UK Flat Racecourses – Professional Punter Guide. For those interested, I want to share some of my thoughts on all the turf courses in England, Scotland & Wales.
UK FLAT RACECOURSES – PROFESSIONAL PUNTER GUIDE
ASCOT (Right-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
What I like about this track is we don’t get many hard-luck stories. Also, the racing is top quality, and the races are run properly.
Generally speaking, there is a slight advantage to racing prominently over sprint distances. Other than that there is no big bias, and that comment applies to the draw.
From a professional gambler’s stance, the betting markets are strong and course bookmakers will lay a bet! To cut a long story short, Ascot would be in my top five tracks!
AYR (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐
Ayr is one of the most difficult courses to describe. One of the reasons for that is the quality of racing varies dramatically, and so does the ground!
The track itself is relatively flat and galloping, and riders shouldn’t be running into traffic problems. With that said jockey knowledge is key to finding the best ground.
While I’m not the biggest fan of the flat track at Ayr, it wouldn’t stop me from placing big bets on the right races. For the most part, I can take it or leave it!
BATH (Left-Handed) ⭐
Be weary, a runner is never home at Bath until it crosses the winning line. In short, the low quality of racing and often hard ground are negative factors at the country’s highest racecourse.
If you are betting at Bath, look for runners with proven form at the course. I would also suggest looking for runners who are guaranteed to get the distance. PS – The draw depends on the ground.
Bath has too many hard-luck stories, and I prefer to treat the track with a bit of caution. Runners are often seen getting bumped and bored, and that creates an element of luck!
BEVERLEY (Right-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐
While others will argue that the track isn’t overly testing, I disagree! Many runners get collared close home, and jockeys have a tendency to allow their mounts to over race!
The draw bias can be extreme at this course, albeit the advantage changes when the ground rides indifferently. Some jockeys ride the track well, so you need to check the stats!
Optically speaking, I’m no big fan of races on this course. However, by understanding the challenge, my winning margin is higher than average at Beverley.
BRIGHTON (Left-Handed) ⭐
If punters from the USA witnessed the contours of Brighton, they would be asking why we bet on such. Let me just say it’s a challenge for both horse and rider.
Since the final incline is extremely stiff, it is important for jockeys to save something for the finish. Watch earlier races for a guide to the best draw, and pay particular attention to course and distance form.
To tell the truth I tend to avoid betting on this undulating track. The grade of runners is low, and there are many bad luck stories.
CARLISLE (Right-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐
Despite Carlisle having a stiff finish, prominent racers do best at this course. The draw isn’t the biggest factor, albeit it depends on jockey tactics.
Look for runners who are gutsy, and who are proven over slightly further. Other than that, this is a relatively straight-forwards track with cleanly run races.
For some reason or the other, I genuinely like Carlisle. If you know what you are doing, this is an easy track to understand. Also, considering its location, the quality of racing is fair!
CATTERICK (Left-Handed) ⭐
While the undulations are moderate there are plenty of them. Nippy well-balanced types do best at this track. Pay particular attention to course and distance form.
Depending on the distance and number of runners, a low draw can be advantageous on fast ground. However, course stats prove it’s often exaggerated and the betting market gets it wrong!
In short, I’m happy to bet in jump races at Catterick, but not necessarily on the flat. With that said, If the odds are right it wouldn’t stop me!
CHEPSTOW (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐
Take it from me, Chepstow is a real stamina test! The undulations in the straight take are extreme, although they shouldn’t take away from the fact that it’s a fair course.
If we look at all the data available, the draw advantage is minimal. From my research, the ground is a bigger factor. Keep up to speed with changing conditions.
With no exception, I’m happy to bet at Chepstow! While jump racing here is better quality, the form of flat races hold-up well.
CHESTER (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐
Chester is one if not the sharpest track in the country. While it’s possible to run the sweeping bends, the biggest task is obtaining a clear run.
Races on this course are often over-paced! Nevertheless, it still favours those who race prominently. A low draw is a massive advantage, especially in sprints.
Some horses love it here, and I’m happy to get stuck in. With that said, I often prefer laying well-drawn runners who struggle with the early pace. Getting behind on the rail is a disaster!
DONCASTER (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
As both a bookmaker and punter I love Doncaster! In my opinion, this is one of the fairest courses in the country. The perfect racing conditions and quality of races are positives.
A high draw is beneficial over sprint distances, and that is particularly the case over six furlongs. Other than that, there are not many deal breakers.
Definitely in my top five tracks! I’m happy to double my bet sizing at Doncaster, and getting on isn’t an issue. Look for a strong galloping type is my advice.
