Plumpton Racecourse started life as a hare coursing venue in the nineteenth century, but soon turned its attentions to horse racing. Racing at Plumpton has been taking place for over 130 years and, whilst much of the racing here is low-grade affairs, the course’s notable winners include dual Racing Post Chase winner Docklands Express and Grand National winner Comply Or Die. Another big-named Plumpton Winner is Arkle Chase winner Voy Por Ustedes, who was the first horse to win Plumpton’s £60,000 Bonus for winning a novice chase at Plumpton and a race at the same seaspn’s Cheltenham Festival. This bonus continues to help Plumpton attract some useful novice chasers each year.
However, Plumpton’s main highlight of the season is the Sussex National Handicap Chase, a race which is run over three miles and five furlongs in January. Meanwhile, one of Plumpton’s biggest milestones was being the course where AP McCoy rode his 3000th winner.
Below are some key facts about the Plumpton racecourse:
Course Type: Jumps
Current Owners: Peter Savill and Adrian Pratt
Left-handed, undulating, and sharp is the best way to describe Plumpton Racecourse, which resembles something between a rectangle and a square. The bends are sharp, which means it is often best for horses not to be too far away from the inside rail when they come to them, or they’ll forfeit a fair amount of ground. However, in soft conditions, this advantage can often be negated as the best ground can usually be found wider out on the course. The fences aren’t the stiffest but can catch out dodgy jumpers or those that have come off the bridle. Jockeys on good jumpers that are travelling easily can often pinch a few lengths at the fences at the top and the bottom of the hill, whilst rounding the final bend is often when jockeys will try and make their race-winning move.
Plumpton Racecourse hosts around 17 meetings each year, with the season kicking-off in September and ending in May. Plumpton’s flagship event is definitely the Sussex National Handicap Chase, a stamina sapping race run over 29 furlongs that has been won by the likes of Vinnie Lewis and Morney Wing.
However, the course also stages an important novice chase that continually changes name, but has been called the Jill’s 80th Birthday Novices’ Chase. Big Plumpton supporter Gary Moore has a good recent record in the race having trained Benatar and Baron Alco to win the 2017 and 2018 renewals, whilst Paul Nicholls and Oliver Sherwood respectively trained Le Mercurey and Deputy Dan to win the 2016 and 2015 renewals. Meanwhile, another high-profile trainer that loves to send his good novice chasers to Plumpton is Alan King. Not only did he win the Plumpton Bonus by saddling Voy Por Usetedes to win at Plumpton and the Cheltenham Festival, he almost repeated the feat with Uxizandre in 2013/14, with the latter finishing second in the JLT Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. However, Uxizandre returned to Cheltenham the following year to win the Ryanair Chase.
Plumpton Racecourse doesn’t operate a formal dress code, instead encouraging racegoers to consider the weather forecast before deciding what to wear. However, if you are attending the Marquee Restaurant or Paddock, you are requested to adhere to the smart casual request, which includes smart jeans.
Cowslip was the first ever winner at Plumpton, winning a seller under jockey Harry Escott, who completed a treble on the day.
There were just four race meetings in the first year there was racing at Plumpton Racecourse, and there wasn’t a winning favourite until the third meeting.
In 1994, Adrian Maguire rode five of the six winners at one meeting. Later that year, AP McCoy also rode his first Plumpton winner.
In 2009, AP McCoy rode his 3,000th winner at Plumpton aboard Restless D’Artaix.
Plumpton Racecourse Ltd, Plumpton, East Sussex, BN7 3AL