The Ultimate Guide to Chepstow Racecourse

Chepstow granstandChepstow Racecourse is situated on the outskirts of Chepstow, Monmouthshire, at the southern end of the Wye Valley, close to the Severn Bridge and the border with England. It lies on the A466, between Chepstow and Monmouth, 17 miles from Bristol and 28 miles from Cardiff. Chepstow Racecourse staged its first fixture in 1926 and, despite early financial problems, managed to survive where many Welsh racecourses did not. Indeed, following the closure of Caerleon Racecourse, in 1948, the Welsh National was transferred to Chepstow and more or less secured the future of the racecourse. Today, Chepstow stages a total of 24 Flat and National Hunt fixtures throughout the year.

Chepstow offers a choice of the Premier Enclosure or the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure, with admission prices ranging from £37 in the Premier Enclosure on Coral Welsh National day to £16 in the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure for a “Standard” weekday fixture. Concessions are available for advanced bookings, senior citizens and students and admission is free from accompanied children in both enclosures.

For corporate events, including not only conferences, exhibitions and meetings, but also training and recruitment events, Chepstow Racecourse offers a range of flexible indoor and outdoor spaces, capable of accommodating up to 10,000 people. Conference and meeting rooms, with free Wi-Fi, are available for gatherings of up to 300 people, while for larger gatherings two indoor exhibition halls plus many acres of outdoor space are available. The perimeter of the racecourse is secure and car parking is free.

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Getting there

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What's unique about the course at Chepstow?

chepstow guide
The round course at Chepstow is a left-handed oval, approximately two miles around and essentially galloping in character, despite pronounced undulations. The round course generally runs downhill until the start of the five furlong straight, where it runs uphill for over two furlongs before levelling out. Races up to a mile are run on a straight mile course. Over Jumps, there are 11 fences per circuit and, with five fences in the straight, front runners typically do well. The soil at Chepstow is clay loam so, despite work done to improve drainage, conditions can become very testing when the going is softer than good.

Notable Races and Events

SynchronisedIn the autumn of 1933, Sir Gordon Richards, arguably the most successful jockey in racing history with 4,870 career wins, rode 11 consecutive winners, over two days, at Chepstow. Sir Gordon rode 10 favourites and one second favourite in his record-breaking haul and, ironically, was beaten a head and a neck on his twelfth mount, Eagleray, whose starting price of 1/3 was the shortest of the meeting.

The principal race on the Chepstow calendar is the Welsh National, a handicap steeplechase run over 3 miles 5½ furlongs in December each year, worth £51,255 to the winner. The Welsh National is a prestigious and valuable race in its own right, but also a recognised trial for both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. In 1982, Jenny Pitman saddled Corbiere to win the Welsh National and the Grand National in the same season and Nigel Twiston-Davies repeated the feat in 2002. In 1983, Jenny Pitman also saddled Burrough Hill Lad to win the Welsh National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season and in 2010 Jonjo O'Neill did likewise with the ill-fated Synchronised.

David “Duke” Nicholson, who went on to ride 583 winners, including Mill House in the 1967 Whitbread Gold Cup, was successful on his first ride over jumps at Chepstow in 1955. He won on Fairval, trained by his father, Herbert “Frenchie” Nicholson, as a 16-year-old and further made a name for himself by winning the Welsh National for three years running between 1959 and 1961 on Limonali and Clover Bud.

Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers

ProbertOn the Flat at Chepstow, David Probert is the leading jockey during the last five seasons with 21 winners from 133 rides, although Cathy Gannon, with 18 wins from 121 rides, has also enjoyed plenty of success in the same period. Richard Hannon and Andrew Balding have both trained 14 winners at Chepstow during the last five seasons, although Richard Hannon has needed 99 runners to achieve that total, whereas Andrew Balding has needed just 59. Bernard Llewellyn is the leading owner with 7 winners from 35 runners, just one ahead of Sheikh Mohammed with 6 winners from 20 runners.

Over Jumps, Richard Johnson heads the jockeys' table with 26 winners from 147 rides, Paul Nicholls is the leading trainer with 38 winners from 195 runners and J.P. McManus is, by far, the leading owner with 12 winners from 102 runners. It's worth noting, however, that Richard Johnson has had nearly twice as many rides at Chepstow during the last five seasons than any other jockey and J.P. McManus has had more than twice as many runners as any other owner.

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