Crafting The Perfect Track: The Role of Design In Horse Racing Facilities


There are few more attended sporting events across the world than horse racing, with thousands of fans attending the latest on-track action throughout the season.

Some of the biggest events on the calendar will also be staged at some of the most iconic tracks in the world, with these arenas likely having to ensure a more comfortable experience for the huge numbers that pass through the gates on a regular basis.

Nowadays, horse racing track designers are at the forefront of ensuring that all visitors to the sport can enjoy the best possible experience at the racing, but what are some of the most important factors to consider when it comes to building a state-of-the-art horse racing track?

Early History

The exact start of the design of horse racing facilities is difficult to pinpoint, as the sport is one of the oldest in the world. That is mirrored by the fact that horse racing action was staged regularly in Ancient Greece during the Olympic Games. However, it is clear to see that the success enjoyed from the designs of racing locations and courses have had a direct impact when it comes to the experience that visitors could expect to enjoy when visiting motorsports.

The world’s oldest racecourse is located in the United Kingdom, with Chester having hosted horse racing events since the 16th century. The Guinness Book of World Records respects Chester as the oldest venue for horse racing, with racing having been staged here since 1539. However, contrasting reports also claim that racing was first staged at the venue in 1512.

Grandstand Introduction Changed The Game

Nowadays, all major horse racing arenas across the world have massive grandstands for spectators to enjoy the live racing on track. However, it wasn’t until the 1750s when the first grandstand was constructed at a racetrack. It was the idea of York racetrack to construct the new viewing platform after enjoying massive crowds of visitors at the track during its August race week, which is now known as the iconic Ebor Festival.

It was a welcome idea for fans that visiting the track on a regular basis, with historians claiming that it was typically difficult to enjoy a day at the racing during this period given that thousands of fans from different walks of life were packed into small enclosures. Therefore, the decision to open a historic first grandstand in the world was finally revealed in December 1753.

Modern Feel To Racing Venues

The general look of racecourses hasn’t changed considerably since the 1840s, with this being the period when the decision was made by York to erect private boxes and hospitality suites for those looking to pay extra to attend the racing at the track. Once again, York was the pioneering course in this regard, and the success achieved led to many of the racecourses across the United Kingdom and Ireland following suit in the following years.


While the grandstands built in the 1700s did the job of housing fans at the racing, there were long-standing concerns revolving their safety. However, this changed in the 1900s when extra pressure was put on racecourses by governing bodies from across the world to enhance the safety that fans should have when attending the racing.

New-Look Iconic Venues

Racecourses are always looking at new ways to enhance the experience of the visitor, and that was echoed in 2015 when York took on their biggest redevelopment in generations. Among the changes made included the transformation of the paddock area, with a greater number of hospitality options also erected. It was during this time that many racecourses looked to enhance their hospitality options on offer, and it wasn’t only in the United Kingdom.

Churchill Downs will have a fresh feel to it when it welcomes fans for the 150th Derby in early May, as over $200 million has been spent by the course to enhance the experience of fans for the historic running of the Triple Crown race in North America. You can find more information here: 

The biggest transformation that fans should be braced for is the change to the paddock area, meaning that all visitors that pass through the gates will have an enhanced experience when it comes to looking at the runners before they take to the track.


Few sports have constantly evolved throughout time more so than horse racing, with major strides taken throughout history to ensure that all visitors can have the best possible experience when visiting the track.


Not only that, but the changes in the paddock areas at leading courses across the planet have ensured a greater level of safety for the horses that will be in action, with vets closer and water nearer to ensure that runners can get all the care that they need before and after competition.

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