RACING returns to Chester Racecourse next week, with the famous Boodles May Festival.

And while racing will continue to be held behind closed doors, due to current Covid restrictions, the racecourse has plans in place for punters with a range of virtual events to be held throughout the meetings.

It had been hoped the racecourse could host the race meetings with a limited crowd, as part of a pilot sporting event, with everyone in attendance receiving Covid testing on the site. However, those plans failed to get the go-ahead from the Government.

The Boodles Festival was cancelled entirely last year because of the pandemic.

But from May 5-7, racing will return with owners on site, together with their jockeys and trainers.

The racing will be broadcast live on ITV4 and Sky Sports Racing, with daily chats with the jockeys, behind the scenes footage, daily tipping from Tote, the Boodles May Festival official betting partner, daily round-ups with racing professionals together and full reports on each of the day’s racing.

Andrew Morris, director of racing at Chester Race Company Ltd, said: “The Boodles May Festival is an incredibly important and popular date in the racing calendar. It would traditionally attract crowds of around 20,000 on each of the three days.

“We are delighted to be welcoming back owners and trainers to the Boodles May Festival after a two-year break. There will definitely be a very special atmosphere at the racecourse across the three days.

“It is of course unfortunate that we are not yet in a position where we can welcome back full crowds but we are promising all of our loyal visitors – and new ones too of course – a special virtual race day experience on each of the three days. This will ensure no-one misses out on the tremendous atmosphere which Chester Racecourse is so famous for.

“At the same time, we are all counting down the days to when crowds can once again be welcomed, hopefully at the end of June, providing the Government’s road map out of lockdown goes to plan.”

The Government’s proposed June 21 date for the end of all Covid-19 restrictions is perfectly timed with the start of the summer season at Chester – just days before Clogau Ladies Evening on Friday, June 25 and the Matthew Clark Summer Festival on Saturday, June 26.

Tickets are now on sale for both of these events and for the remainder of the racing season at Chester, which includes:

  • July 9: Ladies and Gents’ Evening
  • July 10: City Plate Day
  • August 21: Ladies Day
  • September 10: Autumn Festival Friday
  • September 11: Autumn Festival Saturday
  • September 25: Event name to be confirmed
  • October 2: Season Finale

There will be a variety of hospitality packages available throughout the season.

Racing started in Chester – the oldest operating racecourse in the world - on Shrove Tuesday in 1539 and in nearly 500 years there have only been three major stoppages; the English Civil War and the two World Wars. When racing was reinstated in 1946, the pent-up demand resulted in a record attendance of 103,993 racegoers on Cup Day.

Tickets for the 2021 season, which have been selling fast, are available from