Wincanton Racecourse celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017. However, the original site at Hatherleigh Farm stopped being used in the 1920’s, with the current course at Kingwell Farm staging its first meeting on Easter Monday in 1927. The man responsible for the current course was Lord Stalbridge and he is honoured every Boxing Day when the course stages the Lord Stalbridge Memorial Cup.
The Jockey Club took over the running of Wincanton Racecourse in the 1960’s, and the course currently hosts around 17 jumps racing fixtures each season from October to May. These include a variety of fun themed days, as well as its most prestigious racing days, the Badger Ales Day in November and the Kingwell Hurdle Day in February. The Badger Ales Day card stages the Badger Ales Trophy, the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase, and the Elite Hurdle, whilst the Kingwell Hurdle has been used as a Champion Hurdle warm-up by Champion Hurdle winners such as Alderbrook, Hors La Loi III, and Katchit.
When horse racing is not taking place, Wincanton is also a popular venue for corporate entertainment and private functions including weddings.
Course Type: Jumps
Current Owner: The Jockey Club
Getting into a nice jumping rhythm is usually paramount to a horse’s chances at Wincanton, as the speedy nature of the track can make it very difficult for horse to come back on the bridle if they make a mistake and get behind. The track itself is right-handed and, on good ground, can provide runner with real test of speed, especially hurdlers.
The fences are stiff on the chase course though, and speed won’t win you the day unless you can combine that with foot-perfect jumping.
Wincanton stages a lot of enjoyable races, but is best known for four graded races. Three of these are run on the same card in November, the Rising Star Novices’ Chase, the Elite Hurdle, and the Badger Ales Trophy. Meanwhile, the Kingwell Hurdle is run in February.
The Rising Star Novices’ Chase is a race that local trainer Paul Nicholls has dominated since he won it for the first time with future Cheltenham Gold Cup winner See More Business in 1996. Indeed, including that victory, Nicholls has won this Grade 2 race a total of 10 times, with other notable winners including Siviniaco Conti. It was also won in 2004 by Martin Pipe’s Comply Or Die, who went onto win the Grand National for his son David Pipe.
The Elite Hurdle is also a Grade 2 race and one that provides some of the country’s best two-mile hurdlers with an early opportunity to test their Champion Hurdle credentials. However, whilst Morley Street remains the only Champion Hurdler to win the race, lots of good horses have used the race as a stepping stone to bigger successes, including Azetyioup, Well Chief, and Sceau Royal.
Whilst the Rising Star Novices’ Chase and the Elite Hurdle are often a stepping stone to bigger things, the Grade 3 Badger Ales Chase is normally a great chance for up and coming handicappers to claim a big early-season win. The race’s most famous winner is Teeton Mill, who went on to win the Hennessey Gold Cup and the King George on his next two runs. Meanwhile, the 2017 and 2018 winner Present Man was the fifth horse to win the race twice, and the third to win it back-to-back.
However, of all the big races run at Wincanton, it is the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle that boasts the most prestigious role of honour. Though by many to be a perfect trial for the Champion Hurdle, it’s no surprise that the likes of Bula, Lanzarote, Kribensis, Hors La Loi III, Alderbrook, Katchit, and Binocular have all won it. Meanwhile, star performers like Desert Orchid, Azertyioup, Inglis Drever, and Rhinestone Cowboy have also got their name on the trophy.
Wincanton doesn’t operate a strict dress code but, like many racecourses that are owned by the Jockey Club, it uses the slogan, “Racing doesn’t happen every day, so why not treat your visit as a special occasion?”
However, for many racegoers, it is the weather forecast that provides the best guide to what to wear for a day at the races, with winter racing often dictating you dress warmly and sensibly.
Fancy dress is permitted though, but please make sure that any fancy dress outfit will not cause offence to any other racegoer. If it is, the wearer is likely to be refused entry to the racecourse.
Somerset’s hunting community consider that Wincanton Racecourse staged the first official National Steeplechase in 1867.
In 2015, Wincanton Racecourse was voted the best small racecourse in Wales and the South West.
Wincanton Racecourse, Wincanton, Somerset, BA9 8BJ
01963 435 840