Fakenham racecourse is situated just outside the town itself in the county of Norfolk and is just nine miles from the coast at Holkham.
The West Norfolk Hunt had been meeting in East Winch, near King’s Lynn, since 1884, but it was decided a track with lighter soil would be more suitable and so the meetings were transferred to Fakenham on Easter Monday of 1905. The first race in this year attracted 37 runners and a meeting was held there on Easter Monday every year, except for an enforced break during World War II. By the 1920s steeplechases had lessened in number and so in 1926 a hurdle race was introduced.
After the war, racing resumed in 1947 and a second raceday was added on Whitsun Bank Holiday Monday, the first race of which brought in 208 entrants for the 6 races. The original grandstand was constructed in 1953 with changes made to the paddock and Parade Ring was moved. Fakenham Racecourse Ltd was formed in 1965 and a sports centre including golf, tennis and squash facilities was constructed to benefit the local community and prevent the threat of closure. Annual fixtures then grew from two to five under the new regime.
Queen Elizabeth II visited the course in 2000, but unfortunately the races were called off due to bad conditions. In 2002 work was completed on a one million pound Members’ Stand named the ‘The Prince of Wales Stand’ and was opened by HRH Prince of Wales himself on March 15th 2002. The racecourse celebrated its centenary in 2005.
The Racing Season
Races are held at Fakenham throughout the year from January to December. There are nine National Hunt races in all including the traditional Easter Monday race and a Charity race in February. The course offers annual subscriptions so you are guaranteed not to miss out on a single race or reciprocal. A Single Annual Subscription is only £100, whereas a Double Annual Subscription is just £150. Both include free parking. The racecourse has a capacity of 14,000 and is often quite busy so you are advised to book tickets in advance, especially for the more popular races, such as on Easter Monday.
The racetrack is a left-handed undulating circuit that is almost square, with some sharp turns; it is best-suited to ‘nippy’ horses. The track is one mile long in total. Fakenham racecourse is very proud of its relaxed and welcoming tone and so there is no formal dress code. The racecourse is also home to a camping and caravan site, which is very popular with tourists.
Fakenham Racecourse Hospitality
The most popular of Fakenham’s restaurants is the Firth, which is located in the Prince of Wales stand and overlooks the circuit itself. It has a maximum capacity of 40 people and tables can be booked for the entire raceday for up to 8 people. There is also a Lobster and Oyster restaurant situated in the Parade Ring overlooking the racetrack. Advance bookings can be made. The Chase Bistro is the smallest of the three main restaurants and provides a lighter, cheaper option.
Admission to the course enclosure is just £7 and entrance to the Grandstand and Paddock is £12. Day member tickets cost £17 and all children under the age of 16 go free if they are accompanied by a full-paying adult. The fee is £8 per car for those parking in the Members’ Car Park; all other car parks are free.
- By road: The course can be reached by the A1 and A17 from the north; and the A1065 from the South. Take the A1067 from the East or the A148 from the West.
- By rail: Rail is not the best way to get to the racecourse unless you are being met by someone with a car, or prepared to pay for a taxi. The nearest railway stations are Sheringham (16.9 miles) and King’s Lynn (22 miles).
- By air: The nearest airport is at Norwich, but you can land on the course by helicopter if you have prior permission from the management.
Telephone 01328 862388