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Newbury Racecourse – Flat Racing and National Hunt Racing

Did you know that the grounds of Newbury Racecourse were used as a prisoner-of-war camp for German prisoners during World War I? Were you aware that the racecourse in the town of Newbury hosted both flat and National Hunt Thoroughbred races?

We plan on telling you everything there is to know about Newbury Racecourse. We’ll start at the beginning by talking about how the horse racing venue was opened. We’ll move into a discussion about the distinct facilities on the property so that you have a good idea of what the track is like.

It is important that we reveal some of the biggest races that are annually held on the racecourse. Regardless of if you are a fan of the jump races or the flat-out sprints, we’ll reveal events that pique any horse racing fan’s interest. Sadly, we will address the misfortunes of 2011 that led to a pair of horses collapsing before the race even started.

We’ll also make sure we leave you with some tips and advice when traveling to the racecourse in Newbury. If you do decide to make the trip, we want you to be fully prepared so that when you do arrive, all that’s left to do is watch the races unfold and have a great time!

Before we dive into all the material, take a peek at this brief overview of some key points.

Overview of Newbury Racecourse

Year Opened
1905
Location
Newbury, Berkshire, England
Owners
Newbury Racecourse PLC
Course Type
Flat, National Hunt
Notable Races
Lockinge Stakes, Ladbrokes Trophy, Challow Novices’ Hurdle
Official Website
Overview of Newbury Racecourse

Getting Started

Although the official opening of Newbury Racecourse didn’t come until the fall of 1905, horse races had been taking place on the fields in between Greenham and Newbury long before that. A full 100 years before the opening was when the first event was held, simply called the “Newbury Races.”

When Kingsclere native and horse trainer John Porter first had the idea to open a racecourse, he was shot down. It wasn’t until he sought out King Edward VII’s approval that the Jockey Club acknowledged that opening a course in Newbury was a good idea.

The Newbury Racecourse Company was formally created in 1904, and construction on the venue was underway. The Whatcombe Handicap was the first event held, and the winning jockey (Charlie Trigg) was presented with a Silver Cup worth about £25. Back then, not too shabby!

The course at Newbury was used for both flat and jump races right from the get-go. Of the nine racing days on the schedule during the 1906 season, six were designed for flat racing, while three were designated for jumping.

Before we start talking about the most renowned events at Newbury, let’s dive into some characteristics of the racecourse and the property itself.

The Facilities at Newbury Racecourse

Due to the fact that Newbury hosts both National Hunt and flat races, the setup of the racecourse is not like every other racetrack you have been to in the past. The outside oval is about one furlong short of two miles with some undulations built in.

The 11 fences that are scattered on the jump course are stiffer than the average fences, making any contact with them a not-so-good feeling on the horses’ legs. The good thing for those Thoroughbreds who stumble in the early going is that the course is considered to be fairly spacious. This means horses trailing the pack have plenty of room and ample opportunity to maneuver a late-stage comeback.

While the competing horses are able to slip past one another on the racecourse, don’t expect to sneak by the security when you are walking in. They have a strict and systematic procedure in place that stops anyone from bringing any “unwanted items” into the facilities. These measures have been implemented to increase the safety of the patrons.

There are three large grandstands surrounding the course, each with their own unique features.

The Hampshire Stand

Here you will find the Seafood Bar, The Champagne Hall, and the Hennessy Restaurant. There are also other eateries and additional forms of entertainment to discover.

Newbury Racecourse’s Hampshire Stand Is a Fine Spot for Viewing the Racing
The Hampshire Stand offers excellent views of the racing.

The Berkshire Stand

Places to eat and drink like The Coffee Yard and The Brasserie are located in the Berkshire Stand. If you are looking for the Long Bar or the Bakery, head to this area. It’s fully equipped with cash machines and informational desks to answer any questions you may have.

Oh yeah, and it’s probably the best view of the racecourse!

Dubai Duty Free Grandstand

The closest grandstand to the parking lots, everything from Tom’s Pies to Donna Italia and the Paddock Kitchen can be found inside the Dubai Duty Free Grandstand. The Racegoers Restaurant is wildly popular, as are the multiple bars in this structure.

Pack your wallet, as you’ll find plenty to spend your money on here.

The Prominent Races at Newbury

As we have touched on earlier on this page, the racecourse at Newbury is no stranger to both forms of Thoroughbred racing. The great thing is that both forms of the sport are well represented here at Newbury. Let’s start with the most illustrious event on the racing calendar, the Lockinge Stakes.

Lockinge Stakes

Part of the British Champions Series, this one-mile turf race is reserved for only the fastest four-year-old-and-up horses around. The Group-1 event boasts a handsome £350,000 prize pool, with nearly £200,000 of that going to the winning horse and his or her owner.

This race started out as a Group-2 event before temporarily moving down to Group-3 status in 1983. This was short-lived, as the Lockinge Stakes once again was a Group-2 competition in 1985.

By the 1995 running, it was upgraded to Group 1, and three-year-old horses were no longer to compete. These are the same guidelines the Lockinge Stakes abides by today.

We have seen three horses win this race twice, with all three occasions coming in back-to-back years. Pall Mall did it in 1958 and 1959, while we saw Welsh Pageant win the race consecutively in 1970 and 1971. The most recent horse to accomplish the feat was Soviet Line in 1995 and 1996.

While a plethora of Thoroughbreds have participated in and even won this race, only one horse did so in under 1:35.

