Chester Racecourse is located in the city centre on an area of land between the city wall and the River Dee. This was the city's port from Roman times until the silting up of the river in the 18th century. Known as the Roodee, after the Saxon word "rood" or cross and the Norse word "eye" or island. In the centre of the racecourse stands the ramains of a stone cross.
Racing started in the 16th century as an alternative to the traditional Shrove Tuesday football match that had grown too violent. The first recorded horse race took place in 1539 on an open field. With the consent of Lord Mayer Henry Gee who is said to have given his name to the use of the term "gee gee" for horses.
It wasn't until 1817 when the first grandstand was built. That stand was rebuilt in 1899 and the present grandstand replaced it in 1988 after a fire. Charging for entry to the course didn't take place until 1839. The racecourse is the oldest course in Britain still running at it's original venue.
Today horse racing take place between May and October. The track is just over a mile long, flat, left handed (run counter clockwise) and features a very short straight. The racecourse has always hosted other events besides horse racing. In medieval times it held "The Midsummer Show", recently revived as the Midsummer Watch, with jugglers, minstrels and giants. And in 1903 it hosted Wild Bill Cody's Wild West Show.
Here is a selection of Chester racecourse photographs. Click on the thumbnails to see alarger version.