Tuesday 2 January 2024

Bangor on Dee Racecourse

 As a former photo club member, the subject matter for my photography was wide ranging to fit the monthly competition titles of Landscape, People, Man Made, Pictorial and Illustrative. For club competition purposes Illustrative includes sports and I've occasionally taken the opportunity to visit Bangor on Dee Racecourse near Wrexham in North Wales to capture some horse racing action. I'm not a betting man so my visits are concentrated solely on photography. 

Bangor on Dee is a lovely picturesque race course in the middle of the Welsh countryside with no ugly distractions intruding on your backgrounds. It's very visitor friendly and the entry fee to the open course is cheap whether you're a punter or enjoying the racing for your photography. 

Picnicing on the open course

Car parking is on a wide grassy bank above the open course and you park on the course for free and picnic while enjoying the action with views of the final fence and final hurdle, the finishing post and the first two fences of the course. Entrance to the paddock and parade ring is extra. For views of the furthest action with race commentary a large screen is provided on the inner course opposite the finishing post and the car parks. 

TV screen to follow the race action 

On my first visit to the course a few years ago the stewards on the course allowed me access to the final fence and final hurdle through to the finishing post and beyond to the first two fences covering around 15% of the course and there were plenty of amateur photographers on the course. This gave me the opportunity to capture some nice close up action but on my most recent visit in October 2023 for some unknown reason I was restricted to the first fence which was disappointing. I was the only photographer on the open course so I took some fill in shots using a long lens. The photographs are a mixture from both visits.

Report on the "going" by Sky Sports

On course "bookie"

A horse racing fan

From the parade ring to the course

On my first visit I was able to get very close, some 4 feet from the final fence and first two fences and the shots were taken using a Zeiss 12mm f2.8 Touit and a Samyang 8mm fisheye lens. The long shots of the hurdling on the inside track were taken with the Sony 70-200mm f4 lens and heavily cropped.

The final fence

The first fence

The final hurdle

Hurdle race to the finishing post

By the time of my recent visit in 2023 my camera gear had changed to the Sony A6700, Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 and the Sony 70-350mm f4.5-6.3. The A6700 has animal eye auto focus and I was using the new camera for the first time to capture action. No matter which camera you use the best settings are Aperture priority and a high enough ISO to freeze the action and this last image was taken with the A6700 and Sony 70-350mm lens. 

It would be a shame if photography on the course was now restricted so check with the course before visiting.

The gallop to the first fence