Racing at Taunton dates back to the seventeenth century, though the first official race here took part in 1927 when Baalbek won a selling hurdle at Orchard Portman, the current home of Taunton Racecourse. Orchard Portman was a site owned by Viscount Portman, and the racecourse was the brainchild of seven men that formed the Taunton Racecourse Company.
Today, Taunton stages around 14 meetings each season between the months of October and April. Themed meetings include the Festive Fixture, Portman Cup Day, the RNLI Charity Race Day, and Ladies’ Day. The course also stages events, conferences, Christmas parties, concerts and weddings.
Famous horses that have won here include Penzance who went on to win the 2005 Triumph Hurdle, whilst Well Chief went onto win the 2004 Arkle Chase from the future Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kicking King. Another notable debut winner here was Rooster Booster, though he unbelievably didn’t win another race for two years before winning the 2001 County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He then returned to Cheltenham in 2003 to win the Champion Hurdle.
Course Type: Jumps
Current Owner: Taunton Racecourse Limited
Horses are required to race right-handed at Taunton, with the 10-furlong course having a back straight, a home straight, and two sharp bends. The course does not attract many high-class horses, but many decent horses have run here early in their careers before taking higher-rank. The likes of Paul Nicholls, David Pipe, Harry Fry, Colin Tizzard, and Nicky Henderson often send runners here, especially in search of better ground, as the ground often rides quicker here than at many than many similar courses in winter.
One of Taunton’s biggest sponsors is Bathwick Tyres, and the local company tend to sponsor an entire meeting in January. Races include the Bathwick Tyres British EBF National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle, won in 2018 by Dan McGrue. Meanwhile, Vocaliser was a recent winner of the Bathwick Tyres Taunton Novices’ Limited Handicap. Impressive handicap hurdler Boite has his name on the role of honour for the Batwick Tyre Senior’s Handicap Hurdle, whilst Geordie Des Champs could take higher-rank after winning the Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase. Brainstorm is a recent winner of the Batwick Tyres Bath Novices’ Hurdle, whilst Kauto Riko is a winner of the Bathwick Tyres Bridgewater Handicap Chase.
Despite offering a number of different enclosures, bars and restaurants, such as the Orchard Stand and Restaurant, and the Portman Stand, bar, and buffet, Taunton Racecourse does not appear to operate a dress code for different areas. Instead, racegoers are urged to consider the weather when choosing their outfit. That includes choosing clothing and footwear that is suitable for both inside and outside.
Taunton Racecourse was the last National Hunt Racecourse to open its gates in 1927, making it the youngest of all the jumps racing courses.
Taunton Racecourse Company Ltd, Orchard Portman, Taunton, Somerset, TA3 7BL