Fakenham Racecourse, The Racecourse, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 7NY
Tel: 01328 862 388
The first meeting at the course in 1905 attracted 37 runners and considering the travelling difficulties in those days, confirmed the excellent local support for the transfer to Fakenham. Just the one meeting per year was held on Easter Monday with racing continuing every year except for enforced breaks during war years.
In 1926, there was the introduction of a hurdle race as the steeplechase races had dwindled in numbers. The three mile steeplechase in those days started in the fields adjoining the Fakenham-Dereham road before joining and finishing on the racecourse proper!
After the 1939/45 war, racing resumed in 1947 and in addition to the Easter meeting there was now a second meeting allotted on Whitsun Bank Holiday Monday for which success was assured with no fewer than 208 entries for the six races.
1965, saw the formation of Fakenham Racecourse Ltd, to continue to qualify for Levy Board support and fundamental to surviving the threat of closure. The financial support was enhanced when part of the racecourse was leased to develop a sports centre to include a golf course together with tennis and squash courts for the benefit of the local community with improved facilities at the racecourse.
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, often described as National Hunt’s most fervent, enthusiastic and loyal supporter, visited Fakenham racecourse in January 2000, making the short trip from Sandringham.
Sadly, the day’s racing fell victim to the weather but her visit, including lunch, still took place. It was a memorable day for the racecourse and the Chairman of the racecourse, at the time, Andrew Don reflected a true local view in a tribute on the news of the death of the Queen Mother in 2002. ‘We think the Queen Mother had a soft spot for us at Fakenham and we treasure the memory of her last visit here during her 100th year’.
In today’s market, sponsorship and media rights income now contribute substantially to the overall budget and for Fakenham to have prospered, especially during the last forty years in the ever changing commercial environment is a great testimony to all those who have played their individual parts.