All Weather, Flat,
Approx no. of meetings
Getting there: Rail from London to Chelmsford run from Liverpool Street station regularly or the Stansted
Express train to Stansted Airport, again from London Liverpool Street station is also an option.
Railway station to Racecourse - Chelmsford Bus station is less than a two-minute walk from Chelmsford railway station. The No.70 and No. 352 bus runs through Great Leighs.)
The racecourse is approximately a 20-minute drive in a taxi from Chelmsford railway station and Stansted Airport. Closest air connection is at Stansted Airport.
No grandstand (yet), but a single sports bar and 2 restaurant options. In the summer there are a number of hospitality options in tents. Upstairs is the Club which is a more sophisticated experience with a more rigorous dress code. Tote facilities run throughout, and also onsite bookies, but there is limited scope for trackside independents, certainly in the winter months.
We didn’t on this occasion and drove but there a number of small hotels and pubs/B&B within 2/3 miles. Also, Stanstead airport is only 5 miles away which gives additional airport hotel options.
Twenty pounds in advance, and twenty-two on the night. The price varies based on the event and there was an open meeting the next day for just ten pounds a ticket.
Rating: (1) return after challenge complete.
20 January 2018– UK Tracks Visited (40), Irish Tracks Visited (3), Rest of World (2)
It was a dark and stormy night, well no that is a cliché, it was in fact a dark and freezing cold night in January. Thankfully it was dry, but staying outside was only possible for about ten minutes at a time and even the horses were not paraded in the ring for anything more than the minimum time required. There was certainly no crowd checking out the form. In fact, the routine became one of parade ring, back inside to warm up and then out for the short racing before returning for warmth.
Let us begin with the positives; Madam Hoof and I both loved the friendliness and efficiency of Chelmsford City racecourse, although it does not feel in it’s isolated spot to be that close to Chelmsford (closer to Braintree). This is a new track only built in the last few years and it is a bit of a work in progress. However, there are some positives to being new. There is real helpfulness and passion from the staff who are working there. Nothing is too much trouble and they are proud to share details of the track and its history and future. The bar was one of the most efficiently run we have ever seen and it put many other tracks to shame in this respect. Many additional security staff were on duty that night as there was a DJ after the racing, so it was going to get a little more frenetic later, but we have left by then. The Sports bar does in fact have the feeling of an up-market nightclub.
Now, all of this aside, there are some things that make Chelmsford City a little challenger for the race goer. The layout is currently two restaurants and a bar downstairs and a “club” upstairs with a better viewing position. The Club as should be the case has a far stricter dress code. However, all of these locations are inside the track loop and only appear to have viewing on the last 2.5 furlongs of the race. There is very little visibility for the rest of the track, which means you needs to have access to a good monitor to watch the main body of the race, right until the finish. Now, there was a very clear screen across the way from the finish line, but this is still not the ideal way to watch racing when compared to other tracks which feature a main grandstand or two. It also did not help that on the night we visited the grass track was being re-laid and was currently a muddy swamp, which again meant the all-weather track was even further away from the crowd.
Interesting we were given a glimpse of the future by one of the passionate staff who revealed planning permission had just been obtained for a grandstand, hotel and casino to be built, this should certainly improve the view of the race course in general.
A final comment should be made about the signage outside the track. Although out sat-nav found the entrance, this was not way to get into the car park and a few more road signs would probably have helped as we were one of three cars in a row having the same issue. Although we will not revisit before the end of the challenge, I think this will be an interesting course to visit in a few years when the kinks have been ironed out and it starts to develop a history and a character all of its own.