Saturday, 18 July 2009

World's Weirdest Racetracks: #10

Thoroughbred racecourses have been used for any number of events over the years. Until the 1940s, football matches were frequently played at British racecourses. In Cup competitions small-town teams would take advantage of the existing large grandstand and even larger amount of quality lawn. The site of the world’s first International football match, the Racecourse Ground at Wrexham (Wales), was a regular venue for Cricket, Horse Racing, Association Football (Soccer) and Rugby in its early days.

To this day, several modes of racing are often conducted at the same track. In France, New Zealand and a few other countries it’s common for provincial tracks to host harness and thoroughbred racing on the same card.

Another combination is that of motorsports and horse racing. Aintree, site of the Grand National Steeplechase, is also home to some amateur motor racing. Dover Downs in Delaware would be a lock for a World’s Ugliest Raceways Top 10, but is ineligible for this list.

There are however two Southern Hemisphere racecourses that are host to both Thoroughbred and major-league Auto racing. One is Australia’s Sandown, by far the least important of Melbourne’s four designated metropolitan tracks, which also hosts races of the V8 Supercars series. The second one, host of the only V8 race in New Zealand, is the WWR #10.

Pukekohe Park is home to Counties Racing Club (which refers to Counties Manukau, a semi-official designation for the Southern part of Auckland Region). Its most important race is the G2 Counties Cup, held in late November. Due to its inside all-weather training course, Pukekohe also functions as one of New Zealand’s foremost training centers.

For the purposes of our Top 10, it gets the nod over Sandown because of the decidedly utilitarian appearance of the whole plant, with the pit lane area along most of the stretch and the infield training tracks as eyesores, compared to Sandown’s infield lake and meadows.

Being surrounded by an asphalt circuit, the racecourse at Pukekohe might not be the prettiest place to watch the ponies, but it definitely is a notable one.

("The racecourse must be somewhere around here"; Panoramio image by Rameez Saldin)


  1. I can already tell this list is going to be great. I'll look forward to each installment!

  2. Thanks.

    I hope I'll get it done on a one-post-per-day basis. Half of the chapters are already half-written, so I'm pretty confident.

  3. Sorry but I have to correct you, Aintree held the British grand prix back in the 1950's hardly amateur racing!
    John Loynes Worcester UK

  4. Dear Mr Loynes,

    You're most certainly right about that. I was referring to the current status, which is that Aintree is home to some amateur races (and one or more amateur racecar clubs, if memory serves). If we include former events, the matter does indeed get much more tricky, especially in the UK.