“How pleasant once more to find ourselves within the Sandown Club Enclosure, under a genial sky and with all the well-known surroundings of pretty women, good luncheon and good sport,” wrote a satisfied customer in 1879 about this very venue. And with good reason, too, as Sandown Park was the first purpose-built racecourse in England, complete with enclosure.
Today, Sandown hosts top-quality racing on both the flat and national hunt jump cards and is one of only two modern-day British racecourses that still combines flat and national hunt races on the same card (the other being Haydock Park). Because it was intentionally built, it remains one of the most modern and accessible courses in Europe today.
Set 14 miles south of London, Sandown was the Queen Mother’s favorite course, and she even has a statue here, along with one of Special Cargo, her horse that won three consecutive Grand Military Gold Cups between 1984 and 1986, along with the Whitbread Gold Cup in 1984. The track has, over its esteemed history, witnessed many legendary performances from iconic horses from yesteryear such as Arkle, Mill Reef, and Desert Orchid. Modern highlights include the two-day Gold Cup meeting in April that generates huge crowds, drawn in by the thrills of watching both codes of horse racing in the same meeting at this famous old course.
Sandown Race Course History
Differing slightly from other UK horseracing courses, Sandown Park was opened in 1875 with the express intention of being the first purpose-built enclosed racecourse in Great Britain. Because of this, only paying customers could access the sport, making it a safer environment for patrons to bring their wives and daughters for a civilized day out, thus doubling attendances. In the words of one regular, it was, “A place where a man could take his ladies without any fear of their hearing coarse language or witnessing uncouth behavior.”
It could all have been very different, however as, back in 1870, the plot of land on which today’s course stands was up for sale. The residents of the town of Esher, who then numbered 1,800, were faced with a choice of having either a lunatic asylum built on the land or a race course and, amazingly, they opted for the former due to racing’s links with drunks and crooks. They needn’t have worried, as the purpose-built enclosed race course ensured the riff-raff were kept away, and the gentle course that stands there today quickly became known as ‘The ladies’ racecourse, par excellence.’
Sandown Race Course track configuration
- The sprint course climbs throughout its 5f length
- Sandown suits gallopers blessed with pace and stamina
- Steeplechase course is run right-handed
Sandown race track bias
Sandown’s main flat circuit is a right-handed run and stretches over an oval course that measures one mile 5f. The run-in is uphill and four furlongs in length. As for the steeplechase course, this is also an uphill climb, with a descent from the turn of the home straight to the back straight. There are also eleven fences to navigate. It is known to be a fair galloping course that ultimately requires a horse that boasts strong stamina.
On soft ground, it is not unusual to notice horses coming from behind over the last two furlongs due to jockeys often drifting across to the stand side in the straight. Over 5f, high numbers are always best where fields number twelve or more runners, whereas in smaller fields, low numbers work better. High numbers are definitely best over 7f in fields of twelve or more, except when soft.
Sandown race track best trainers
Sandown Park has been a stage for high-quality performances from the equine stars of both flat and national hunt racing. In modern times, Arkle, Mill Reef, Desert Orchid, and Nashwan are a few of the top names to have raced at the Esher track. Today, the best trainers around, both over jumps and on the flat, bring their horses to Sandown in the hope of adding their names to the roll of honor here.
But which trainers, over which disciplines, have the best recent record here at Sandown?
Sandown’s Top Jump Trainers
- N J Henderson (25.71% win rate)
- Harry Fry (25% win rate)
- N A Twiston-Davies (25% win rate)
- C L Tizzard (21.43% win rate)
- F O’Brien (21.43% win rate)
Sandown’s Top Flat Trainers
- Sir Michael Stoute (29.69% win rate)
- W J Haggas (20.93% win rate)
- J H M Gosden (20% win rate)
- C Appleby (20% win rate)
- C G Cox 73 (19.18% win rate)
Sandown race track best Jockeys
Sandown has enjoyed many magical moments over the years, and many famous horses have raced here. In fact, Desert Orchid, who always enjoyed Sandown—and neighboring Kempton Park—won his first major win here when he took down the Tolworth Hurdle in 1984. Flagship Uberalles and Sprinter Sacre also enjoyed good times here. Today, jockeys looking to emulate the likes of AP McCoy, Lester Piggot, and Frankie Dettori always look forward to a card at Sandown Park.
Here are the top five Sandown jockey win rates over the past three seasons.
Sandown’s Top Jump Jockeys
- Sean Houlihan (44.44% win rate)
- T J O’Brien (31.82% win rate)
- Nico de Boinville (26.67% win rate)
- B J Geraghty (26.67% win rate)
- D A Jacob (25.81% win rate)
Sandown’s Top Flat Jockeys
- S De Sousa (26.97% win rate)
- R L Moore (27.43% win rate)
- L Dettori (19.64% win rate)
- Andrea Atzeni (18.84% win rate)
- James Doyle (17.72% win rate)
Sandown racing season
A passion for both codes of racing is exhibited in the quality of Sandown’s annual fixtures. Under the national hunt, Sandown hosts ten meetings, highlights of which include the Tingle Creek Chase in December, January’s Tolworth Hurdle, and the Sunderlands Imperial Gold Cup in early March, which is run only a few days before the Cheltenham festival.
Sandown’s flat season also has some major events in its nineteen meeting schedule, not least The Brigadier Gerard Stakes in May and the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes in July.
Sandown race track stakes and Graded Stakes calendar for 2019
Saturday 5th January 2019 – Tolworth Hurdle – Jump – Afternoon – Turf
Saturday 2nd February 2019 – Jump – Afternoon – Turf
Friday 15th February 2019 – Jump – Afternoon – Turf
Friday 8th March 2019 – Jump – Afternoon – Turf
Saturday 9th March 2019 – Sunderlands Imperial Gold Cup – Jump – Afternoon – Turf
Friday 26th April 2019 – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Saturday 27th April 2019 – Gold Cup – Jump – Afternoon – Turf
Thursday 23rd May 2019 – Brigadier Gerard Stakes – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Thursday 30th May 2019 – Flat – Evening – Turf
Friday 14th June 2019 – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Saturday 15th June 2019 – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Friday 5th July 2019 – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Saturday 6th July 2019 – The Eclipse Stakes – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Wednesday 24th July 2019 – Flat – Evening – Turf
Thursday 25th July 2019 – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Wednesday 31st July 2019 – Flat – Evening – Turf
Thursday 8th August 2019 – Flat – Evening – Turf
Friday 30th August 2019 – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Saturday 31st August 2019 – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Friday 13th September 2019 – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Wednesday 18th September 2019 – Flat – Afternoon – Turf
Sunday 10th November 2019 – Jump – Afternoon – Turf
Friday 6th December 2019 – Jump – Afternoon – Turf
Saturday 7th December 2019 – Tingle Creek Chase – Jump – Afternoon – Turf
Sandown Race Course address and website
Sandown Park Racecourse, Portsmouth Road,
Esher, Surrey, KT10 9AJ, United Kingdom