Sports travel blog

Guide to sports travel and hotel accommodation

Newmarket Champion Stakes: Flat racing at its best

Posted in  Horse Racing by Vincent on the July 26th, 2010
Newmarket Racecourses, the home of flat racing

Newmarket Racecourses, the home of flat racing, is one of the most famous racecourses in the world. It holds many Group One races, the most prestigious races in the sport. The course itself actually consists of two different tracks, the Rowley Mile, used in spring and autumn, and the July Course, used, as the name suggests, in summer. Newmarket is a special place to visit for any race, let alone the Champion Stakes, one of the leading autumn races in the UK. First run in 1877 at the Rowley Mile over 1 mile and 2 furlongs, it is open to fillies and mares over three years old. This year’s race, on October 16, is particularly worth seeing, as it is your last chance to see the race at its spiritual home: it is due to switch to Ascot from next year.

Where to stay

Originally a Georgian hunting lodge built for the Duke of Bedford in the 18th Century, Bedford Lodge Hotel was converted into a luxury hotel in the 1940s. It was named Suffolk Hotel of the Year 2006-07, and it is easy to see why. Set in three acres of beautiful rose gardens but just a 10-minute walk from Newmarket, it marries contemporary luxury with traditional charm. There is a gym and pool, an excellent restaurant and free wi-fi.

Just outside Newmarket, in the hamlet of Saxon Street, is The Reindeer, Cheveley, a stylishly finished, surprisingly modern hotel. The quality of its food is excellent.

Newmarket is quite an expensive place to stay, but there are a few more affordable options around. The Black Horse Motel, in the village of Swaffham four miles outside Newmarket, offers rooms in a converted stable block. They are fairly basic, but include a colour TV, central heating and tea and coffee facilities, as well as a full English breakfast. The historic university town of Cambridge, well worth visiting, is just a 10-minute drive away.

The Cadogan Hotel Newmarket is a cosy family-run hotel which was recently upgraded from 2 star to 3 star by the AA. All 12 en-suite rooms come with a TV, hospitality tray, hairdryer and ironing facilities. Free wireless internet is available throughout the hotel. There are no leisure facilities on site, but guests can use the facilities of a local hotel for an additional charge.

How to get there

The majority of racegoers travel to Newmarket by road. As such, the immediate environs of the town itself become rammed with cars in the hours before the first race. Road diversions will be in place, attempting to take you around the town, but you are best advised to ignore them and continue through the centre – it is far quicker. The Rowley mile is clearly signposted.

It is also possible to reach Newmarket by public transport. Regular rail services run from London Kings Cross and Liverpool Street to Cambridge, Stansted Airport and Ipswich, where onward connections by rail, bus or road can be made, for example by picking up a taxi or hopping on one of the Newmarket-operated return coach services from Cambridge train station (which also operate from the Robin Hood pub at Cherry Hinton).

There are, of course, a large number of taxi firms operating in Cambridge and Newmarket.

The Newmarket Champions

Posted in  Horse Racing by Paul on the August 25th, 2009

newmarket-championsThe Newmarket Champions is one of the highest classes of racing that is staged in the entire year in the United Kingdom. This two day event showcases the best racing anyone can witness, food that will send your stomach to heaven and an opportunity to place bets against the best and brightest. This event was the host for the amazing feats of Further Flight and Persian Punch; the former dominating the event in the early 1990′s and the latter defying both the odds and the test of time by winning the race at ages eight, nine and ten. During the Champions, you will have a mixture of races that show case from the young and upstart horses to the top breeds that you could see winning many championship crowns and titles.

Where To Stay

The closest hotel to the racecourse is the Rutland Arms Hotel, located in the center of Newmarket. With a laundry service while you’re at the track ,  award-winning food, and the  Newmarket less than two miles away, the Rutland Arms is an excellent option if you’re interested in convenience. If you prefer to find a place to rack up rewards programs, then the Best Western Heath Court will be your choice. It offers the same service you expect and receive from other Best Western hotels and is a good place to hold your next conference. The ultimate in luxury can be found at the Bedford Lodge Hotel, Leisure and Restaurant. The only four star hotel located in Newmarket, it offers a feel of a modern hotel in a setting of the Victorian age.

