Clairwood Racecourse

Clairwood Racecourse  Clairwood Racecourse, known as the “Garden Course”, is set in 77 hectares of reclaimed marshland in the South Durban Basin, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The course originally opened in 1921, but was redeveloped by the Natal Racecourse Development Fund in 1982 and subsequently acquired by Gold Circle in 1999. However, Clairwood Racecourse was bought in 2012 by Capital Property Fund, which subsequently leased it back to Gold Circle for a period of two years.

 

Course Characteristics

The round course at Clairwood is a left-handed, flat, turf oval, just over a mile and a half in circumference, with a home straight of three furlongs. The six furlong straight course, on which horses drawn high have an advantage with cut in the ground, joins the round course at the top of the home straight.

 

Track Facts

In March 2013, the last three races at Clairwood were abandoned after punters protested about favourite, My Sanctuary, being declared a runner in the sixth race despite being hampered by a faulty starting gate.

The most valuable of the year at Clairwood is the Rising Sun Gold Challenge, run over 7 furlongs and 210 yards in June each year. In 2013, Variety Club, trained by Joey Ramsden, followed up his 2012 victory in the race.

In 2014, racing was transferred from Clairwood Racecourse to the newly renovated Greyville Racecourse, also owned by Gold Circle. The existing site was renamed Clairwood Logistics Park.

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Churchill Downs Racecourse

Churchill Downs Racecourse  Churchill Downs Racecourse is set in 147 acres on Central Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky. Churchill Downs staged its first meeting in 1875 and has been the home of the Kentucky Derby, nowadays run over a mile and a quarter on the first Saturday in May each year, ever since. The racecourse underwent an extensive modernisation project between 2002 and 2005 and, today, plays host to 72 days of racing a year during its spring and fall meetings.

 

Course Characteristics

The main track at Churchill Downs is a left-handed, dirt oval, one mile in circumference with 4% banking on the turns and a home straight less than two furlongs long. The Matt Win turf track, named after a former president of Churchill Downs, runs inside the main track and is seven furlongs in circumference with slightly steeper 6% banking on the turns.

 

Track Facts

The original grandstand at Churchill Downs, featuring the iconic Twin Spires, was completed in 1895.

Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships eight times, most recently in 2011.

The Kentucky Derby is known as “The Run for the Roses” or “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports”.

The Kentucky Derby remains the longest continuously held sporting event in the United States.

For the first 21 years of its existence, the Kentucky Derby was run over a mile and a half.

The Mint Julep, an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint and sugar syrup is the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby.

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Chantilly Racecourse

Chantilly Racecourse  Chantilly Racecourse, or in French, Hippodrome de Chantilly, is set in 65 acres in the Oise department of northern France, a little over 30 miles from Paris. The first race meeting at the course, built at the foot of the imposing Great Stables, was held on May 15, 1834, but today Chantilly Racecourse is famous as the home of two of the four French Classics, the Prix du Jockey Club and the Prix Diane. Chantilly Racecourse stages a total of 36 Flat fixtures between March and November

Course Characteristics

Chantilly Racecourse consists of a network of three right-handed, interlaced tracks, the longest of which, the Jockey Club track, is a mile and half, or 2,400 metres, in circumference. The 3-furlong, or 600-metre, home straight rises over 30 feet before the winning post and places the emphasis firmly on stamina.

 

Track Facts

The Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) and the Prix Diane (French Oaks) are both run over 2,100 metres (approximately 1 mile 2½ furlongs) in June.

The most successful jockey in the history of the Prix du Jockey Club is Yves Saint-Martin with nine wins between 1965 and 1987.

The Great Stables, or in French, Grandes Ecuries, were built by Louis-Henri de Bourbon, the seventh Prince de Conde, between 1719 and 1740.

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Caulfield Racecourse

Caulfield Racecourse  Caulfield Racecourse, known locally as “The Heath” after the natural heathland that originally occupied the site, is situated in Caulfield East, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. The racecourse first became recognisable as such in 1876, under the auspices of the Victoria Amateur Turf Club, later the Melbourne Racing Club, and has since become one of the premier courses in the country. The highlight of the season at Caulfield is the three-day Caulfield Cup Carnival, in October, which culminates in the most valuable 2,400-metre (mile and a half) handicap in the world, the Caulfield Cup. The Caulfield Cup Carnival aside, Caulfield stages a further 20 feature racedays throughout the year.

Course Characteristics

The main course proper at Caulfield is a left-handed triangle, 2,080 metres (approximately a mile and a quarter) around with wide, sweeping bends and a home straight 367 metres (under two furlongs) long. The going at Caulfield is usually on the soft side of good and the course tends to favour horses that race on, or close to, the pace when the rail is moved 6 metres or more from the inside.

 

Track Facts

The inaugural running of the Caulfield Cup, in 1879, was won by Newminster at 5/1.

The last winner of the Caulfield Cup to be drawn higher than 13 was Let’s Elope in 1991.

The Caulfield Cup often provides a form guide to the Melbourne Cup. Eleven horses have completed the double and, in 1954, Rising Fast became the only horse in history to win the Caulfield Cup, the Melbourne Cup and the Cox Plate in the same season.

Caulfield racecourse was closed in 1995, and again in 2005, for major reconstruction work.

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Belmont Park Racecourse

Belmont Park Racecourse  Belmont Park Racecourse is set in 430 acres in Elmont, New York. Originally the brainchild of New York financier August Belmont Jr., the racecourse opened in 1905, but has since become synonymous with the Belmont Stakes, run over a mile and a half in June each and the third leg of the Triple Crown. Officially, Belmont Park stages just two meetings a year, but the Spring/Summer meeting lasts for 56 days between April and July and the so-called Fall Championship lasts for 37 days between September and October.

Course Characteristics

Belmont Park actually consists of three left-handed, oval racecourses, arranged concentrically. The outermost dirt racecourse, known locally as “Big Sandy”, has the distinction of being the longest dirt course in North America, at a mile and a half, or 2,400 metres. The Widener turf course, named after an influential family in American racing history, is a little shorter, at a mile and a quarter, or 2,100 metres, and the inner turf course is shorter still at just over nine furlongs, or 1,900 metres. On all three courses, the home straight is less than a quarter of a mile long.

 

Track Facts

The Belmont Stakes is nicknamed the “Test of the Champion”.

Before 1921, the Belmont Stakes was run clockwise, or right-handed.

Secretariat, who won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths in 1973, still holds the record for the widest winning margin and the fastest time (2:24) in history.

The largest one-day attendance at Belmont Park was 120,139 on June 5, 2004.

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