Wincanton Racecourse

Published: 08/10/2013

Located near the small town of Wincanton in the Somerset countryside, Wincanton Racecourse features a right-handed oval track that covers a distance of one mile and four furlongs. It is dedicated wholly to National Hunt racing and offers 17 fixtures each year between October and May. Among its biggest races are the Kingwell Hurdle and the CGA Chase, which are held in February as part of the Festive Trials leading up to the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

From Surviving to Thriving

Wincantonís long history of racing traces back to the 19th century when the town hosted its first steeplechase. Because hunting was popular in the Somerset area, by the turn of the century a series of regular race fixtures had been established at Hatherleigh Farm under the regulation of the National Hunt committee, established in 1861. The Wincanton Race Company was subsequently formed in 1913.

Although all activities at Wincanton Racecourse were cancelled during World War One, racing resumed on Easter Monday in 1920. A difficult five years followed, resulting in a decision by Lord Stalbridge to move the racecourse to Kingwell Farm in 1925 and the current venue formally opened in 1927.

Again racing was postponed for World War Two, and this time the site was used as a military base. When the war ended, Lord Stalbridge put the course up for sale and it was purchased by a consortium of ten National Hunt racers. The new owners saw to course improvements before launching the first post-war meeting in October 1945. For 21 years, Wincanton struggled financially until it was rescued by the Racecourse Holdings Trust in 1966 with a view to increasing the quality and popularity of racing there.

In 2001, the trust invested heavily in the facilities at the racecourse, which has been a boon to the numerous top-class stables nearby, including the Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat where trainer Paul Nicholls works his magic. Another Somerset trainer that does well at Wincanton is Phillip Hobbs. It is therefore not unusual to see some of the United Kingdomís top hurdlers and chasers featured here. In 2012 and 2013, the course was proudly honoured with the Racehorse Owners Association Gold Standard Award.

Racing at Wincanton Today

The jumps season at Wincanton Racecourse features full fixture list, packed with such feature race meetings as Badger Ales Chase Day in November and Boxing Day in December with its Lord Stalbridge Memorial Handicap Chase as well as Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle Day in February. There is family entertainment on Bathwick Tyres Countryside Day in March and Childrenís Day in April, too.

The races can be enjoyed from three separate enclosures: the Premier Enclosure with admission costing £16; the Grandstand Enclosure with tickets priced at £11; and the Course Enclosure with entry for just £5. For Boxing Day, the pricing is £25, £18 and £10, respectively. Children under age 16 are always admitted free when accompanied by a ticket-holding adult. Raceday packages at the Kingwell Restaurant start at £49.95 per person and include a reserved table for the day, a two or three-course menu, afternoon tea, Premier Enclosure Badge, a racecard, free parking and access to betting facilities. For £79.95, a similar package is available at the exclusive Winning Post Restaurant on the second floor of the Hatherleigh Stand.

Other facilities at Wincanton Racecourse include a 9-hole golf course and the Kingwell Lodge in the centre of the track with the golf club house. Single occupancy starts from £35 per night, while double occupancy is from £55. The Paddock Pavilion is also available for parties, exhibitions and events and can seat up to 350 guests.

Published on: 08/10/2013

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