Everything you need to know about Haydock racecourse
Last updated & tested: 2020-01-01
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Haydock and horse racing go back well before the racecourse as we know it today opened in 1899. Meetings were held at nearby Newton-le-Willows for many years before. Haydock racecourse is a left-handed dual-purpose track used for both National Hunt and Flat horse racing. Unlike other venues that stage this great sport, there are no real undulations save for a slight rise in the ground up the run-in. In addition to the oval track (a circuit is about 1m 5f) on which jumps races are contested, there’s also a 6f straight for Flat events.
Haydock race dates at different times of the year broadly reflect when the National Hunt season is on and when meetings on the level take centre stage. There is even some mixed racing, however, which encompasses both spheres. This means that Haydock horse racing appeals to everyone and, alongside another Greater Merseyside venue in Aintree, is home to some of biggest events in this sport. Although nearer St Helens than Liverpool, there’s obviously a huge catchment area for racing fans in the North West and they descend on Haydock Park for a day out. Read on below as we delve into more detail about the many famous race meetings held at this venue.
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What Haydock Park events can I bet on?
As mentioned above, Haydock is in use all year round with jumps racing on largely during the winter months and Flat action taking over for the summer. When the going is heavy, it is a very attritional course to run at whether there’s obstacles to clear or not. There are top class events across both spheres, but here’s more about the main meetings in detail…
Champion Hurdle Trial will blow away those winter blues
The Saturday in mid-January before Cheltenham Festival Trials Day is the first of many Haydock race dates worth putting your diary. Four Grade 2 events over hurdles and fences takes place here on that day, headlined by the Champion Hurdle Trial. Although the official race, many unofficial trials are better indicators of form. This is because Haydock tends to be heavy going throughout the winter months and the Cheltenham Festival races are more often than not run on good ground these days.
Nigel Twiston-Davies won the Champion Hurdle Trial four times on the spin between 2015 and 2018 with the same horse, The New One. Inglis Drever (2005) use this extended 1m 7f test as prep for the first of his three Stayers’ Hurdle successes, so battling through the Merseyside mud may actually be a better indicator of stamina than the 2m championship hurdling division.
Another Cheltenham Festival trial that happens over the same course and distance is the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle. This is a chance for those heading to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle to tackle a flatter track en route to the Cotswolds venue. Sea Pigeon (1975) is by far the most famous winner of this, having later won the Chester Cup and Ebor Handicap on the Flat as well the Champion Hurdle races in England, Scotland and Wales, and the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.
The action over fences is always competitive on this January card to with the 2m 4f Altcar Novices’ Chase a race which local trainer Donald McCain has done well in, saddling three winners. My Way De Solzen, meanwhile, landed this in 2007 before dropping back in trip and becoming the champion 2m novice chaser with victory in the Arkle Challenge Trophy.
It’s the extended 3m 1f Peter Marsh Handicap Chase that’s undoubtedly the big betting race at Haydock in January. Although limited in the weights on offer, the select nature of the fields ensure quality. Jodami – the 1993 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero – was a dual winner of this, landing the Peter Marsh en route to the blue riband event of steeplechasing. Bregawn (1982) would win the big one at Prestbury Park the following year. Earth Summit (1995), meanwhile, had his finest hour across Merseyside at Aintree when scoring in the 1998 Grand National.
Grand National Trial centre stage in February
Speaking of the world’s most famous steeplechase, the official trial for the Grand National happens at Haydock in February. Run over an extended 3m 4f and holding Grade 3 status, if horses are to follow-up at Aintree they’ll need to stay a further three-quarters of a mile. As with those Cheltenham trials held here in January, you can’t say this is the best indicator of form, but former Grand National winners Red Rum and Party Politics won the year after landing the big one.
Supporting the Grand National Trial, which is a handicap, are a couple of graded hurdle contests and a respected juvenile race. The Rendlesham Hurdle is a Grade 2 over almost 2m 7f, most famously won by French raider Baracouda in 2002 en route to his Stayers’ Hurdle success at Cheltenham. This often feels like further, given the likelihood of heavy going underfoot.
