The rise of Warwick Racecourse

  • Warwick racecourse

With more attendees flocking to Warwick Racecourse than ever, the sixth oldest racecourse in the world is coming on leaps and bounds. Warwick’s General Manager Andre Klein helps explain the racecourse’s recent successes

Warwick Racecourse sits on the threshold of the town and country. It’s a three minute stroll from the impressive-looking new turnstile building to the ancient town centre but the view from the grandstand provides a wonderful vista of the North Cotswolds.

It’s always been pleasant location for a day at the races, but it is fair to say that it has been rather unheralded in some quarters for a number of years. However, a massive rise in race day attendances over the last few seasons hints strongly that the secret is out - and Warwick Racecourse is well and truly a track to get back to.

At the course’s recent May Bank Holiday meeting, the first day of its 4-day racing carnival, it attracted its largest race day attendance since 1997, just shy of 7,000 people. Its celebrated New Year’s Eve meeting has enjoyed huge growth too, more than doubling in size in the space of three years to push the venue close to its capacity. Last season at Warwick crowds grew faster than at any other track in the land, rising an impressive 36%. In fact, it seems that every few months the course makes some sort of statement indicating it is going from strength to strength. 

Andre Klein took over as General Manager of Warwick Racecourse in November 2015, after returning to his Warwickshire roots after nearly two decades of working in horse racing in Australia and New Zealand.

“I think I landed the role at a particularly interesting time,” Klein says. “The track’s image had endured a bit of a battering. There was high profile dispute with the local community over the siting of a potential hotel and the decision to discontinue flat racing had just been made, due to the racing surface being deemed unsafe. I arrived at a tricky chapter in the course’s long history.”

And Warwick Racecourse has a very long and colourful history. Not a lot of people realise it is the sixth oldest racecourse in the world; racing commenced on St Mary’s Land - the public common on which the track is located - over 300 years ago, in 1707.

Interestingly it was the first racecourse to officially programme a hurdle race, way back in 1831. It’s fitting, therefore, that it is in the jump racing sphere that it is re-making its reputation.

“The flat racing was never a strength at Warwick but the jump racing has always been good quality. I put our recent growth down to a number of things. Firstly, we have worked hard to build bridges with the local community and re-instate the relevance of the racecourse by being much more involved in Warwick life.

“Secondly, we have really worked hard to develop race day events that deliver a truly enjoyable occasion. We are building a reputation as one of England’s friendliest and most welcoming courses. And finally, the racing itself has to be a key component of all that we do, and by focusing on jump racing only, we have been able to establish ourselves as a serious racetrack with the best horses, jockeys and trainers competing in our races. The form-lines from Warwick have become really strong,” Klein explains.

If you haven’t been to Warwick Racecourse before, or if it’s been a while since you ventured there, it’s certainly worth galloping along to.

Dates for your Diary

The 2018/19 season commences Tuesday 25th September. There are 18 fixtures to be enjoyed. The best races are to be witnessed on Classic Chase Day on 12th January and Kingmaker Chase Day on 9th February. The biggest party is New Year’s Eve. The best family occasion is the first May Bank Holiday and the best day to get dressed up is Ladies Night on Saturday 11th May 2019.

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www.warwick.thejockeyclub.co.uk