Located near Chepstow in Monmouthshire, Chepstow Racecourse is one of only three thoroughbred tracks in Wales alongside Bangor and Ffos Las. The racecourse is situated within the Wye Valley, near the English border.
Now owned by ARC, Chepstow was devised as a Flat racing venue at first but is now synonymous with National Hunt racing, hosting among other things the very important Welsh Grand National every winter.
- Address – Chepstow Racecourse, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, NP16 6BE.
- Owner – Arena Racing Company.
- TV Station – Sky Sports Racing.
- Type – Flat and National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Chepstow remains a dual-purpose venue, so it’s important for punters to understand the intricacies of both the Flat and National Hunt courses.
By British standards, Chepstow’s layout is pretty standard in that it has a left-handed round track as well as a straight course.
The track features noticeable undulations. The oval is around two miles long, one of the longest in the country in fact, with a home straight after the bend of some five furlongs.
Despite the layout, Chepstow is not known as a classic galloping track. That said, there is still more of a focus on stamina than speed here on all ground types, especially given that on the round course runners have five furlongs to sort themselves out on the straight, while races right up to a mile can be run on the straight track.
Flat Track Analysis
Jockeys to have ridden Chepstow do regard it as a track that takes some getting. The long straight and the various lumps and bumps mean that a horse needs to see out the entire trip and won’t get away with using speed alone to outclass rivals.
Inexperienced jockeys have tended to get riding too early in the straight, its length then catching them out. Larger types do well on the straight course as a long stride can be important here, though again they will need to have the pedigree or the proven form over the trip for punters to be confident.
Once again, the National Hunt track is left-handed, undulating and around two miles in length. There are eleven fences on each circuit, while the jumps track again features that long, five-furlong straight.
The straight alone features five fences and a 250-yard run-in after the last, all of which points to stamina being needed on a course that can be very testing for jumpers when the rain hits.
Jumps Track Analysis
Riders report some rather extreme differences with Chepstow depending on the going.
Track record times have proven to be pretty rapid when the going is quick, while when it is soft the course is noted for producing huge distances between finishers which shows just how testing it can be.
Despite the quick times, even on good ground punters should be aware enough to only back horses they know will get the full trip. When the ground is soft, all of that stamina plus a liking for deeper ground is required.
Not enough is made of the need to jump well around here. While the track is tough and stamina-sapping for the most part, the run-in after the last is all downhill which can catch plenty out.
Visiting Chepstow Racecourse
Chepstow Racecourse sits on the southern end of the Wye Valley, a picturesque part of the country and one everyone should see as they tour Britain’s race tracks.
How to Get to Chepstow
If you’re driving to Chepstow, you’ll find the track on the A466. The venue is on the Chepstow-Monmouth road, close to the Severn Bridge.
From the M4 east, leave at junction 21, or from the west you can leave at junction 23. From there, take the M48 and leave at junction 2. The racecourse is signposted from this point.
There is a bus service to Chepstow Racecourse, coming from Chepstow Train Station. There is another from Newport Station too.
The most common way to reach Chepstow is by rail, with the bus service or taxis then connecting the station to the track. Direct trains to Chepstow come from all parts of Wales, as well as Birmingham, Cardiff, Cheltenham Spa, Derby, Gloucester, Newport and Nottingham.
You can connect at Newport from Bath, Bristol, Crewe, Exeter, Hereford, London Paddington, Manchester, Portsmouth, Salisbury, Shrewsbury and Swansea.
Bristol Airport is only 30 miles away, while Cardiff Airport is around 45 miles.
Where to Stay
Limited hotel rooms are available in and around Chepstow. There are a bigger concentration of rooms is Newport 18 miles away, and even more so over the bridge in Bristol which is the same distance away.
Major Events at Chepstow
Chepstow does host a number of Flat fixtures through the summer, though the best quality you’ll see is when a promising novice or maiden happens to make the trip.
The better quality definitely comes over the jumps. These are Chepstow’s major National Hunt races each season:
|Veteran’s Handicap Chase||Handicap Chase, 10yo+, Class 2||2m7½f||Jumps Season Opener||October|
|Persian War Novices’ Hurdle||Novices’ Hurdle, 4yo+, Grade 2||2m3½f||Jumps Season Opener||October|
|4-Y-O Hurdle||Limited Handicap Hurdle, 4yo Only, Class 2||2m||Jumps Season Opener||October|
|Native River Chase||Handicap Chase, 4yo+, Class 2||2m7½f||Jumps Season Opener||October|
|Robert Mottram Memorial Trophy||Novices’ Chase, 4yo+, Listed Race||2m3½f||Jumps Season Opener||October|
|Silver Trophy||Handicap Hurdle, 4yo+, Grade 3||2m3½f||Jumps Season Opener||October|
|Finale Juvenile Hurdle||Juvenile Hurdle, 3yo Only, Grade 1||2m||Welsh Grand National Meeting||December|
|Welsh Grand National||Handicap Chase, 4yo+, Grade 3||3m6½f||Welsh Grand National Meeting||December|
About Chepstow Racecourse
Chepstow Racecourse has a terrific history, though isn’t one of Britain’s oldest racing venues.
The first meetings here took place in the early 1920’s, initially with a focus on Flat racing. Having improved, developed and diversified since the track became a focus for the community and a very famous track hosting the ultra-important Welsh Grand National every year on December 27th.
These days, the track is just as successful as a music venue, wedding venue and conference venue although the focus has remained on thoroughbred Flat and jumps racing.
Chepstow Racecourse’s origins are simple, the venue once being a park. At the beginning of the 1920’s, a group of South Wales worthies got together to buy Piercefield Park. Their plan to form a racecourse on the 370 acres of the park ultimately proved to be a terrific success, the topography of the park being perfect for a challenging and testing racecourse.
A wait of three years ensued as no fewer than 80 people worked to hew the course, changing the area from simple but pleasant parkland into a top-class thoroughbred racing track.
As if to prove how much a racecourse was needed in the area, when the track was finally ready to race in the summer of 1926, on less than 20,000 showed up for the inaugural meeting and there has simply been no looking back ever since.
Chepstow now plays its part in what is a vital couple of days for the jumps racing industry. Regardless of what days they fall on, punters always know that Kempton Park will host Grade 1 action on Boxing Day, with Chepstow always following up with the Welsh National the following day.