EPSOM (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐
If the track is good enough for the Derby and Oaks, it’s good enough for me! Nevertheless, seek out runners who handle undulations and tight bends.
Over sprint distances, look for those who can go a good early pace. Over longer distances, races are often over-paced and jockeyship plays a key role. Any previous course form is a bonus.
Epsom will always produce its fair of hard-luck stories. With that said, it’s a premium track and you simply need to pick and choose races for betting.
FFOS LAS (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐
While the quality of racing in Ffos Las lacks strength in depth, it is one of the fairest courses in the country. To cut a long story short, it’s flat and galloping with no jockey excuses.
Because the ground can go from one extreme to the other, conditions are more important than the draw. Watch for changes during racing, and stay informed.
The only negative about Ffos Las is the quality of racing tends to be low. But even so, it’s an easy course to read and bad luck isn’t a typical factor.
GOODWOOD (Right-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐
Goodwood is a difficult track to ride, and there are many bad luck stories Those who race handily are favoured, and that is especially the case over 5 furlongs.
Since the layout of the course was changed, the draw bias is less than it was. With that said, on better ground, being drawn high in sprints is advantageous.
I wouldn’t recommend putting the mortgage money on anything at Goodwood. Albeit, the quality of racing is excellent, and opportunities need taking.
HAMILTON (Right-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐
Hamilton is both a sharp and undulating track. With its stiff uphill finish, watch for runners that are proven over further. While it sounds obvious, course form here or at similar tracks is a big positive.
Being drawn high can offer a small advantage, but it’s not a deal breaker. I would label this as a fair course, and jockeys shouldn’t be getting into traffic problems.
Oh yes! – I like betting at Hamilton. If you know what you are doing, it’s an easy course to read. PS – Look for runners who do well at other stiff tracks or over slightly further.
HAYDOCK (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Top track, and fair in every aspect. Prominent racers are particularly suited by Haydock, and it’s hard to make up ground over sprint distances.
Front-runners are suited by being drawn low on the turning track, but the draw means little over the straight course. Being able to race up with the pace is more important than the actual draw.
Certainly one of my top five tracks for betting. While the betting market tends to get it right, watch out for those who have been laid out for the big sprints.
LEICESTER (Right-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Leicester is a stiff track in every sense, and it runs similarly to Newmarket. The final three furlongs are all on the cuff, and it takes a strong stayer to win.
Jockey positioning is more important than the draw. Moreover, keeping balance and saving something for the finish is a must. Hard luck stories are seldom, although keeping a straight course is an issue.
I like betting on any track I can read, and Leicester would fit nicely into that category. Having a plan, staying focused, and betting on the right races is the key to profiting here.
LINGFIELD (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐
Derby trials are run at this track because it’s considered the nearest copy (undulating) of Epsom. However, the straight track is flatter, and in sprints a quick start is important.
While there is no draw bias on the round course, on the straight track a high draw is massively advantageous. Racing prominently is a must, and so is bagging the rail and getting the first run!
To be frank, I have an issue with the betting markets at Lingfield. In short, it’s hard to find any real betting value, albeit that applies more to all-weather racing!
MUSSELBURGH (Right-Handed) ⭐
Very sharp right-handed track and many runners struggle on the bend into the straight. Conditions are usually fast! Take note, TV camera positioning is pathetic thus making it hard to read a race.
There is a small bias towards high numbers at 7F, whereas the other races have next to no advantage. With that said, results prove that racing up with the pace is essential.
Not my cup of tea, with the main reason being I don’t like the TV coverage. While I will bet on the right races, they are few and far between.
NEWBURY (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
In my opinion, Newbury is the joint-fairest track in the country. What more could one wish than quality racing on a big galloping track? Without hesitation, it doesn’t get better.
I say bugger the draw, the best horse wins at this course. When it rains, conditions become testing. Knowledge is key, and staying up to speed is important.
Great track in every sense, and I love betting here. In fact, when I see it’s Newbury, I make an extra effort to find the right bets. Double up is my advice, and go for the big multiples!
NEWMARKET (Mostly straight) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The headquarters for UK Racing. Since this is the base for most trainers, the quality of racing is high. Newmarket is a wide track and suits strong gallopers!
Any draw bias will depend on the ground. Finding the best part is down to jockeyship, and there are often varying opinions. Watch earlier races and stick with the better jockeys.
Newmarket can be difficult for betting, Nevertheless, it shouldn’t put you off, and doing your homework will make it all seem easy. Watch and learn, and pay particular attention to course stats.
