New to Racing Guide

All you need to know ahead of your first time at the races

There's nothing like a day at the races for excitement, thrills and quality entertainment. Please remember to book ahead if you want to dine in one of our restaurants.

First time coming racing? Visit Racing Explained for an introductory guide. There is also an app for Android and iPhone which can help you get the most from your day.

What to take…

  • Cash – most bookmakers only accept bets of £5 or more, though the Tote will take bets from £2 which you can pay by credit or debit card.
  • Your racecard – all you need to know plus features and tips for £3 (please note certain hospitality and restaurant packages already include these).
  • Camera – don't forget to disable the flash so you don't upset the horses.
  • Binoculars – bring your own to catch all the action or hire them at the course.
  • You'll enjoy your day more if you know a little bit about betting and horses. 

When you are here… Arriving

The start of the first race will vary from meeting to meeting and the main entrances all open 2 hours prior to the first race. The closer to the start that you arrive, the busier the traffic will be, so aim to arrive at least an hour and a half beforehand. This will give you time to understand the racecourse layout and check out facilities. For more information for those coming by public transport please see our 'Finding Us' Page.

For what to wear visit our Dress Code page for all your raceday fashion tips!

The Paddock

The paddock is the overall name for the area containing the Parade Ring and Weighing room. The raceday takes place in a number of half hour cycles. This begins in the parade ring about 20 minutes before the first race, when the runners will be taken into the parade ring to warm up. It’s worth watching this to get a first impression of the horses before they proceed out onto the course. Entry into the parade ring is limited to sponsors, owners, trainers and jockeys but you will find ample vantage points all around.

The run up to the race

About five minutes before the race, the horses leave the parade ring to canter down to the start. If it is a flat race, they will take a few minutes to be loaded into their starting stalls. Canny racegoers will have already left the paddock to place their bets (either in the Bookies Betting Ring situated in our Tattersalls Enclosure or with Betfred or the tote) and secure a good view on the track. Allow 5 to 10 minutes to do both; don’t leave it too late as bets cannot be taken once the race starts. Check with several bookmakers as some may offer better odds for your horse.

Between races you may wish to buy a drink or snack, but so will everyone else, so please be patient. All enclosures have refreshment areas and TV screens so no-one will miss the action!

The prize giving

The race result is not official until you have heard the announcement ‘Weighed In”. Until then, you cannot collect any winning bets. There is no need to worry; winning tickets can be redeemed anytime during that day.

The first four placed horses return to the Winner’s Enclosure within the Parade Ring and are unsaddled. A brief prize giving takes place between the race sponsors and the winning connections, which is well worth watching, not only may you spot some famous faces, but as a courtesy to the race sponsor. Meanwhile, runners for the next race start to arrive in the Parade Ring and the whole cycle starts again.

Going home

Inevitably, with everyone trying to go home at once, queuing in car parks will occur. Please be patient whilst the traffic filters off site. Exits to the course are from the main driveway and from the opposite end of the course (The Golborne Gates). No traffic will be allowed down the main driveway from the last race for one hour and the top of the driveway is policed during this time, so if you have ordered taxi’s please be aware of this.

We hope that this has helped you in planning your perfect visit to Haydock Park Racecourse and we look forward to welcoming you.

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