Which British racecourse has the longest circuit?
The British racecourse with the longest, uninterrupted circuit is Pontefract in West Yorkshire. Pontefract, which has no straight course, is a left-handed, undulating oval, 2 miles and 125 yards in circumference. Pontefract was established in 1790, but has undergone major redevelopment more than once in its history. As far as the layout of the course is concerned, in April, 1983, the original horseshoe, approximately a mile and a half in extent, was extended to form a complete oval, with no gaps or chutes.
Indeed, Pontefract now stages the aptly-named Pontefract Marathon Handicap, over a distance of 2 miles 5 furlongs and 139 yards, in April each year. The longest Flat handicap run in Britain, the Pontefract Marathon Handicap is just four yards shorter than the Queen Alexandra Stakes, a condition stakes race run at Royal Ascot, which has the distinction of being the longest Flat race run under rules not only in Britain, but anywhere in the world.
With pronounced undulations and a sharp turn into the home straight, which is only two furlongs long, Pontefract Racecourse can hardly be described as ‘galloping’. However, the last three-quarters of a mile is essentially uphill, steeply so for the final three furlongs, so the emphasis is very much on stamina. Sprint races are run around a left-hand bend, but any draw bias in these races is minimal.