How To Get There

The location of the racecourse is in Newmarket, which is centered between Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. It is situated 12 miles from Cambridge and about 60 miles away from London. The main two roads you can use to get to the course is the A 4 from east to west and the A11 from north to south. Several major roads connect to them, such as the A1/M1. If you wish to go by rail, you can go from, lets say, London or Liverpool and reach Cambridge; later you will take more trains or vehicles to reach Newmarket. Taxis will be able to take you to the racecourse; you can either flag one on the street or have one hired for you before you get there. During racedays, there are hired coaches that can take you to and from the racecourse for a small fee.

If you want to fly instead of driving, the Stansted Airport is about 45 minutes away from the racecourse. Regardless of how you get there, there will be two colored markers. The markers will show you which racecourse you will need to head to: red for the July Racecourse and blue for the Rowley Mile Racecourse.

Ayr Racecourse

Posted in  Horse Racing by Paul on the August 13th, 2009

ayrAyr Racecourse is the only racecourse in Scotland that is rated Grade One. In the surrounding area, you can enjoy the beaches at the Ayrshire coastline and can also have a few rounds on the local golf courses. The area is also known for the Robert Burns pilgrims. While there are events year round for either flat racing or horse jumping, the famous events at Ayr happen during the summer months. The Scottish National in April is the major jump event of its kind; the Scottish Derby in July and the Ayr Gold Cup in September are the key flat racing events in Scotland. For the yearly schedule, May to October has flat racing while the rest of the year has jump racing.

Where To Stay

For the longer events, or for just wanting to make a holiday in Ayr (or Scotland in general), there are at least 14 hotels that are within a mile of the racecourse. The closest to the racecourse is the Western House Hotel, which is 0.3 miles from Ayr. The Victorian style hotel offers not only location, but also 24 hour reception, Internet access and even currency exchange for those coming from other countries. If you want to be close to town, the Swallow Station Hotel in the center of Ayr is your best bet. The oldest hotel in Ayr, it offers 73 rooms and opportunities to pick up gifts for friends and loved ones back home. If a bed and breakfast is more of your style, the Kilkerran Guest House will be suited for you. It is run by a family and offers close location to local airports and personalized Scottish hospitality.

How To Get There

There are several ways to reach the racecourse; by air, land or rail. To reach it by car, the main road that you will need to find and get on is the A77. If you happen to come from the direction of Glasgow, you will need to take the M8, then jump on the A77. If you are heading from the south, you will have more roads to deal with. You first must get on the A74, then later the A70. You will need to get on the A713 before you even can reach the A77. The racecourse is hard to miss and can be reached from a dual carriageway. By rail, just head towards the Ayr rail station and take buses to the racecourse. Glasgow Prestwick airport is not that far from the course (approx 15 minutes), but if you plan to land at the racecourse itself, you can only do it with prior arrangements. Glasgow airport is about 45 minutes away from Ayr.

Doncaster – St Leger Meeting

Posted in  Horse Racing by Paul on the July 29th, 2009

doncasterFans of horseracing should not miss the opening day of the 2009 Ladbrokes St. Leger Festival September 9th. First held in 1776, this is the oldest of the British Classic races and it is the last leg of the Triple Crown. The Doncaster Racecourse is located in the heart of England, and is steeped in racing history.

How To Get There

It is easy to reach the track by train, as it is just 2.5 miles from Doncaster Station on the main London-Edinburgh line and a shuttle bus is generally available to take race fans straight to the track. The new Robin Hood International Airport is less than seven miles away, and Doncaster is within easy reach of the Manchester, Leeds, and East Midlands airports as well due to its proximity to the motorways. The track will also accommodate helicopters, but you will need to call ahead for permission.

Where To Stay

Of course, you could eliminate race day traffic by staying within walking distance at the Grand St Leger Hotel next to the track. The hotel has been carefully restored to offer modern accommodations for traditional tastes. Meet horseracing fans at the Paddock bar, or dine in intimate surroundings at Carrington’s Restaurant. Just a few more paces away is the Earl of Doncaster Hotel, recently renovated with its original Art Deco features preserved. The stylish hotel offers free parking and several new executive rooms. Located just half a mile from both downtown and the racetrack, this is a convenient location to enjoy your stay in Doncaster.

Enjoy a rapidly growing area of Doncaster and stay in the midst of shops, restaurants, pubs, and nightlife at the Sleep Inn. This newly built hotel is tastefully decorated with spacious rooms equipped with cable TV and computer hook-ups at a great value. The Regent Hotel is a more traditional English hotel. Housed in a charming Victorian building, this family-run hotel overlooks a secluded Regency park and is still close to the city center. The attentive staff will ensure you have a peaceful stay.

