Racing: simply thrilling
Great Yarmouth is a great destination if you like a trip to a race course as part of your holiday or weekend away. Great Yarmouth Racecourse has meetings from Easter to October, and is hugely popular with trainers from Newmarket, thanks to it's straight mile, perfect for young horses. Greyhound racing takes place year round at Yarmouth Stadium. And for something just that bit different, stock car racing, big trucks and banger racing also takes place at the Stadium.
Great Yarmouth Racecourse
Great Yarmouth Race Course has been on its current site for almost a century, and racing dates back almost 300 years in the town. The course hosts at least 20 race meetings a year from Easter to October and is only a 4 minute drive or 1.2mile stroll from Imperial Hotel.
The racecourse hosts afternoon and evening race meetings, depending on the time of year. An incredibly popular Ladies' Day takes place in September as part of the well-known 3-day Eastern Festival event, when beautiful dresses, amazing millinery and smart suits make a welcome appearance. And the John Musker Fillies' Stakes, the race with the most prize money of the year, is also run during the Eastern Festival.
The horse racing course is used for flat racing only and benefits from having a pretty flat track. The track itself is oval and about 1.75 miles round, with bends that are known to be quite tight. There are two long straights about five furlongs in length. There is a dog-leg extension to the finishing straight, which sees horses and jockeys lining up right next to Great Yarmouth's Golf Course. This extension means that straight mile races can be run, making Great Yarmouth race course very popular with owners and trainer looking to develop young horses.
Britain's horse racing capital, Newmarket, is not far away in neighbouring Suffolk, and some great horses are often sent up to Yarmouth for a meeting. And it's well worth noting that several juvenile horses have gone on to fame and glory from an inaugural outing in Great Yarmouth, Dubai Millennium being a notable example. He was ridden here at Great Yarmouth on his debut outing in 1998 by Frankie Dettori. Owned by the Dubai Royal Family, Dubai Millennium went on to become one of the best horses to run for the Godolphin organisation.
Lots of people come to Great Yarmouth to experience the fun and excitement of horse racing. The course has a fabulous location, with beautiful views over the track towards the sea and Scroby Sands for those who take a seat in one of the grandstands. You can also see the gol course to the left. The site is green, spacious and well laid out, with great views of the Parade Ring if you want to check the form before the jockeys mount their horses. The winning owners, trainer and jockey also gather here after the race to receive their prizes.
Traffic can get a bit hectic along Lawn Avenue on a race day, but you can easily circumnavigate it if you leave from Imperial Hotel. Perfect for those combining their Great Yarmouth race meeting with a delicious Race Day Relay dining option at the hotel. Race Day Relays take your racing experience to a whole new level, with options for fabulous food and drink in a convivial atmosphere before and after the race meeting.
Greyhound and motor racing
Yarmouth Stadium was built in 1939, just 19 years after Great Yarmouth's golf course and horse racing course moved to land almost opposite on North Denes. Just a handful of greyhound races were held before World War Two, but the crowds arrived in drove for Yarmouth Stadium's first proper greyhound race meeting in December 1946.
Greyhounds are one of the oldest breeds of dogs, thought to have been originally bred for Pharohs in Eygpt to chase and hunt. Several historic figures such as Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I and General Custer were known to be huge greyhound fans. In England, greyhounds were originally bred as hunting dogs to chase hare, foxes, and deer. It's astonishing to think that they can reach speeds of up to 40 to 45 miles per hour.
The frequent greyhound race meetings, which are run on Mondays, Thursday and Saturdays are an important part of the evening entertainment itinerary for holiday makers and greyhound race followers to Great Yarmouth.
Yarmouth Stadium also hosted Speedway racing from the the late 1940s to the 1960s, with Great Yarmough fielding a team called the Bloaters, and later the Greyhounds. Motor racing still takes place on the tarmac track, with stock cars, destruction derby events, banger racing, rookie rods, Land Rover and big truck racing events.