Located close to Lambourn on the M4 corridor, with direct rail links to London, and just an hour’s drive from Heathrow Airport, it’s easy to see why Newbury Racecourse has established itself as one of the UK’s premier dual-purpose racecourses.
Both the flat and national hunt tracks are very fair, whilst the ground here rarely gets as bad as at some other tracks, two reasons why it’s a popular destination with trainers under both codes up and down the country.
Because of its popularity, Newbury hosts many prestigious races, with the highlight of the flat season being the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes. Meanwhile, the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup) and the Betfair Hurdle are the course’s flagship events over jumps.
The course also boasts fantastic facilities, including grandstands, restaurants, and a Royal Box, which also means it is a popular venue for corporate events and exhibitions, as well as private functions and weddings.
Below are some key facts about the Newbury racecourse:
Course Type: Flat and Jumps
Current Owner: Newbury Racecourse Company
Both the flat and jumps courses at Newbury Racecourse galloping, flat and left-handed. They are also considered amongst the fairest you’ll find anywhere in the world. The flat course measures just under two-miles in length, with a straight that measures around five furlongs. However, races between five furlongs and a mile take place on the straight course, courtesy of chute. There does not appear to be much draw bias at Newbury, and the action often unfolds down the middle of the course on the straight track. The course suits long-striding types, with the long straight putting an emphasis on stamina, especially when the ground rides soft or heavy.
On the jumps track, front runners that can run a well-paced race can often be at an advantage. However, it’s impossible to last home if they go too fast. Long-striding types are definitely at an advantage here, and those that witnessed Denman win the Hennessy twice here will remember how he ground his opponents into submission. The fences are quite big but very fair, which is why the course often attracts the best novice chasers to its early-season jumps meetings.
The flat season kicks-off with a trio of Group 3 Races in April, with the John Porter Stakes named after the trainer that proposed the building of Newbury Racecourse. Notable winners include Harbinger and Defoe. The course also stages the Fred Darlings Stakes and the Greenham Stakes, two recognised Guineas Trials. Salsabil and Bosra Sham are two notable winners of the Fred Darling, whilst Mill Reef, Celtic Swing, and Frankel all won the Greenham Stakes.
The Lockinge Stakes takes place in May and is traditionally the first Group 1 race of the season that is restricted to horses aged four and older. Equine stars such as Mill Reef, Selkirk, Soviet Line, Hawk Wing, Rakti, Canford Cliffs, and Frankel have all got their name on the trophy.
Other notable group races run at Newbury include the Hackwood Stakes, Geoffrey Freer Stakes, Hungerford Stakes, and St Simon Stakes. It also stages two prestigious races for two-year-olds, the Mill Reef Stakes and the Horris Hill Stakes.
For many years, Newbury staged its three-day Hennessy Gold Cup Meeting, which was one of the longest-running sponsorship deals ever. However, when Hennessy ended their sponsorship, this meeting became known as The Ladbrokes Winter Festival in 2017, with the Hennessy Gold Cup becoming the Ladbrokes Trophy. The meeting incorporates races such as the Gerry Fielden Hurdle and the John Francome Novices’ Chase. The second biggest race of the meetings is the Long Distance Hurdle, a race that is one of the major trials for the Stayers’ Hurdle, with horses such as Baracouda, Inglis Drever, and Big Bucks winning both races in the same season. Newbury also stages the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle in December.
Newbury’s other big meeting over jumps takes place in February, with the highlights being the Game Spirit Chase, the Denman Chase, and the Betfair Hurdle. Trainers use the Game Spirit Chase as a warm-up for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and winners of both races include Viking Flasgship, Master Minded, Sprinter Sacre, and Altior. Meanwhile, the Denman Chase is a trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with both Coneygree and Native River taking this prize on route to Gold Cup success. However, the biggest betting heat at Newbury is often the Betfair Hurdle, a fiercely competitive two-mile hurdle race that has been won by the likes of Make A Stand and My Tent Or Yours. The final big race of Newbury’s jumps season is the Greatwood Gold Cup, a grade three chase that Paul Nicholls trained eight winners of between 2006 and 2016.
Despite the fact Newbury Racecourse stages some of the biggest races in the United Kingdom, it operates a fairly relaxed dress code. Gentlemen must wear a collared shirt in the Hennessy Restaurant, Hospitality Areas, and Premier Enclosure, but ties are not required. However, many racegoers choose to dress to impress at some of the course’s biggest meetings.
In the Racegoers Restaurant and Grandstand Enclosure, the dress code is even more relaxed. However, there are some items of clothing that are not acceptable anywhere. These include sportswear, denim shorts, vests, t-shirts, tracksuits, trainers, flip-flops, beachwear, and ripped denim. Fancy dress is permitted, providing it is not offensive to other racegoers, whilst there is no dress code for children under the age of 12.
The first official race at Newbury Racecourse was won by Copper King, whose trainer was Charlie Marnes and whose jockey was Charlie Trigg. The trainer received a silver cup, whilst the jockey was presented with a gold whip, respectively worth £25 and £10.
Queen Elizabeth II chose to spend her 86th birthday in the Royal Box at Newbury Racecourse. Sadly, her two runners that day failed to give her further reason to celebrate.
In 2011, two horse sadly died after being electrocuted in the paddock at Newbury. The horses were called Fenix Too and Marching Song. The remainder of the meeting was abandoned.
Newbury Racecourse, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 7NZ
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