Well worth the 4 mile drive is the Old Rectory Guest House. This 400 year-old Elizabethan house has been awarded 4 stars for it luxurious bed and breakfast service. Nestled on over an acre of landscaped gardens, you will enjoy an elegant, comfortable, and very English stay without giving up modern conveniences like WiFi. The staff will attend to all your needs, and even make you a packed lunch if you like. Enjoy the English hospitality of Doncaster, whatever your tastes might be.

Hotels near Sandown Park

Posted in  Horse Racing by Paul on the July 5th, 2009

209789_horse_and_jockyWith spectacular views of Heathrow and London, Sandown Park is a racecourse and leisure facility in Surrey, England. It hosts the Eclipse Stakes a group 1 flat race, as well as multiple other horse races on weekends. There are also toy fairs, car shows, golf courses, and a go-cart track, among other sports and activities available. Many people host their wedding reception here.

Open to thoroughbreds which are three-years-old or above, the Eclipse Meeting has a lot to offer guests and fans. The event is named after the eighteenth century racehorse Eclipse, and was first run in 1886. A popular attraction for both riders and fans, the Coral-Eclipse day is among the best flat racing events in the world. It’s a prestigious and luxurious event that takes place each year in the summer.

Sandown is in the beautiful park area of the town of Esher. Travel options to the park are convenient and plentiful. Along the M25, it is less than thirty minutes from Waterloo by rail. If you are coming by train from Waterloo or Clapham, arrive at Esher station. From here you can take a taxi or a free bus to Sandown Park.

The Sandown Park Lodge is highly recommended for your accommodation needs. This is an on-site hotel, right next to the Sandown Park Racecourse. You can walk within minutes to the track’s main entrance. This hotel has 21 rooms, and a lot of convenient parking available, but rooms do book quickly. Some of the rooms overlook the pre-parade ring and some overlook the stables as well. If you are booking on the weekend, there are special rates you may want to look into.

Other options in the area include bed and breakfasts, and luxury hotels. Check out the Pennyhill Park Hotel and Country Club. It’s an English manor house which has been converted into a first class-traditional hotel. The estate is located on 120 acres of beautiful land in a perfect location close to London, in Bagshot.

If you’re more interested in a quaint guesthouse, bed and breakfast style, check out the Abeille Guest House, in Guildford, Surrey. It’s a Victorian home, converted into a bed and breakfast, mini-hotel, which is conveniently located near the town and stations. A full English breakfast is served by the owners every morning, and there is free TV, Wi-Fi and coffee all year-round.

Epsom Downs – The Derby Meeting: Where You Should Stay

Posted in  Horse Racing by Paul on the June 19th, 2009

747928_jockeyIt’s known as a difficult and undulating course and it poses a serious challenge to amateur horses and riders. Fifty-percent longer than the 2,000 Guineas Stakes, the Epsom Downs racecourse has been run since 1780, and is the most prestigious, and wealthiest, horse race is England.

The race has inspired many State-side competitions to take the name Derby. The most famous is the Kentucky Derby, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky. Although the start of the Epsom Derby has been changed multiple times, it currently takes place between Epsom, Tadworth, and Langly Vale. Because the course goes through public areas, spectators can watch the Derby for free along much of the track. This has made it increasingly difficult to actually watch the race freely with so many people vying for good view.

There are many other events at the Epsom Downs throughout the year besides the Derby Festival. There are also other races throughout the year, as well as the popular Live! Music Nights. This year the Derby Festival is sponsored by the leading specialist bank Investec, following an almost 38 million pound redevelopment program.

The Epsom downs is a grade-one racecourse available by rail and road. Both Heathrow Airport and Gatwick airport are approximately 23 miles from the track. From either airport you can use the underground, taxis, or rent a car. There are plenty of signs marking a path to the Derby Festival during the racing season.

There are multiple car parks near the Epsom Downs racetrack. Most maps of the Epsom Downs area will provide you with many car park options. If you are traveling by train, you can arrive at either the Epsom Downs station, or the Tattenham Corner station. From the Epsom Downs station, it’s approximately a Kilometer. From Tattenham, it’s around a half kilometer. Both stations offer taxi services to bring you to the events.

