Racing has been at Sedgefield since at least 1732, but the first recorded meetings began in 1846. In 1804, an ancestor of the Earls of Durham, Ralph Lambton, formed a club based at the Hardwick Arms, and Sedgefield became the headquarters of the Ralph Lambton Hunt. Among the club’s original members were Ralph Brandling, then owner of Gosforth Park, and Robert Surtees, the father of Robert Smith Surtees, the author of Jorrocks.
The racecourse had experienced ups and downs and had almost reached its end multiple times. First, it was greatly improved with the leadership of Frank Scotto since 1977, but it was already rumored to be on the verge of closure. It survived due to the improvements, but it was again almost on its end after Scotto died. In 1999, a horrific incident in a novices’ chase occurred when three horses were killed after three riderless horses ran into the remainder of the field after running up the chase track the wrong way. The racecourse had just narrowly avoided closure for the third time that century when Northern Racing purchased it in 2001. They refurbished the Parade Ring/Winners Enclosure, upgraded the bars, eating areas, and the course’s drainage system.
It is located close to Sedgefield, County Durham, and five minutes from Junction 60 off the A1(M). It is also only twenty minutes from Teesside, Darlington, and Durham city center. It is owned by Arena Racing Company (formerly Northern Racing) and is one of the country’s friendliest racecourses. It operates 18 fixtures each year, with meetings occurring every month of the year, except June and July. It features the Durham National, a steeplechase run at an October meeting over the unusual distance of three and three-quarter miles.
The racecourse is 50 acres of grass and hard standing, bound by a secure perimeter with gate entry points, suitable for various outdoor events. It is exclusively for National Hunt, left-handed, undulating oval, and 1m2f circumference. The steeplechase course features eight fences, with an open ditch and a plain fence the two jumps in the home straight. The course also contains a consistent climb over the back, and this provides a sharp descent in the early part of the home straight. The hurdles course consists of five evenly distributed obstacles, two of which are in the home straight prior to the winning post. The course is home to some of the longest hurdles races in the UK, with some contests for the stayers that are just a little short of three-and-a-half miles long.
The Sea Merchant Fish Shop is situated in the Grandstand & Paddock area. The Bistro 1927 opened at the beginning of 2017 in honor of Sedgefield’s 90th Anniversary. The racetrack also offers a range of rooms equipped with the latest audiovisual equipment for corporate events, including conferences, exhibitions, meetings, and seminars. Free breakout rooms are available, together with free Wi-Fi access, free parking, and even free breakfast.