Novices also get their chance to demonstrate their stamina in the other Grade 2, the Prestige Novices’ Hurdles. This is an official trial for the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham, but again the difference in conditions and between the courses mean there are other races to consider for form. The Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle gives four-year-olds a chance to shine and the mighty Persian War landed this way back in 1967 before going on to bigger and better things.
Mixed card means Swinton and Spring Cup on same day in May
One of the great things about Haydock racecourse is the organisers are prepared to put a great day of action in early May that’s a mixture of Flat and National Hunt events. This is commonplace across the Irish Sea in the Emerald Isle, but not often done in the UK.
The Swinton Handicap Hurdle is an ultra-competitive Grade 3 race over jumps and an extended 1m 7f. Just one horse – Eradicate in 2010 and 2011 – has managed to win this race in consecutive years. Evan Williams has been the trained to follow for the Swinton in recent years, having saddled four different winners between 2013 and 2018.
Supporting that main National Hunt event is the Listed 7f Spring Cup on the Flat. Older horses have a great record in this dash up the Haydock home straight despite the weight-for-age they must give to any three-year-old runners. Richard Hannon saddled back-to-back Spring Cup winners in 2017 and 2018 with fellow trainer David O’Meara doing the same in 2015 and 2016.
There’s also a Flat only meeting later in May where the feature contest is the Group 2 Temple Stakes over the flying 5f. Supporting that open cavalry charge are a couple of three-year-olds only races. They are the Silver Bowl – a 1m handicap – and the 6f Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes. On top of that, fillies and mares strut their stuff up the straight in a Listed affair.
Lancashire Oaks the Pinnacle of summer racing at Haydock
When it comes to summertime, Haydock has a number of different cards run on weekend in-between illustrious events such as the Epsom Derby and Royal Ascot, that big meeting and Newmarket’s July Festival, and another sandwiched between Glorious Goodwood and the Ebor Festival at York.
Up first is a card headlined by the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes over almost 1m 4f. This gives older fillies and mares the chance to warm up for a crack at the Lancashire Oaks, but more on that in a moment. Supporting the Pinnacle are the Listed 5f Achilles Stakes for three-year-olds and up, and the 7f Group 3 John Of Gaunt Stakes – a raced named after the famous Duke of Lancaster, who was a famous figure in British history during the Hundred Years War.
The Lancashire Oaks itself is a Group 2 race for fillies and mares aged three and over over almost 1m 4f. This takes place in early July and no trainer has won it more times than John Gosden with seven victories. There’s also the fiercely competitive Old Newton Cup open to older horses over the same trip on this card in which Mark Johnston has the best recent record with three wins since 2013. Italian trainer Luca Cumani has four career victories in this one.
In August, the feature at Haydock horse racing is the Group 3 Rose Of Lancaster Stakes over an extended 1m 2f. Also open to three-year-olds and up, this is one of many such races that hasn’t really had one particularly dominant trainer or jockey in it. Supporting this is a Listed 1m contest for fillies and mares, the Dick Hern Stakes in which three-year-olds have a strong record.
Haydock Sprint Cup the September Highlight
Group 1 action headlines the Saturday before Irish Champions Weekend with Haydock’s popular Sprint Cup one of the most competitive 6f sprints in racing. Just one horse – Be Friendly in the first two runnings of this race in 1966 and 1967 – has won it more than once. Although sometimes contested in testing conditions, elite sprinters go at an end-to-end gallop.
At some points in its history, the Sprint Cup has been open to juveniles, but they are given few chances to earn black type at Haydock. A rare top class two-year-old only event is held on this card, however, in the Ascendant Stakes over 1m. The other supporting race on Sprint Cup day is the Group 3 Superior Mile, which is open to three-year-olds and up.
Betfair Chase the big one over fences in November
All that Haydock Park events were lacking was a Grade 1 National Hunt race, but in 2005 the Betfair Chase was founded. Registered at the Lancashire Chase, evoking a race of the same name first run at Manchester in 1884, it is an extended 3m 1f test that is the first elite stayers’ contest over fences in the jumps season.
Given the large prize money on offer, and the fact this is the first leg of the Stayers’ Chase Triple Crown, there have been many multiple winners of the Betfair Chase. They include four-time victor Kauto Star, one of the all-time jumps great; the popular Colin Tizzard trained Cue Card won this race three times, and Silviniaco Conti enjoyed two successes at Haydock.
