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Brighton Racecourse – All You Need to Know

Published on June 22, 2022
Updated on November 14, 2023
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Brighton Racecourse - All You Need to Know

Where is Brighton Racecourse?

Owner: Arena Racing Company

Address: Freshfield Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 9XZ

Tel: +44 1273 603580


Brighton Racecourse is situated on a part of the Sussex Downs called Whitehawk Hill, approximately two miles east of the city on the A37 (Lewes Road). Trains run hourly from London’s Victoria Station to Brighton, with a special bus service to the course from the station.

Unusually, nestling in a valley on the inside of the course is a municipal housing estate and blocks of flats. The course includes a road crossing (Wilson Avenue) around six furlongs from the finish.

Betting at Brighton Racecourse

Brighton Racecourse offers Tote betting and on-course bookmakers.

Each of the best bookmaking firms will have their own special offers on horse racing bets.

Streaming at Brighton Racecourse

Most leading bookmakers, such as Betfred, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Bet365 have a live streaming to Brighton Racecourse, so you can enjoy watching and betting on the races with best horse racing betting sites in the United Kingdom.

History of Brighton Racecourse

Brighton was once a small fishing village called Brightelmstone. It was under this title that its racecourse opened on 26th August 1783. The seaside town of Brighton – along with its races – subsequently became immensely popular thanks largely to the patronage of the Prince of Wales, later to become King George IV

Way back in time, a farmer owned the land on which the racecourse stood. He allowed racing to take place but only in return for the promise of 27 gallons of wine every year.

Brighton Racecourse moved to its current location in 1822. For most of its existence, it belonged to Brighton Corporation. It is now part of the Arena Racing Company (Arc).

Crowds of 20,000 were once commonplace at Brighton Racecourse. Even Graham Green’s 1938 novel ‘Brighton Rock’, with its fictional account of pickpockets and razor gangs overrunning the course, failed to dent the attendance.

Brighton bears some similarity to Epsom, home of the Derby. In fact, its downhill gradients and sweeping turn into the straight resulted in it staging the Brighton Derby Trial between 1961 and 1967.

Brighton Racecourse can also claim two pieces of racing history. On 3rd August 1966, Nora Wilmot became the first woman to officially train a winner on the Flat, following a Court decision which overruled the Jockey Club’s refusal to grant women a trainer’s licence.

Then, on 20th June 1977, the John Dunlop-trained Hatta provided Sheikh Mohammed with his first ever winner in Britain.

By the 1980s racecourse attendances had begun to drop, partly due to holidaymakers preferring sunnier climes abroad. However, it still boasts a strong local following from loyal enthusiasts who relish its refreshing informality.

The Brighton Racecourse track and ground type

Brighton Racecourse is 400 feet above sea level and overlooks the English Channel. It stages Flat racing only. It’s a left-handed, undulating, horseshoe-shaped track, one-and-a-half miles long, with easy turns.

The first three furlongs are slightly uphill. The ground then descends and rises again until about four furlongs from home, where it falls more steeply until two furlongs from the finish, then rises once more. The last 100 yards are level. The straight run-in measures about 3½ furlongs (700 metres).

It is situated on downland turf. The turf grows on four inches of soil overlaying the chalk, so the drainage is good.

Brighton Racecourse characteristics

Brighton’s left-handed switchback track suits a particular type of horse. The small, compact, handy type is more likely to handle its gradients better than a big, galloping one. Undulating and sharp, the track suits horses that can lie up with the pace.

Bunching on the onside rail can occur due to the camber, especially in races contested by inexperienced horses. Its unique nature means it’s very much a place for course specialists. Operatic Society won seven of his 14 appearances at Brighton Racecourse during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Operatic Society Challenge Cup was run in his honour for many years.

The one-eyed Belper, trained by John Dunlop, was a six-time Brighton Racecourse winner during the 1970s. Shikari’s Son won nine times from 16 starts at Brighton between 1990 and 1996, including the Brighton Sprint (twice) and the Brighton Mile.

More recently, Megalala won eight times from 38 starts between 2009 and 2015. And none was more popular than John Berry’s grey Roy Rocket, all of whose nine career wins came at Brighton from 31 starts there between 2015 and 2020.

