Horse racing in the Peak District isn’t your standard fare. Point-to-pointing and Harness Racing take place away from the public’s gaze. Travel just across the border into Staffordshire, however, and you can indulge in a spot of good old National Hunt racing, just about every racing fan's staple diet.
This is an altogether more well-known venue than Flagg and Pikehall. Uttoxeter racecourse is home to the Midlands Grand National - a prestigious race in itself and noted trial for the world’s biggest race, the Aintree Grand National.
Some classy horses have won Uttoxeter’s signature event. The Thinker obliged in 1986, and the following year he won jump racing's blue-riband prize, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Scottish National winner Willsford – trained by Jenny Pitman – won it in 1990, and twelve months later perennial Aintree favourite Bonanza Boy sluiced in by 20 lengths.
But for sheer romanticism the story of 1997 surely can’t be beaten. Lord Gyllene, owned by Uttoxeter racecourse chairman, the late Sir Stanley Clarke, was beaten into 2nd
place by Seven Towers. Just three weeks later at Aintree, Lord Gyllene - under an inspired Tony Dobbin ride - made all the running to claim a famous pillar-to-post victory in the postponed and re-run ‘Monday National’.
But it’s not all about the arduous slog that is the Midlands National at Uttoxeter. The track hosts 25 meetings every year and welcomes the very best in National Hunt racing. Many of the meetings are themed, with Ladies Nights, family fun-days and much more ensuring there is something for everyone. And with admission free for kids and from just £8 for adults, you should have some dough left over for a punt if you wish.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015