Night Racing

Night racing is a common feature at most racecourses in modern times and the evening fixtures offer a whole different perspective to the traditional afternoon races which have so dominated the sport over its history. Evening races attract a different crowd; those wishing to combine the thrill and excitement of horseracing with a more social experience.

Night Racing, inside rail Heading out of an evening has always been a social practice and it was only a matter of time before the age-old sport of horseracing provided the perfect environment in which to spend some quality evening leisure time with friends, family and colleagues.

Horseracing has been around for as long as we have ridden horses and there are well known early examples from Roman times and Norse mythology. The first recorded horse race in Britain was held in London in 1174 but it wasn't until Henry VIII imported mares and stallions for breeding in the early 1500s that modern thoroughbred horseracing was born. In the Early 1600s the first British racecourse was established at Newmarket, where today it remains the home of British horseracing.

Charles I was instrumental in establishing horseracing at Newmarket, introducing spring and autumn meetings and the first Gold Cup event in 1634. Horseracing is often termed the 'Sport of Kings' due to the continued royal patronage of race meetings, further shown by Queen Anne, who in the early 18th century founded Royal Ascot, home of the Queen Anne stakes ever since. The Jockey Club was formed during this period and then as now governs the rules for racing in the UK.

With horseracing then established the world over, it would be some time before the next big change in the sport. Largely driven by technological constraints, horseracing took place during the afternoons in the seasons when the weather made it possible. Improved methods of ground keeping and drainage allowed for all year round racing and the establishment of the two main forms we know today of flat racing held from spring to autumn and National Hunt racing, where horses must negotiate fences and other obstacles, held during the winter months when the softer ground makes it less physically demanding on the horse.

It was not until 1947 that the next big change in horseracing was established when humble racecourse Hamilton Park, near Glasgow, introduced the first night racing event in July 18th of that year.
Night Racing, winner

Hamilton Park also has the notable distinction of introducing morning fixtures too, the first of which was held there in 1971. From then on horseracing was not constrained by time or season and night racing in particular has gone from strength to strength. Evening fixtures have been popular and well attended at Hamilton Park and most other racecourse in the country ever since with Wolverhampton Racecourse hosting the most, with almost 100 evening fixtures held there every year.

A key part of what has made evening fixtures so popular has been the hospitality afforded by racecourses. As may be expected from the 'sport of kings' there has always been an association with the finer aspects of life, from dining to entertaining guests and VIPs.

Night Racing, photo finish Most racecourses today offer different environments for racegoers, often incorporating a premier enclosure, in which the elegance and sophistication so inherent in the culture and traditions of the sport can be celebrated.

Premier enclosures often have the best views over the course and finishing line and have superb fine-dining environments or private suites and boxes in which to host corporate events and private celebrations during the racing. While evening fixtures are certainly well contested and offer high quality racing, they are not generally the main racing highlights of the season and so entrance costs are reduced, allowing a wider cross section of the racegoing public to access the premier areas of the course and indulge in some of the first class hospitality at one time reserved for a select few.

For most people who attend day or night racing fixtures, the main environment will be what is commonly known as the Grandstand and Paddock, an enclosure which will generally offer a variety of viewing positions, often with seated and standing options. There will be a good selection of restaurants or other eateries, some bars and betting outlets. A more informal environment, the Grandstand is where fun and racing go hand in hand and represents the perfect environment for most people to enjoy a good day or evening out.

Evening fixtures will largely differ from afternoon races in terms of the associated entertainment provided. Often themed events for occasions such as Christmas or Halloween or summer night events incorporating a Ladies night or other such attractions, the events will combine the fun aspect of the races, with easy betting options provided by Tote-based systems, and live entertainment to follow the races. This can take the form of a live band or some other party-oriented acts.

Many people who attend evening fixtures may be new to horseracing or simply going as part of a group night out. Hospitality packages are available which include all the necessary components to ensure everyone has a good time. This will generally include admission, a drink, often something to eat, a racecard with all the information on the runners and races of the night, and a Tote betting voucher to get involved in the races themselves. Night racing is a great way to get an introduction to horseracing and have a great night out in the process.

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