NOTTINGHAM (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Nottingham is a fair track! While it’s a bit sharper than many believe, it suits most types. While the winning line can be a bit deceiving, that isn’t your problem!!
Bagging the rail can be an advantage in sprints, but it wouldn’t be a big bias. For the most part, racing up with the pace is a bigger positive.
It would be hard not to like Nottingham for the purpose of betting! The top trainers are happy to race at the midland’s track, and in my opinion, profiting is easy.
PONTEFRACT (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This would be my idea of the stiffest flat course in the country. The incline from the bottom of the track is something else, and the final 2 furlongs take some getting.
Since those racing prominently are favoured, getting the (low draw) rail is advantageous. However, when the ground becomes testing the opposite is true.
For some perverse reason, I like Pontefract. While it’s grueling for the runners, the elimination process becomes easier. Look for a strong stayer and pay attention to the ground & draw.
REDCAR (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Redcar is my idea of the flattest track in the country. In fact, if I had a front-runner, I would want to race it here. In short, it’s a fair course and no excuses.
I’m failing to see any real draw bias. The secret for jockeys is to get on the bunny and obtain the first run. This track is simply a no-brainer with tactics, race with the pace or lose!
Do I like Redcar for betting? the answer is hell yes! In some races, you can start counting your winnings from the halfway marker. However, you will need to pick and choose your bets for maximum advantage.
RIPON (Right-Handed) ⭐⭐
Despite being big in circumference, Ripon is a very sharp track. From the TV pictures, it’s hard to see the undulations and tight bends. Take it from me – this track is sharp!
In sprints, being drawn next to the rail is important. Actually, the question is which rail? and the answer is the one with the early paced-runners! Over a mile, the draw favors high numbers.
It’s just an everyday type of course. If I see Ripon during a busy day racing, I’ll pay more attention to the other tracks! However, where there is a will there is a way!
SALISBURY (Right-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐
Be careful, Salisbury is more testing than you might believe. While the incline isn’t a big one, the last half a mile is all uphill. Furthermore, the ground can ride very fast!
While there is a slight elbow at the five-furlong marker, it doesn’t create any real draw bias. Racing up with the pace and judging the distance is more important.
It can be frustrating watching runners wobble at this course, but overall it’s fair. I’ve had my share of big bets at Salisbury, and I don’t plan on stopping.
SANDOWN (Right-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
What can I say about Sandown? From a quality perspective, it is great! With that said, you will see many hard luck stories. That is especially the case in sprint races!
In sprints, it’s double jeopardy with the draw. With a quick break high numbers have a definite advantage, but a slow starter will need to wait until the cut-off!
I’m not overly keen on betting in sprint races at Sandown, but for the rest, it’s a top track. My advice, do your research and look for races which will be properly run!
THIRSK (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐
The round course is relatively flat, albeit the tight bends make it more suitable for nippy types. Pegging one back can be difficult if the jockey sets the right fractions.
If we use data, the five-furlong races at Thirsk are the most biased in the country. However, at other distances, the advantage is negligible, and that only changes with soft ground.
Ditto Ripon, in that I can take it or leave it. For some reason or other, Northern trainers seem to have a monopoly at Thirsk. Moreover, the quality of racing is average.
WINDSOR (Figure of eight) ⭐⭐⭐
The Windsor course is a figure of eight, with particularly sharp bends. Races of 1M3F or less are only right-handed, albeit 5F sprints are mostly straight.
Runners at Windsor tend to come off the bridal earlier than at other tracks. Expect to see jockeys fighting for good positions. The draw is dependent on the ground, and earlier races are your best guide.
I like punting on this track. My best advice is to consider course and distance winners and look for runners who are willing to fight.
YARMOUTH (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐
Along with Redcar, Yarmouth is the best track for front-runners. Irrelevant to the distance, it is imperative to lay up with the pace.
Since the emphasis is on the early pace, the draw is less important. Nevertheless, a high draw does produce slightly better results over five furlongs.
The form holds up well and I for one find many betting opportunities in Yarmouth. My advice, look at early-pace types and those who perform well at similar tracks.
YORK (Left-Handed) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
York would be my idea of the joint fairest course in the country. Suitable for quality horses who know how to gallop. Sprint distances suit prominent racers, and a high draw can be a positive.
Since most of the runners come mid-track, there are seldom excuses. Best of all, jockeys can ride their race, and the cream rises to the top.
Talk about saving the best for last! York is fantastic, and many of my biggest bets were at this track. My advice, stick with form and forget the wags!
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