There is at least one Ladies Day on offer at every track in the UK, but no single course is quite so enamoured with the female-focussed day as the delightful venue of Chester. Beginning in May, and moving through to September, the picturesque course offers a steady stream of hugely popular and well-attended Ladies Day events.
Whichever Ladies Day you choose to come to, you will find a bumper crowd of around 20,000, fabulous facilities, fashion, and high-quality racing action – all of which combine to create a cracking day out for groups large and small. A broadly similar experience can be found at any of these fixtures, but here we take a closer look at the track’s signature event, which takes place in May each year.
Of the 15 racedays held at the track each year, easily the most prestigious are the three that make up the May Festival, which runs from Wednesday through to Friday in early May. Ladies Day takes place on the Thursday and is one of the first dates pencilled into the diaries of local racing fans.
Expect a bumper crowd littered with fabulous fashion and millenary efforts, delicious food and drink, and a host of additional entertainment. Keep an eye out for the Best Dressed judges too. Catch their eye and you could win one of the excellent prizes on offer – 2022 saw the winner walk away with a Boodles diamond, and a £700 fashion voucher.
Then, of course, we have the racing, with a total of seven contests laid on over the course of the afternoon. The first of the day’s events gets underway at 1:30pm, with the last commencing at 4:50pm. Gates open nice and early at 11:30am for those who wish to arrive in plenty of time and grab a drink or a bite to eat. Following the conclusion of the day’s action, many racegoers opt to keep the party going in the wealth of bars found within Chester city centre. Alternatively, you could opt to party even harder in Liverpool, which is within easy striking distance.
The track has traditionally offered four main ticketing options, but this was expanded in 2022 with the addition of the Edinburgh Gin Garden. Whatever your taste or budget preferences, you should find something to fit the bill.
From £10 – An extremely budget-friendly option, this ticket grants access to both the Open Course area located on the inside of the track, and the Dee Stand on the opposite side of the course. Picnics are permitted in the Open Course area, whilst the Dee Stand provides a decent selection of bars and eateries. Overall, a very popular choice for both families and Ladies Day groups.
From £35 – Located halfway up the home straight, this area provides access to the Parade Ring, Winners Enclosure, and the live DJ and food and drink vendors of the Pavilion Lawn. Tattersalls ticket holders are also free to enter both the Open Course and Dee Stand areas should they wish.
From £55 – Located dead in line with the winning post, this area grants excellent views of the action, and includes access to the track’s iconic Panoramic Grandstand. In addition to all Open Course, Dee Stand, and Tattersalls areas, racegoers are also able to enjoy the facilities of the County Concourse, County Champagne Bar, and Paddock sections of the course. The County Long Room is also located in the County Concourse. Tickets come at a small premium but include access to additional bars and seated areas.
From £120 – Located in line with the winning post, on the inside of the track, Chester’s premier enclosure provides the very best views of the racing from a comfortable seated area. Including complete access to all public areas of the course, Winning Post ticket holders can also sample the high-end drink offerings of the exclusive Refresh and Refuel Bars.
The track’s newest option is located in the Paddock area of the track. Set in a beautiful, covered garden area, ticket holders enjoy excellent views of the action and table drinks service. Prices are currently unavailable but check the official course site for the latest info.
Racegoers seeking a truly lavish raceday experience may wish to consider one of the many excellent hospitality packages on offer, including restaurant deals, Private Boxes, Festival Chalets and more. See the hospitality section of the track’s official website for full details and information on how to book.
The prices quoted above refer to a single adult ticket. Groups are advised to contact the track in advance, as discounts may be available.
Given its layout, Chester offers a unique racing experience, with crowds cheering on their fancies from both the inside and outside of the course with the city walls in the background. A great experience, setting and day out are one thing, but what about the action on the track? Those looking to back a winner on the day will have seven opportunities to do so.
A bustling betting ring can be expected ahead of each of the seven events, but the tension and excitement are ramped up a notch ahead of the Dee Stakes and Ormonde Stakes. The former is regularly used as a stepping stone towards the Epsom Derby, whilst the latter usually features a selection of stamina-laden stars.
The aforementioned duo may top the bill in terms of the quality of performer on show, but all seven events have something to offer. The four handicaps are popular with punters looking to pick out a winner at a big price, whilst the penultimate race for the two-year-olds may provide an early sighting of a future star.
First opened in 1539 (or 1512 according to some records) Chester Racecourse has earned itself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest continually operating racecourse in the world. In addition to its age, Chester also stands out from the crowd in terms of its shape. Known to many as the “Roodee”, the track comes closer to resembling a perfect circle than any other UK course.
Rich in history, and enjoying a beautiful setting on the banks of the River Dee, the track also provides all of the facilities you would expect from a 21st-century racecourse. The stands themselves give off a distinctive Tudor vibe and may be amongst the most aesthetically pleasing in the country. Contained within that historic visage, however, are a raft of contemporary bars and restaurants, bringing the venue firmly into the modern era.
No track is so well-practised at laying on a Ladies Day as Chester. All of that experience certainly pays off, with many groups returning time and time again. No matter which enclosure you plump for, you are sure to be in for an excellent experience. It is nevertheless nice to know a little of what lies in store. With that in mind, we conclude with a selection of the highlights to be found within the various enclosures.
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