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Wolverhampton Racecourse – All You Need to Know

Published on June 22, 2022
Updated on November 14, 2023
Chloe
Written by Chloe

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Wolverhampton Racecourse - All You Need to Know

Where is Wolverhampton Racecourse?

Owner: Arena Racing Company

AddressGorsebrook Road, Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton, WV6 0PE

Tel: +44 1902 390000

Website: wolverhampton-racecourse.co.uk

Wolverhampton Racecourse, also known as Dunstall Park, is located one mile north of the town centre and is unusual in that it is approached through a housing estate. It also has an on-site Holiday Inn Hotel.

Betting at Wolverhampton Racecourse

Wolverhampton Racecourse offers Tote betting and on-course bookmakers.

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

Streaming at Wolverhampton Racecourse

Most leading bookmakers, such as Betfred, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Bet365 have a live streaming to Wolverhampton Racecourse, so you can enjoy watching and betting on the races with many firms.

History of Wolverhampton Racecourse

Horse racing in Wolverhampton dates back to 1825. Its first racecourse was at Broad Meadow, on land leased from the Duke of Cleveland. The races ended in 1878 when the Duke sold the land to Wolverhampton Corporation for use as a public park.

Following a ten-year gap, Wolverhampton’s Dunstall Park Racecourse opened in 1888. It held races both on the Flat and over jumps.

Some of the top chasers and hurdlers ran at Dunstall Park. Red Splash won a novice chase there on November 1923. The following year he won the inaugural running of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Dual Grand National winner Reynoldstown won his first race at Wolverhampton in 1933. Five-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Golden Miller also won there. In the 1970s, Comedy of Errors won Wolverhampton’s Champion Hurdle Trial a month before landing his second Champion Hurdle, while dual Champion Hurdler Night Nurse won over fences at the 1978 Christmas meeting.

Wolverhampton Racecourse staged Britain’s first Saturday evening race meeting on 21 July 1962. A local pop group was booked to entertain the crowd between races. Strict instructions were given for the group to begin playing as soon as the runners had passed the winning post and to stop when the first horse entered the paddock for the next race.

Its meeting on 14 November 1973 coincided with the royal wedding of the Queen’s daughter HRH Princess Anne to Captain Mark Phillips. To celebrate the occasion, Wolverhampton Racecourse staged the Royal Wedding Handicap Chase. In what must have been the coincidence bet of the year, the race was won by a horse named Royal Mark.

The last Flat meeting on the original triangular-shaped turf course took place on 28 September 1992. The final jumps meeting was held six months later.

After more than a century of racing, Wolverhampton Racecourse was given a complete revamp and became Britain’s third all-weather track. More significantly, it was the first to have floodlights.

The course was relocated further down Gorsebrook Road and reopened on 26 December 1993 with a left-handed all-weather Fibresand track that ran inside the new turf course. The sixth race that day, a six-furlong handicap won by Petraco, was the first race run under lights in Britain.

The turf course was mainly used for jump racing. It was abandoned in 2002, having been deemed too narrow for competitive racing. Since then, it has just staged Flat racing.

The Wolverhampton Racecourse Track and Ground Type

Wolverhampton Racecourse is a sharp, left-handed oval circuit of just under a mile in circumference. It has fairly short straights and tight turns. Of all Britain’s racecourses, it is the most similar in layout to an American track.

In addition to the main oval course, there are two short spurs. One runs into the back straight and contains the six furlong and the 1m 5½f starts. The other leads directly into the bend out of the home straight and is used for the seven furlong and the 1m 6½f races.

Its original all-weather racing surface was changed from Fibresand to Polytrack in 2004. In turn, that was replaced by a new surface, Tapeta, in 2014. It was the first track to adopt a Tapeta surface, also now used at Newcastle and Southwell.

Tapeta is similar to Polytrack, in that it consists of a mixture of sand, rubber and fibres coated with hot wax. It is specifically designed to simulate the fibrous root structure of grass.

Wolverhampton Racecourse Characteristics

With the length of the straight being around two furlongs, relatively short by British standards, the course tends to favour horses that can race prominently, rather than those who take time to get into stride.