Bristol De Mai demonstrated how handling horrible conditions in the Betfair Chase is essential in 2017, following-up on previous Peter Marsh success earlier in the year. A horse really has to love the mud if they’re to act on Haydock heavy ground and getting this trip on bottomless going is no mean feat. There’s also a Grade Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle over almost 2m 7f and a Listed novice hurdle at a mile shorter supporting the big one, as well as a useful graduation chase.
Haydock is also home to a National Hunt card near Christmas where the competitive Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase can provide clues for the Peter Marsh. That event over almost 2m 7f is supported by the Listed almost 2m 3f Abram Mares’ Hurdle for novices, which has proved a useful form for the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Who is the best bookmaker to support my betting on Haydock horse racing?
Many of the Haydock Park events are sponsored by different bookies, so it can pay to shop around and gamble with a number of firms depending on what’s on offer for horse racing they are involved with. There’s one bookmaker in particular, though, who are synonymous with the Merseyside venue’s most prestigious jumps prize. Betfair have gone from being just the leading sports betting exchange in the UK to offering a fantastic sportsbooks packed full of regular fixed odds betting. They put a lot into horse racing and offer plenty of extra places on events daily – not just the races they sponsor. As well getting the best odds guaranteed for all British and Irish horse racing, Betfair put you in complete control of each-way betting. They do this by allowing you to add and remove places at adjusted prices.
If you think something is guaranteed to finish in the first two and don’t need to worry about third place, then you can get a bigger each-way price than the standard terms. When you’re gambling on big handicaps like the Old Newton Cup or Grand National Trial, this can be a great way to add extra value. You can even each-way edge an accumulator giving you extra protection when placing multiples. If the events you’re betting on are broadcast live on ITV Racing, and provided they have a certain number of runners, you can get bonuses of up to a £25 token should it be returned at a starting price of 3/1 or bigger. You can even try laying horses to lose on the Betfair Exchange if you don’t fancy something and can find a fellow punt to take the bet. This unique dimension adds a whole new layer to the gambling experience.
Get Haydock races tips all year round right here
Plenty of tipsters are prepared to give you names of horses they fancy out there online, but do these so-called experts give you a detailed explanation why? At OpenOdds, we’re proud to say our Haydock races tips and those from all racecourses featured on our site are laid out with all you need to know. Tipsters we use often drill right down into individual races, especially when they’re so competitive like the Sprint Cup or Peter Marsh, and we’ll put forward not one, not two, but three horses.
The first is our main selection that the experts think is the best value to win the race and has the best chance of doing so. Next, we’ll talk about a key or main danger, giving you the freedom to choose between the two, but also why one is favoured over the other. Last, and by no means least, we’ll have the each-way betting angled covered. There are plenty of dark horses running at Haydock who can go well at a big price and make the frame. You need to know who these types are before deciding how you want to bet. Backing favourites is sometimes what we recommend and other times we’ll take them on when the experts say they look vulnerable. OpenOdds try to cater for every kind of punter in their Haydock races tips and beyond. We’ll tell you where the best odds at the time of writing are to be found and how risky backing each selected horse is using a simple scale of one to 10. If there’s a high number next to it, then it’s a high risk bet. If not, then we’re recommending you play at smaller odds.
Expert advice is there for you when you need it
Knowing the Haydock race dates is one thing, but setting weights, entries and announcements relating to racehorses into their proper context is quite another. Before you take a punt, you need an authoritative source of horse racing news that links the latest developments and happenings in this sport to what they mean for the market. At OpenOdds, you can rely on us to take a betting first approach to what’s going on. If a race result has implications for others going forward, then we’re on it. Should a horse be allotted a big weight by the handicapper for a valuable race, we’ll explain how and why that’s affected the odds.
If you’re not familiar with Haydock or horse racing in general but want to learn all about it, then we also give you a leg up. Newbie punters should head on over to the OpenOdds glossary section now where there’s a whole host of explanatory articles that tell you what betting and industry terms mean. Don’t know a quadrella from patent. You can soon find out what the differences are by taking a little time to read pieces written by real betting experts. Our glossary is a great and invaluable resource, so check it out now!