While turf racing remains over jumps, famously so in fact given the hugely important Christmas action, it’s all about the all-weather on the Flat at Kempton Park these days.
Their Polytrack surface, just like the Tapeta at Newcastle, is grossly underrated by many punters, mainly traditionalists. The all-weather tracks including Kempton are fair and are attracted better and better races.
Kempton’s September Stakes in fact has seen the likes of Jack Hobbs, Enable and Bay Bridge win it impressively.
The track here is right-handed and flat in nature, featuring more than one loop into the home straight.
Kempton Course Draw Bias Overview
The starts for both five-furlong and seven-furlongs at Kempton are in the same place. That is because there is an inner circuit and an outer circuit.
The five-furlong races are on the inner loop, meaning they are very tight making the draw important.
Races over six, seven and eight furlongs are on the outer loop but the draw is still crucial.
Pace is a major factor at Kempton.
The quicker horses tend to do well here as they can get to the front early on the tight bends and are hard to catch, while the surface itself is quick enough and means they don’t tend to paddle and struggle late on.
5 Furlongs at Kempton
We all know about Beverley and Chester, but in fairness Kempton’s five-furlong course is probably the tightest around and yet that is not spoken about enough. The low draw over five furlongs here can be crucial.
There are three stages at which races are won over five furlongs at Kempton; the start, at the first bend and on the short straight.
Even a moderate horse can be quick enough to cover the first two stages, but may not have the ability to hold on. A genuine contender which can break quickly from the gate, get to a good tactical position on the inner at the first bend and then see it out will be hard to catch.
6 Furlongs at Kempton
Six-furlong races at Kempton are run on the outer circuit, meaning they are not quite as tight as the five-furlong events and there is a longer run-in to the line.
That said, runners still only have a short run to the first bend and the turn is still tight enough, meaning a low draw on the inner is once again desired. Stalls 1-4 are of particular interest, even in relatively small fields.
7 Furlongs at Kempton
Seven-furlong races are also on the outer loop, but there is only around 1½ furlongs to the first turn on this quick surface, meaning again the low draw remains favoured. This is especially true when there are around eight or more runners as it can lead to those drawn high being four or so wide going right the bend.
Look out for horses drawn particularly low, perhaps stalls 1-4, with good early pace. They can often break away well and be pretty hard to catch unless showing extreme ability. This is true mainly in the handicaps, though it can be different in novice races where there can be a stark difference in relative abilities.
1 Mile at Kempton
We’re still on the outer circuit for one-mile races at Kempton which gives runners the length of the back straight before turning. That means the low draw advantage is pretty much negated. This may be the fairest distance at the course as far as the draw is concerned.
1 Mile, 1 Furlong to 1 Mile, 2 Furlongs at Kempton
We go back to the inner loop for 9f – 10f races. The 1m 1f and 1m 1½f races begin in front of the stands with runners not going far before making the first turn. 1m 2f races start virtually on the bend at the end of the inner loop which connects to the straight. As such, we go back to the low draw being favoured here.
Out-and-out speed is not as important as over five furlongs, but if your horse has good tactical speed and/or can start well it will have a big advantage at these trips, especially if being drawn on the inner and not having to pass the field to get across into position.