It’s recommended to share a car to the Derby events. If you are driving and have extra room in the car, or if you need a spot in someone else’s, you can sign up on www.surreycarshare.com. It’s easy to car share, and saves on gas, time, and ultimately money.

There are many quality hotels in Epsom, Surrey. Options include the Chalk Lane Hotel. This hotel is in a quiet part of Epsom, and features two restaurants and lies between the Derby tracks and the Epsom town center. It’s conveniently located off the M25, equidistant to both Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

One further recommendation is the Nonsuch Park Hotel. This hotel is directly across from the historic Nonsuch Park, and is an attractive, family-owned accommodation. It is both luxurious and affordable, with a stunning restaurant and a comfortable atmosphere.

Accommodation for Royal Ascot near Windsor

Posted in  Horse Racing by Paul on the June 17th, 2009

647934_the_raceHosting nine of the United Kingdom’s thirty-two annual Group 1 races, the Royal Ascot Racecourse is prestigious track located in the village of Ascot, Berkshire. Only six miles from Windsor Castle, the Ascot Racecourse is closely associated with the British Royal Family. It was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, and since 1813 when Parliament passed an act, it has remained a public racetrack, and has become a very popular venue for tourism.

The Royal Ascot events sell out quickly. You can book tickets online at ascot.co.uk or by calling the Ascot center personally. You can even book groups using the group booking form on their web site. Children are welcome at the Ascot racecourse, and children under the age of 16 are admitted free. Seating is generally first come first served for the Concourse Level and 4th Level of the Grandstand.

Like most other elite racecourses, there is a dress code that guests should be aware of. The Ascot web site says fans should wear “smart” attire, no ripped jeans, shorts, or sportswear. Fancy clothes and dresses are welcome as well.

Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Party usually attend every day of the Royal Ascot races. The Royal procession takes place before the races each day, at around 2:00 p.m. Before the races start you can make bets at any tote-pool counters located inside the facilities. There are even betting shops at the concourse level, and bookmakers are located in front of Silver Ring areas and Grandstand Admission.

The Ascot Racecourse is located in the pristine woods alongside the Windsor Great Park and it’s about 50 minutes from Central London. Ascot is easily accessed by most major motor-ways and is close to London Heathrow airport. Using trains to get to Ascot is easy, as there is a frequent service to the racecourse from Reading (about 30 minutes) and Waterloo (about 50 minutes).

Windsor is to the west of London, and easily accessible from Train, Bus, Car, or Taxi. Access is convenient from M3, M4, M25 and M40. London and Gatwick airports are under an hour’s drive, and Heathrow is just 15 minutes away. Car parking is available at Ascot for about 16 pounds.

In the Windsor area you can visit Windsor Castle, watch the changing of the guard, or visit the Savill Garden. There are plenty of accommodation options available in the Windsor area including Bed and Breakfasts, Guest Houses, and Hotels. The Tun Cottage is a four star, beautiful country home converted into a bed and breakfast. It’s close to both Ascot and Windsor, and the nightly rates are reasonable, at around 60 pounds a night. There are only three spacious bedrooms here, but if you book early you may be able to reserve one now.

If you are looking for an elegant hotel near the Ascot, try the Coppid Beech hotel. This is one of the best four star hotels available in the area. Elegant architecture, spacious bedrooms and gourmet food put this hotel in high demand.

John Smith’s Northumberland Plate Meeting, Newcastle

Posted in  Horse Racing by Paul on the June 16th, 2009

183381_point_to_point_racing_1The Newcastle racecourse hosts both hunt and flat races throughout the year, but the biggest competition is the Northumberland Plate which is held every year in June. Some refer to it as the Pitman’s Derby, and other’s just call it “The Plate”. The track is 2 miles long and flat.

It was first run way back in 1833, where local mining families could enjoy a brief holiday. The course today houses a Premier enclosure called the Branding House, as well as The Grandstand and Paddock. The Branding House facilities have bars and restaurants, with outside seating areas, and a cocktail lounge. The Grandstand and Paddock house bars and food outlets as well. Both have viewing terraces

There is an all inclusive hospitality package that includes Premier Enclosure Admission, race cards, 3 course luncheon, tea, and unlimited beer, wine, and soft drinks. Like most other elite racecourses, there is a dress code that guests should be aware of. The Newcastle web site says fans should wear “smart” attire, no ripped jeans, shorts, or sportswear. Fancy clothes and dresses are welcome as well.