But even Roy Rocket was outdone by Pour La Victoire. Trained by Tony Carroll, he won 11 times at Brighton Racecourse between August 2013 and August 2021.

The stands provide a good view of the entire course. Having said that, sometimes the sea fret can come across from the English Channel, shrouding the course in mist and reducing visibility to less than a furlong (200m).

Being located so high up, the ground can often be firm at Brighton. This, coupled with the poor level of prize money, means that small fields are not uncommon.

Effect of the draw at Brighton Racecourse

There is no real draw bias, except perhaps on really soft ground when low numbers are at a slight disadvantage as the runners tend to drift across to the outside (stand side) rail in the straight.

The five-furlong (1000m) start is very close to a turn, meaning horses emerge from the stalls and go helter-skelter, resulting in horses frequently running wide. Hence, low numbers can have an advantage in sprints.

Fixtures for Brighton Racecourse in 2022

Brighton stages 21 days of Flat racing in 2022.

  • Apr: 16, 26, 27
  • May: 17, 27, 31
  • Jun: 7, 14, 21, 28
  • Jul: 5, 13
  • Aug: 3, 4, 5, 21, 22
  • Sep: 5, 12
  • Oct: 4, 13

Brighton Racecourse biggest events and fixtures

Brighton’s three-day August festival is the highlight of the course’s year. It traditionally follows Glorious Goodwood and for many years formed part of the ‘Sussex fortnight’, along with Lewes and Fontwell Park. However, Lewes closed in 1964 and Fontwell no longer stages summer jumping.

The August fixture features the Brighton Mile, the Brighton Challenge Cup and the Brighton Bullet (formerly called the Brighton Sprint). They are all now Class 4 handicaps but were once regarded as important races.

Big name winners at Brighton Racecourse

Because of the course’s hilly nature, Brighton Racecourse rarely attracts top-class horses nowadays. That wasn’t always the case. In 1879 Isonomy won the Brighton Cup before going on to complete the Stayers’ Triple Crown of Ascot Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Doncaster Cup.

The course staged the Brighton Derby Trial between 1961 and 1967. Given Brighton’s similarity to Epsom, it was an ideal venue for such a race and it was contested by some high-class horses. Hethersett won it in 1962 and started favourite for the Derby, only to be brought down at halfway. He later gained compensation by winning the St Leger.

The runner-up in the 1964 Brighton Derby Trial was Canisbay, owned by Her Majesty the Queen. He went on to win the following year’s Eclipse Stakes.

The 1966 Brighton Derby Trial was won by Sodium, who finished fourth in the Derby itself but then won the Irish Derby and the St Leger. Dart Board landed the final running of the Brighton Derby Trial in 1967 before finishing third in both the Derby and in the Irish Derby.

Another top-class horse to run at Brighton was the Duke of Devonshire’s filly Park Top, who won the Brighton Challenge Cup twice, in 1967 and 1968. The following year she won the Coronation Cup, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and the Hardwicke Stakes, and finished second in both the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Champion Stakes.

Cacoethes, originally named My Friend Elvis, made a winning debut in a minor race at Brighton Racecourse before finishing third to Nashwan in the 1989 Derby.

Given the peculiar nature of Brighton Racecourse, look for horses that have shown previous good form at the track.

Course specialism can apply to jockeys and trainers as well as horses. Local trainers tend to do well here due to their familiarity with the course’s unusual terrain. Gary Moore has a good record, while nobody rides the course better than his son Ryan Moore. When Ryan rides one for his farther, it’s always worth noting.

Yorkshire trainer Mark Johnston doesn’t send that many horses all the way down to Brighton but, again, his runners are worth following.

Among the lesser-known jockeys, Darragh Keenan has a good record at Brighton.

  • Leading trainers at Brighton Racecourse in last 3 years
  • Tony Carroll, Gary Moore, Richard Hannon, Eve Johnson Houghton, Mark Johnston
  • Leading jockeys at Brighton Racecourse in last 3 years
  • David Probert, Tom Marquand, Rossa Ryan, Darragh Keenan, Hollie Doyle.
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