk of the track.
Free entry, a variety of drinks and entertainment packages are available.
(0) Will not return
14 February 2018– UK Tracks Visited (41)
Towcester is something of a conundrum. Racing has existed on this spot since the track was built in 1928, but something odd has happened recently, the course has disappeared behind a new recent addition of a dog track. What was once a magnificent view of the countryside with a magnificent vista of the undulating land, including a small central lake is a now a track where a whole third of the running cannot be seen by the groundlings at the Empress stand. In fact, with up to three meetings a week for Greyhounds since the track was finished in 2014, the focus of this art deco course appears now to be mostly on the dogs, which includes both the greyhound and the puppy derbies.
Please don’t misunderstand, Madam Hoof and I were treated very nicely by friendly locals and the Bar 4000 (named after AP McCoy’s 4000 winner) is an effective place to drinks and bet, although somewhat cramped on a wet day in February. The logo of the bar very cleverly incorporates AP’s initials and the green and yellow colour scheme of the J.P. McManus silks. There are pictures and memorabilia of the event which provides a interesting distraction. However, with only one bar area, the track is a little tight on space if the weather is inclement for the size of the stands.
The track itself appears to be (Please correct me if I am wrong) the only free entry track in the country, so it was with a fair degree of chaos that we turned up to pick up out “package”, race card, free bet, drinks and pie voucher as there was very little in information for the new racegoer. If you are an owner, trainer or have visited before you will be fine, but for newbies, a little more information and signage would be great. Dining packages are also available in the restaurant in the Empress stand alongside corporate events both here and in the Grace stand.
We stayed in town and were surprised that a journey of just over a mile costs 12 pounds in a local cab, you might want to consider alternatives. On a better weather day, it would make a nice walk and there is even a bus from town.
A disappointment on the day was that several horses were pulled during the afternoon from later races, possibly because the ground cut up quite badly and the track was started to take on the characteristics of a ploughed field by the end of the day. This meant the races got smaller and this in turned affected things such as the placepot but also the enjoyment of seeing horse racing.
Madam Hoof and I enjoyed out Valentine’s day, we should make that very clear, but since our goal is to visit all the tracks in the UK and Ireland and learn more about horse racing in general, we will probably give Towcester a miss in future as to coin a phrase, it appears to have gone to the dogs.