The Best Racecourses in Berkshire

The Royal County of Berkshire is steeped in horse racing tradition. If you enjoy a day at the races and you’re planning a visit, you’re in for a thrilling day of equine entertainment. 

Berkshire has three world-famous racecourses on its doorstep and is host to the most prestigious meeting of all – Royal Ascot. Its inextricable link to racing is one of the main reasons why many iconic trainers and jockeys have made Berkshire their home. 

So, whether you prefer the thrill of summer flat racing or the lure of winter jumps, Berkshire’s action-packed racecourses cater for every racegoer’s needs all year round. This blog will delve deep into Berkshire’s rich horse racing history and what’s currently going on at its top racecourses. 

The Top 3 Racecourses in Berkshire 

Berkshire’s finest racecourses stretch from east to west across the Royal County. Wherever your location, you’ll find a nod to horse racing virtually everywhere you look. 

From Ascot and Windsor in the east to Newbury in the west, Berkshire’s racecourses are renowned for their historic tradition and high-class meetings that attract racegoers from all corners of the globe. 

Horse racing is woven into the sporting and social fabric of Berkshire too. Large numbers of elite trainers such as Nicky Henderson and world-class jockeys like AP McCoy are based in Lambourn in West Berkshire, employing thousands of workers at their stud farms and yards.  

Horse racing provides cultural and employment opportunities to Berkshire and delivers a significant financial boost to the local economy by attracting thousands of racegoers every year. Below is our list of the top racecourses in Berkshire: 

1. Ascot Racecourse 

Ascot is home to the king of flat racing – Royal Ascot. Held every June, the five-day festival is the pinnacle of the flat season and the highlight of the British summer social calendar where fashion, pomp, and ceremony meet world-class racing. 

In true Royal Ascot tradition, visitors dress up in morning suits and top hats, or fancy frocks with elaborate headdresses to watch the best thoroughbreds compete in Britain’s most valuable race meeting. 

Royal Ascot has become a national institution and its origin can be traced back to 1711. Whilst riding through nearby Windsor Forest, Queen Anne had a lightbulb moment to create a venue that satisfied her passion for horse racing. The first meeting was held on August 11 that year, and Ascot quickly became established as one of the main events of the Royal court calendar. 

A historical racing landmark followed in 1749 with the first Tuesday-to-Friday fixture. Then, in 1825, George IV formed the first formal Royal Procession, a tradition of pomp and grandeur that perfectly illustrates the strong connection between royalty and Ascot racecourse. 

More than 300 years later, Ascot has become firmly established, attracting more than 600,000 spectators every year. Its strong association with Royalty and top-quality racing throughout the summer and winter months is still thriving. 

Racing takes place at Ascot all-year round, with 18 flat meetings between April and October, plus eight jumps meetings between October and March. There are 26 days of racing in total which include 13 of Britain’s 36 annual Group 1 flat races as well as three Grade 1 jumps races. Grade 1 is racing’s highest competing category attracting the world’s best horses chasing the biggest prizemoney. 

Aside from Royal Ascot week, the venue stages several other prestigious races including the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes every July. The venue also prides itself on its award-winning hospitality with fine dining experiences, making every visit memorable for the whole family. 

The bustling town of Ascot provides an entertaining backdrop to the racecourse with its numerous restaurants, shops, bars, and live music venues. The town also boasts a railway station, for easy access during race days. 

Nearest Berkshire Rooms locations: Bracknell, Windsor, Wokingham

2. Royal Windsor Racecourse 

Is there a more relaxed way of arriving at a race meeting than by riverboat? It’s certainly more refined than catching the bus or driving yourself. 

As the only racecourse located on an island, Windsor can be reached by catching the boat from the town centre and gliding serenely along the River Thames whilst you enjoy a drink before hopping off at the racecourse’s private jetty to take in the action. 

Windsor typically stages 26 racing fixtures between April and October, with highlights being The Royal Windsor Stakes in May and The Winter Hill Stakes in August. The July Racing Weekend featuring Gentleman’s Day and a Family Fun Day with free entry for children are also big attractions. 

Windsor’s popular themed Monday Night Racing also run throughout the summer and combines gripping racing with a variety of music and entertainment, creating a unique and vibrant atmosphere. Some of the biggest names in music including Tom Jones and The Kaiser Chiefs have wowed Windsor crowds in the past. 

Those hosting large social events and celebrations can also take advantage of the first-class hospitality on offer at Windsor. With extensive lawns and licensed standing areas, it is a perfect party location and can comfortably cater for festivals and concerts. When racing fixtures end in October, plenty of other events take place at Royal Windsor Racecourse including spectacular firework displays and winter wonderland experiences for the whole family to enjoy. 

Windsor has staged racing events since 1866 and has become a firm fixture on the racing and social calendar. As well being the only island racecourse, Royal Windsor is one of only two figure-of-eight courses in the United Kingdom, the other being Fontwell Park. 

The pretty market town of Windsor has been an official seat of the Royal family for more than a thousand years, hence the reason why the racecourse includes ‘Royal’ in the title. It is also situated in the shadow of Windsor Castle, the official residence of His Majesty King Charles, and many monarchs before him. 

Travelling to Windsor couldn’t be easier with its railways station and extensive public transport and road links. And when you arrive, there’s only one way you’ll want to complete your journey to the racecourse – by riverboat, of course. 

Nearest Berkshire Rooms locations: Windsor, Maidenhead, Slough

3. Newbury Racecourse 

Situated in rural West Berkshire, Newbury Racecourse is another horse racing and entertainment gem. Whether you’re seeking top-class racing, live music concerts, or excellent hospitality, Newbury has it all. 

The first meeting in Newbury took place in 1805 with a two-day “Newbury Races” festival. The venue’s location changed several times and racing eventually ceased for 90 years. Then, in 1905, racing returned to Newbury at its current site and has grown in popularity ever since. 

These days, Newbury boasts a packed fixture card with a mixture of 29 flat and national hunt race meetings spread over the year, as well as a host of other music events and festivals. It often attracts local racing talent from the nearby Lambourn Training Grounds, as well as horses from Ireland and much further afield. 

Some of the highlights of Newbury’s racing calendar include the prestigious Betfair Hurdle in February and the Group1 Lockinge Stakes in May. It’s most famous race takes place in November with the Hennessy Gold Cup, which is now known as the Coral Gold Cup. It is one of the most valuable and anticipated handicap chases of the national hunt season, drawing in thousands of racegoers every year. 

In addition to high-quality meetings and race day hospitality, Newbury also stages numerous music concerts, festivals, and social events. From Welsh crooner Tom Jones to pop stars Olly Murs and Craig David, there’s something to suit every musical taste. Similarly, punters can also relax on a summer’s evening and experience a gin tasting session, cocktail clubs, and other social events. 

Newbury takes full advantage of its position as an independently-run venue. It is a perfect location for corporate events and meetings, and there is even an on-site nursery providing daycare for children. 

So, if you’re looking for premier horse racing in a stunning rural setting, superb hospitality, or just some fun and musical entertainment, give Newbury a try. 

Getting to Newbury is easy by car or public transport, and the racecourse even has its own dedicated railway station which is a short journey from Reading. 

Nearest Berkshire Rooms locations: Reading.

Looking to Combine Your Stay with a Visit to Berkshire’s Racecourses? 

From family homes to studio apartments, Berkshire Rooms has a variety of serviced accommodation closely situated to the county’s premier horse racing venues. Get in touch today and find out more.