Newton Abbot Racecourse

Published: 03/08/2013
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Located just north of Newton Abbot in Devon, England, the Newton Abbot Racecourse occupies an ideal bit of property for thoroughbred racing on the north bank of the River Teign in the parishes of Kingsteignton and Teigngrace. The tight, flat left-handed oval course covers about a mile and one furlong, which for jumps feature seven moderately easy fences per circuit leading to a short run in to the finish.

Founding and Development

The present 91-acre (370,000m2) site was purchased in 1866 by local racing enthusiasts in order to have a permanent space for equine sport in the region. Although the jumping events that were held grew hugely popular, the track remained unequipped and could not be considered a proper racing venue for major fixtures. During World War I, the land was converted into a prisoner-of-war camp, and it was not until after World War Two that racing fully resumed in earnest.

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, flat racing became all the rage and National Hunt racing was thought of as the preserve of “the needy and the greedy.” That began to change in 1969, when the main grandstand at Newton Abbott was opened by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, adding an air of greater importance to the jumps schedule.

In the 1970s, greyhound racing was introduced in the evenings, following the closure of the track in Kingskerswell, and it continued through the 1980s. Although no totalisator was operated at Newton Abbott, a number of trackside bookmakers were always on hand to serve the needs of local punters.

In 1990, corporate facilities were constructed and modernisation efforts since then have transformed the Newton Abbot Racecourse into a true attraction for both passionate racegoers and Devon area businesses alike. Excellent views are available from the Course and Paddock Enclosures, which are situated alongside the Family Enclosure situated in the centre of the course. Antique fairs, conferences, exhibitions and private functions have added to the utility of the racecourse, too.

Racing at Newton Abbott Today

One of the most important changes made at Newton Abbott Racecourse occurred in 2011, when Lord Mildmay Memorial Handicap Chase was inaugurated. The handicap steeplechase has become the featured race of the biggest meeting of the summer, and it commemorates Lord Anthony Mildmay, who in 1949 during a stay at Windsor Castle inspired Queen Elizabeth to start owning jumpers. He remained the Royal racing manager until his death in 1950.

The complete racing season at Newton Abbott runs from March through October, with 19 fixtures in total. Those include several evening events as well as six summer dates upon which the Family Enclosure is open. The pinnacle of the racing season is Ladies’ Day in June, when the women of Devon don their finery to enjoy summer jumps racing under the stars along with a two-course buffet, a fashion show and a charity raffle.

For each fixture, two ticket prices are available. The “Course Enclosure” priced at £12 provides access to acres of picnic space, large bar areas, a snack bar and betting facilities along with a close-up view of the racing action. For £18, the “Paddock Enclosure” offers exclusive access to the Paddock Grandstand, the award-winning Winning Post Restaurant, Paddock Restaurant and Manicou Carvery Restaurant, as well as bars and the Silks lounge.

Whilst racing takes place, the track’s special raceday crèche is open under the sponsorship of Sunflower Day Nurseries. It opens half an hour before the day’s first race and closes half an hour after the last, offering a safe, yet fun, environment for children aged 3 to 7 years old. Charges are £6 per hour or £20 for a full session.

Published on: 03/08/2013

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