The History of Chester Racecourse - Oldest Track in the UK

By: Kevin Phillips

Chester Racecourse, also known as the Roodee, is according to official records the oldest racecourse that is still in use in England. Chester Racecourse is now ranked as the 4th best attended in the whole of Britain, averaging 18,000 visitors per day at its race meetings. It was Chester Racecourse that showed how to do well with Sunday racing and tens of thousands now goto the Roodee for the yearly family fun day in August. The July meeting at Chester Racecourse, held over two days, is one of the most popular racing events of the summer. It is interesting to note that Chester racecourse is built over the silted up old port of Deva.

The City of Chester

Chester celebrates its folk heritage with concerts, dancing, workshops, displays, crafts and children's events, featuring many local and national folk performers. Chester also boasts a fine cathedral founded in the 10th century. The story of Chester Cathedral can be traced back to the time of the Saxon Minster, which in 907 housed the remnants of St Werburgh. Chester Castle, set in the angle of the city walls boasts the finest Norman architecture in the city. The Normans built a castle at Chester not long after William the Conqueror took control of England.

Circled by a two mile ring of medieval and Roman walls, Chester is fashioned by 2,000 years of history. In Roman times Chester was known as Castra Deva (pronounced Dewa), meaning "the military camp on the River Dee" (places in England whose names contain the letters "chester", or which end in -caster or -cester, were locations for Roman military camps). The remnants of a Roman amphitheatre were excavated in the 1960s and can be viewed opposite the Chester Visitor Centre (on Vicar's Lane).

Racing at the Roodee

Racing at Chester's historic Roodee course dates back to the early 16th century, making it the country's oldest racecourse. There has been racing at the Roodee at Chester for over 450 years and the buzz of watching a race at Chester unfolding before your eyes from the chic surroundings of the courseís enclosures or the vantage point of the City walls is an unforgettable occurrence. Tudor Queens and Kings ruled England when horseracing started on The Roodee.

There are a few more thrilling sights in British Racing than the horses thundering into the final furlong at Chester, a near oval course that makes exceptional demands on the capabilities of jockeys and their mounts with races run continually on the turn. For many it is the perfect weekend to merge horse racing with the delights of shopping and eating out in Chester City.

The Dee Festival celebrates the prominent position of both Chester and Bangor-on-Dee Racecourses on the banks of the River Dee, allowing racegoers to experience the buzz of racing with all the appeal. The July meeting at Chester Racecourse, held over two days, is one of the most popular racing events of the summer.

Chester racecourse is the oldest in Europe and regular race meetings are held throughout the year. With spectacular views over the course and the River Dee, Chester Racecourse is found within the historic and beautiful City of Chester, one of Britainís great heritage cities.

The Dee Stakes is a Group 3 flat horse race in the UK for 3-year-old thoroughbred colts and geldings run over a distance of 1 mile 2 furlongs and 75 yards (2,080 metres) at Chester Racecourse in May. The race is so named because Chester Racecourse is situated on the banks of the River Dee.

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