The 7 Most Unique Racecourses In Great Britain

Features | 19th May 2022

One of the most wonderful aspects of British racing is how different the courses are.

From the tightest of circuits on the Flat to great sprawling jumping tests, the phrase chalk and cheese doesn’t do the wide variety justice. 

Here’s a look at some of the most unique racecourses and what makes them so special.


The Grand National captures the attention of the world. It is a special race held at a very special racecourse.

Modifications to the fences might have made them a little less fearsome but they are no less unique from the standard steeplechase fences jumped on every other track in the country.

The spruce dressing on the obstacles, like the famous Becher’s Brook, Valentine’s and The Chair, make any race run over the iconic Aintree fences a super spectacle.


High above the bustling centre of Brighton on Whitehawk Hill sits the city’s racecourse. Just a mile from the sea on the edge of the South Downs, it is the most spectacular location and quite unique in many ways.

It is one of the few British courses not to have a complete circuit. Instead, it is an undulating horseshoe‐shaped track with a climb to the finish where the winning post is the highest point of the course.

The runners also gallop across Wilson Avenue, one of the main roads from Brighton Marina. Mats are put down on race days to allow the horses to gallop across the tarmac.

What more could you want for an English summer’s day than the seaside and racing?


Not many racecourses have monks to thank for its existence. Those monks must have known what they were doing as Cartmel is one of the most popular jumps courses in the country.

It is also one of the tightest tracks being second only to Fakenham in that respect. Despite its size its run‐in from the last fence to the winning line is, at half‐a‐mile, the longest of any jumps course.

With woodland on one side and drystone walls circling the rest of the track, it is the personification of a rural racecourse. Unusually, all the stands and viewing areas are on the inside of the track, which is located in the stunning south Lake District countryside.

The prizes given out are also rather unique as every winner receives a sticky toffee pudding from the world‐famous Cartmel Village Shop.


The Derby has thousands of racing fans flocking to the course on the first Saturday in June to see the very best three‐year‐olds battle it out for the greatest Classic.

Any new visitors to the track are often taken aback by the layout. You just don’t get the same emphasis watching on TV. The 1m4f Derby course starts with a lung‐bursting climb before it sweeps left‐handed and begins a rapid descent through the famous Tattenham Corner.

Many horses can’t cope with the turning downhill run and even when they are into the home straight the troubles are not over. The course has a camber that drops away into the far rail.

No one would create a course like it if they were planning a modern‐day track but Epsom’s unique nature makes for the ultimate test for a young Flat racehorse.


The chase course at Fontwell stands alone in that it is both left‐handed and right‐handed. The figure‐of‐eight layout is unique and makes for superb viewing.

Racing fans on the inside of the course are often seen dashing over to the far side to get a second close‐up glance of the runners as they race down the back straight.

The hurdles course is purely left‐handed but it still has a rather unusual feature. To help the horses negotiate the tight bottom turn, the turf was replaced with an all‐weather surface that prevents any problems with waterlogging on the lowest point of the track.


To drive up from the nearby West Sussex villages of Charlton or East Dean, it’s hard to imagine there’s a racecourse waiting at the top of the hill.

Suddenly, the most stunning track appears high on the South Downs. It snakes across the countryside of the Goodwood Estate, also home to a motor racing circuit. A loop at the top of the course leads into a sweeping right‐hand turn before the long, downhill straight stretches down towards Trundle Hill.

The five‐day Glorious Goodwood meeting, featuring the Sussex Stakes and the Stewards Cup, is, perhaps, the most typically British summer racing Festival. To watch the top‐class sport from high in the stands is like feeling on top of the world.

Looking across the parade ring are views of the sea and the beautiful South Downs provide the backdrop to a truly unique course.


No other town is dominated by racehorses than Newmarket.

The tracks are no less unique. For a start there are two of them. The Rowley Mile, where the 2000 Guineas is held, is used early and late season with the action switching to the July Course during the summer months.

Both courses are similar and unusual in that they are basically one long track with a right‐hand dog leg bend a more than a mile out. It makes viewing the races quite unique as the runners can seem like they’re racing in a different county in the longer contests.

In fact, that’s not far from the truth. In the Cesarewitch, run over 2m2f on the Rowley Mile course, the race starts in Cambridgeshire and finishes in Suffolk.