Chepstow Racecourse is located just outside the Welsh town of Chepstow, which is just a stone’s throw over the English border. Racing has taken place at Chepstow since the 1920’s and, though the earliest races were flat races, Chepstow has since become synonymous with National Hunt Racing. The course’s most famous race is the Welsh National, which has been run at Chepstow since 1949. Horses to have won the Welsh National twice are Limonali, Bonanza Boy and, most recently, Mountainous.
Below are some key facts about Chepstow Racecourse.
Course Type: Flat and Jumps
Current Owner: Arena Racing Company
Chepstow’s flat course is a left-handed oval-shaped track that measures about two-miles in length. The course is very undulating with a home straight measuring five-furlongs. The flat course also has a chute that allows all races from five furlongs up to a mile to be run on a straight course.
The flat track also stages the jumps racing, so the composition of the jumps track is identical. However, jumps races take place solely on the round course. The course has eleven fences on each circuit, with five of the fences positioned in the long home straight. This means horses still have a long way to get home from the final bend and, especially on soft or heavy ground, the emphasis is firmly on stamina. Many chasers run out of petrol up the home straight, whilst runners still have an agonizing 250-yards to run after jumping the last. However, when the ground rides fast, the downhill nature of the finish means horses can be travelling at high-speeds, putting more emphasis on jumping, especially the tricky final fence.
Chepstow Racecourse stages around 30 fixtures each year, though there’s little doubt the course is more synonymous with jumps racing than it is with flat racing. The National Hunt Season at Chepstow officially kicks-off in October with a meeting called the Jumps Season Open – Food & Countryside Sunday. The highlight of the meeting is the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle, which has been won by the likes of Monsignor, Silviniaco Conti, and Blaklion. The other big race on the card is the Silver Trophy, with subsequent Grand National hero Don’t Push It being the most famous winner.
However, the race that Chepstow is most famous for is the Welsh National. The race takes place over a stamina sapping 3 miles 5½ furlongs, which can ride a whole lot longer when the ground is heavy. The race has been won by some notable horses in recent years, that have gone on to glory in either the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the Grand National. This list of horses includes Native River, Synchronised, Bindaree, Silver Birch, and Master Oats. The race tends to favour horses that are lightly-weighted, with only classy types such as Native River and Synchronised carrying more than 10-10 between 2009 and 2018.
Chepstow’s aim is that all racegoers enjoy a fantastic time at the races, so there are a few dress code rules to consider if you’re going. If you have tickets to the Grandstand and Paddock Enclosure, the dress code is very relaxed, with tailored shorts, t-shirts and smart trainers very much the norm when the weather is warm. Unoffensive fancy dress costumes are also permitted.
However, if you have tickets for the Premier Enclosure and Hospitality Areas, you are expected to adhere to at least the smart-casual dress code. This includes formal dress shoes. Trainers, sandals, flip- flops, and canvas shoes are not permitted, and neither are football shirts, rugby shirts, or other forms of sportswear. Children under the age of 10 do not have to adhere to the dress code.
In 1933, the legendary flat jockey Sir Gordon Richards once managed to win 11 successive races at Chepstow during a two-day meeting.
Despite early financial difficulties, Chepstow Racecourse managed to stay open at a time when other horseracing courses ended up shutting in Wales. These courses included tracks at Brecon, Monmouth, Usk, Abergavenny, Tenby, St Arvans and the Ely Course in Cardiff, which just shows how different racing in Wales could have been.
Address and Contact Details
Chepstow Racecourse, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, NP16 6BE