There are multiple betting facilities available inside most of the main buildings, and close to the racetracks, but alcohol is not allowed in betting areas. No alcohol can be taken in to the actual racecourse and only alcohol that was bought at the Northumberland Plate is allowed on the premises.

Getting to the Northumberland Plate in Newcastle, England is easy by car, taxi, and public transport. There are free shuttle busses from the nearby stations, Four Lane Ends and Regent Centre. Many busses run to the track and stop directly across from the Newcastle racecourse. Taxi’s can use the west entrance and cost about fifteen pounds. Driving to the station by car is also an option. Guests can park at the east entrance for general admission, or the west entrance for hospitality guests. There are a total of twelve thousand free parking spots available.

If you are like me and want the best quality for the lowest cost, check out the Caledonian Hotel. Reasonable rates here will get you a perfect location, with spacious rooms, beautiful architecture and fully equipped TV and wifi. The hotel also offers a wide range of dining options and a bistro along with the happening Billabong Bar.

If you are looking for something a little more ritzy, you may enjoy the Hardwick Hall Hotel. Built in the 1700s, this giant manor is located in the popular Hardwick Hall County Park. This hotel is worth it just for the night lights that illuminate the regal architecture after dark.

Concert @ Doncaster Racecourse

Posted in  Horse Racing by Alex on the June 2nd, 2009

Our friends at Doncaster racecourse are hosting a music festival this weekend, June 5th and 6th, around the theme of 80′s pop. Being 80′s fans make us want to go! Here is the press release containing all the information …

ORIGINAL 80’S CHART-TOPPERS ‘LIVE’ IN CONCERT AT DONCASTER ON FRIDAY EVENING FOLLOWED BY SATURDAY AFTERNOON ‘DERBY DAY’ ON TOWN MOOR

Doncaster Racecourse will see all of the action this Friday evening and Saturday afternoon (June 5 & 6), with the fantastic ‘Here & Now’ ‘live’ 80’s Concert after racing on Friday, featuring a host of the original artists from the music scene of that era in an open-air concert, while on Saturday, race-goers can enjoy the build-up to the Investec Derby at Epsom with a quality programme on Town Moor, featuring a pair of £25,000 races.

Friday evening sees the first of three brilliant live open-air concerts being held this summer at Doncaster, and when racing finishes at 8-45 p.m., that’s the signal for the music to begin. A star-studded line-up includes Paul Young, Midge Ure, Kim Wilde, Belinda Carlisle, Curiosity Killed The Cat and Kid Creole & The Coconuts.

For those coming in their best 80’s-themed outfits, there are five pairs of tickets to be won to the R’n’B Music Night on Saturday, June 27th in a special competition to impress the judges and the chance to meet the artists in person on Friday night!

Racing on Friday evening begins at 6-05 p.m. and the fully-sponsored card is sponsored by companies in association with Construction Index – Autec Construction Training, Total Reclaims Demolition, Replas Concrete Repair and Multifab Metals Engineering & Fabrication.

The action on Saturday is set to start at 2-05 p.m. Regular sponsors, Society Lifestyle & Leisure Magazine and Moss Properties each support a race, while The Doncaster Exhibition Centre Handicap Stakes (for three-year-olds over the straight mile) and The Lincoln Restaurant Fillies’ Handicap Stakes (extended mile and a quarter) are also featured.

There’s a 35-minute gap between the fourth and fifth races, so that race-goers can see the Investec Derby from Epsom, which is due off at 3-45 p.m.

There’s free entertainment for youngsters on Derby Day in the Family Enclosure, including a bouncy castle, face-painting and football skills. Mini-workshops with the ‘Doncaster Rovers in the Community’ team.

A giant screen situated opposite the main stands will enable race-goers to see all of the action. For those wishing to leave their cars at home. A regular shuttle bus service run by First will be in operation from the railway station (£2 return).


Contact:  SHARON BENNETT (Marketing & PR Manager) tel No: 01302 304200

Down Royal Racecourse

Posted in  Horse Racing by admin on the June 17th, 2008

Down Royal racecourse in Northern Ireland is the most recent horse racing venue to add the MATCHhotels.com hotel search map to their website.

When buying tickets to visit Down Royal, race-goers can click through from the Fixtures page to a new hotel page where a map shows the location of the course and local hotels. Race-goers enter their travel dates to find available accommodation and book online.

This is the new hotel page at www.DownRoyal.com/hotels/

Down Royal hotel page