Believe it or not, six-year-old stallion Rakti blitzed the field in 2005 on his way to a record time of 1:33.59. This is more than a full second faster than any other horse who has raced in the Lockinge Stakes.

Ladbrokes Trophy

Ready for the biggest jump racing event at Newbury Racecourse? The £200,000-purse Ladbrokes Trophy is that race. With a first-place prize of more than £113,000, all four-year-old horses and up that specialize in steeplechasing have their eyes set on this competition.

At 5,331 meters, which is 3 miles 2 ½ furlongs, this is the longest race on the schedule at Newbury. The handicap chase takes place on a Saturday late in the year, generally at the end of November or in early December. There are 21 obstacles that must be cleared, meaning this is no bargain for even the most experienced horses.

When the event was first established in 1957, it was called the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup and was actually held at Cheltenham Racecourse. Within three years, the Gold Cup was moved to Newbury.

However, it was still called the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup. In fact, it wasn’t until February 2017 that Ladbrokes took over as the official title sponsor of this treasured race.

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Three horses have won this event twice. Mandarin was the first to accomplish the feat when he remarkably won in 1967 as a 6 year old and again in 1961 when he was 10. Arkle was next when the gelding won a pair of Hennessy Cognac Gold Cups consecutively in 1964 and 1965. The most recent horse to make history at this event was Denman, winning both in 2007 and 2009.

Challow Novices’ Hurdle

Typically taking place on one of the last three days of the calendar year, the Challow Novices’ Hurdle is the final race of the year at Newbury Racecourse. This is the only Grade-1 hurdling event at Newbury and is designed for horses who have reached their fourth birthdays.

Interestingly enough, occasionally the event takes place on one of the first few days in January. In those circumstances, horses actually must be five years old in order to have a slot in one of the starting gates.

At 4.131 kilometers (a shade over 2.5 miles), horses must find a way to hurdle 10 fences. Certainly not the most difficult of all the jump races horses will encounter, this race started out as an event set aside for three-year-old novices only. This meant that only horses who had yet to win a hurdling race before the start of the current season were eligible to compete.

In 1981, they started allowing older horses to participate, and ironically enough, the three-year-olds are now excluded from racing in the Challow Novices’ Hurdle.

As of today, no Thoroughbreds have won this event more than once. However, we have seen Tony McCoy win six times as a jockey.

The Tragedy in 2011

While we would love to continue talking about the fun memories and highlights from the major races, there was a devastating tragedy that occurred in February 2011.

While getting ready for the initial race of the afternoon, two horses collapsed in the paddock area, dying of their injuries.

Both Fenix Two and Marching Song were the . Unfortunately, a leak from one of the cable cords caused the two horses to go into cardiac arrest. After the first race was delayed and then completed, the remainder of the events that day were canceled.

The cables that triggered the electrocution were thought to have been pierced from routine maintenance work. They were removed the following day, although the tragedy had already occurred.

It is worth noting that The Merry Giant and Kid Cassidy were both distressed and overwhelmed by the situation. Fortunately, both were lucky enough to escape without critical or lasting injuries.

Some Tips on Traveling to Newbury Racecourse

Now it’s time for us to give you some advice if you plan on making a trip to Newbury. If you are a local, surely you don’t need any tips on where to park or what to expect when you get there. If you are not familiar with Newbury or the surrounding area, read this segment carefully to help make the most out of your travels.

The first thing is to decide what your intentions are. If you don’t want to fiddle around sightseeing in London beforehand, you are better off flying right into the Southampton Airport in the Eastleigh Borough in the Hampshire County. You can shoot over to Newbury in a short, 45-minute car or bus ride.

If you plan on taking some time to check out some of the attractions in London, schedule a flight to Heathrow, and you will be right in the middle of all the action.

Landing in Heathrow will leave you about 80 km (50 miles) east of Newbury and only 25 or so km (about 15 miles) west of Waterloo Station and Buckingham Palace.

Not interested in exploring London?

You don’t have to spend time perusing around the city of London if you don’t want to. There are plenty of things to do by just staying in and around the racecourse in Newbury.

There is enough natural beauty built into the landscape to turn any regular afternoon into a day in paradise. If you are up for 18 holes of golf, Newbury and Crookham Golf Club and Deanwood Park Golf Club are nearby and offer spectacular views of the countryside.

Once you step foot inside Newbury Racecourse, the fun and entertainment await. As we covered while discussing the different enclosures, there are more than enough food and beverage options on the property to keep all men, women, and children happy.

For all of you bettors, you need not worry. Everything you want to know about can be found by clicking on the link provided.

We can’t promise you’ll end up picking the winning horses. But we can assure you there will be no shortage of entertainment.

Summing It Up

We are hoping we have answered all your questions about Newbury Racecourse. The course that opened for Thoroughbred flat racing in 1905 introduced jump racing the very next year. Ever since then, Newbury has been home to some esteemed events on both racing calendars.

Before talking about the three biggest competitions staged on the course at Newbury, we broke down the specifics of the track’s facilities.

Being aware of the different grandstands and what they each offer allows you to feel comfortable getting ready to visit.

Speaking of taking a trip, be sure to check out our segment on traveling to the course. Whether you want to stop off in London and scope out the city first or you just want to head straight to the horse races, both are viable options. There is an awful lot to see and do in London. However, there are options in Newbury as well.

Are you a fan of eating, drinking, betting, and having a splendid time? Head over to Newbury Racecourse – it’s all there waiting for you.

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