Exeter Racecourse is one of the better-known jumps venues in the south west of England.
Hosting National Hunt events only, the track is often referred to locally as Haldon Racecourse owing to its location at the top of the Haldon Hills.
Previously known as Devon and Exeter, this track is the home of the Devon National and its main race, the Haldon Gold Cup which has been won in the past by such performers as Best Mate, Azertyuiop, Edredon Bleu, Viking Flagship and others.
- Address – Exeter Racecourse, Kennford, Exeter, Devon, EX6 7XS.
- Owner – The Jockey Club.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Exeter is very hilly in nature which is in keeping with the local surroundings on the Haldon Hills.
The track is a galloping one, and when the rain comes in the middle of the season conditions can become very testing indeed so stamina is at a premium.
When things are dry here, the complexion changes completely. Its position on the hills means there is no watering system, much like at Bath, meaning ground can dry out very quickly and get awfully fast. With that in mind, not only a horse who likes top of the ground but who has pace to skip across it is needed.
Exeter is right-handed and is long at two miles in length. There are 11 fences on each circuit with a run-in after the last of less than a furlong.
The hurdles course is to the inner, with both tracks featuring a half-mile home straight which rises all the way to the line, again emphasising the need to see out the entire trip.
Jockeys to have ridden at Exeter tend to offer really positive feedback.
Good for novices, Exeter features fair fences and generally good ground. While watering is a problem, especially given the sheer size of the course, the ground tends to stay in naturally good conditions which means trainers aren’t scared off.
At two miles around and with a steady rise over half a mile to the finish, this is a true test but with that good ground and those easy fences Exeter tends to be seen as a great place to work on inexperienced horses. The better ones often come here, so always take note of Exeter novice results.
Visiting Exeter Racecourse
Sitting as mentioned atop the Haldon Hills, Exeter Racecourse really is in a picturesque part of the country.
Once there, punters are treated to not only a great view but two very nice enclosures – the Haldon Premier Stand and the Grandstand & Paddock.
How to Get to Exeter Racecourse
You’ll find Exeter Racecourse just off the A38 Exeter to Plymouth road, around five miles from the end of the southbound M5.
Despite being close to the motorway and being signposted from each direction, those driving to Exeter Racecourse should keep in mind that getting the track requires a very tight turn soon after the brow of Haldon Hill.
The track is nine miles from Exeter itself, down the A30 and M5, where the train station is situated.
Trains arrive at Exeter from all parts of the country and many connections are possible. The nearest airport is Exeter which is 10 miles away, though routes aren’t the most comprehensive. A better option may be Bristol, though this is some 75 miles to the north.
Where to Stay
Although fairly rural, Exeter Racecourse is pretty well served by hotel rooms and rental properties.
Newton Abbot is to the south, though most visitors tend to stay in Exeter which is just a 15-minute drive away from the track.
Exeter Racecourse Fixtures
|Friday||8th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
|Thursday||21st Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
Major Events at Exeter
Exeter is more about its beauty, atmosphere and the fairness of its track.
While good novices run at the course regularly, Exeter isn’t well-off for confirmed top-level races. These two events are the stand-out races run at Exeter each season:
|Haldon Gold Cup||4yo+, Chase, Grade 2||2m1½f||November|
|Devon National||5yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 3||3m6½f||February|
All ‘Nationals’ are popular, including the Devon National, though as a Class 3 event it doesn’t get the same exposure as the Midlands National or even the Sussex and Durham Nationals for instance.
The Haldon Gold Cup is a different animal. A high-quality Grade 2 race, the Haldon Gold Cup doesn’t rely on crowds but prestige. The race is staged on a Tuesday in November but the result is very important.
Run over nearly 2¼ miles on this stiff track, it is seen as a good trial for races at Cheltenham later in the season and in fact has been won in recent times by subsequent Ryanair and King George winner Cue Card, as well as subsequent Tingle Creek winner and Champion Chaser Politologue.
About Exeter Racecourse
A traditional horse racing part of the country, the sport in one guise or another has formed part of Exeter’s heritage and history since the mid-1600’s.
When horse racing rules were standardised in 1750 after the formation of the Jockey Club, who still own this racecourse, Exeter became an important part of the sport’s schedule with the 1800’s proving to be a key point in the track’s history.
The track has gone from strength to strength over many decades, but does have its own quirks.
Its position on the top of the Haldon Hills, in fact some 850 feet above sea level, means Exeter Racecourse has the distinction of being the highest racecourse in the UK.
Like another extremely high track, Bath, it often has problems watering artificially although this is also down to the vast size of the course which at two miles around is one of the longest/biggest in the country also.