It usually pays to be on or near the pace turning into the straight, as it can be difficult to make up ground from the rear. However, the Tapeta surface does now make it easier to come with a late run, as the kickback is nowhere near as bad as the previous Fibresand and Polytrack surfaces.

When turning into the straight, horses tend to fan out to the middle of the track, although again, not as much as with its previous all-weather surfaces.

Reports from most jockeys suggest that, although Wolverhampton Racecourse is tight around the bends, it is well laid out and generally fair to most types of runner.

Effect of the Draw at Wolverhampton Racecourse

It pays to be drawn low over the minimum trip of five furlongs (1000m), due to the close proximity of the starting point to the first bend.

Low to middle numbers are favoured in the six-furlong (1200m) races, where runners have the full length of the backstraight to get a position.

The seven-furlong (1400m) start is unique in being on a spur with a short run into the first turn, so it is vital to get a good position here. Again, horses drawn low to middle have an advantage.

Over the extended one-mile trip (about 1700m), the first bend comes after about a furlong, (200m) so low numbers have a distinct advantage.

The opposite is true for races over the longer distances, with, high numbers appearing to hold an edge.

Wolverhampton Racecourse Biggest Events and Fixtures

Wolverhampton Racecourse is among the busiest in Britain. It holds around 80 days of racing a year, a combination of afternoon and evening meetings, and operates all year round.

It stages one Listed race, the Lady Wulfruna Stakes, named after the granddaughter of King Ethelred I and Queen Aethelflaed. It takes place in March over seven furlongs. The race was first run in 2002 and was awarded Listed status in 2007.

Its other significant race is the Lincoln Trial Handicap, also run in March.

Fixtures for Wolverhampton Racecourse in 2022

  • Jan: 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, 17, 22, 24, 28, 31
  • Feb: 1, 7, 12, 14, 25, 28
  • Mar: 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 26, 29
  • Apr: 2, 9, 12, 18, 19, 23, 27, 29
  • May: 6, 9, 17, 19, 23
  • Jun: 20
  • Jul: 5, 11, 19, 29
  • Aug: 8, 12, 16, 19, 31
  • Sep: 3, 13, 17, 19, 27
  • Oct: 1, 3, 10, 15, 17, 20, 29, 31
  • Nov: 7, 11, 12, 14, 19, 26, 28, 29
  • Dec: 3, 5, 10, 12, 13, 18, 21, 26, 27, 30

Recent high-class winners at Wolverhampton Racecourse

Since the introduction of the Tapeta surface, several top trainers are sending some of their highly regarded horses there. This is particularly true of late-maturing two-year-olds that were not considered forward enough to run during the turf season. They can gain valuable experience on the all-weather before setting out on their three-year-old campaign.

For example, John Gosden’s Wissahickon made a winning debut in a 1m ½f novice contest in October 2017. He went on to win the following year’s Cambridgeshire, one of flat racing’s top handicaps. Gosden also gave his 2019 Oaks winner Anapurna her first start at Wolverhampton Racecourse in December 2018, though she could only finish ninth of 13 runners that day.

Richard Hannon’s King Of Change was beaten a short head on his racecourse debut at Wolverhampton in November 2018. He went on to win the next year’s Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

Favourites don’t have a great record at Wolverhampton Racecourse. This can be attributed in part to the type of horse that runs there. Most of the track’s races are low-grade handicaps, catering for horses of limited ability. Such horses tend to be less consistent than those who run in higher-class races.

The one exception to this trend is two-year-old handicap races, known as nurseries. Favourites in those races have a strike rate of around 35% in recent years.

Leading trainers at Wolverhampton Racecourse

  • David Evans
  • David Loughnane
  • Tony Carroll
  • Mark Johnston (now Charlie & Mark Johnston)

Charlie Appleby has a 35% strike rate for winners, with 77% of his runners being placed. However, due to his prominence as a top-flight trainer, his runners are often over-bet and start at short prices.

Leading Jockeys at Wolverhampton Racecourse

  • Luke Morris
  • Hollie Doyle
  • Richard Kingscote
  • David Probert

In addition, Jack Mitchell boasts a 20% strike rate over the last three years.

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Chloe
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