Kempton Park is a dual-purpose racetrack situated in Surrey. The track is set within a large area of grassland and features a lake in the centre of its two courses; the inner all-weather track used for Flat racing and the outer turf track used for National Hunt events.
Though once an important turf Flat racing venue, Kempton is more famous these days for hosting the King George VI steeplechase each Boxing Day. The race is the most important chase race of three miles or over behind the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Flat racing continues here, though the turf was discarded and since 2006 Kempton’s races on the level have all been run on a Polytrack surface.
- Address – Kempton Park, Staines Road East, Sunbury on Thames, Surrey, TW16 5AQ.
- Owner – The Jockey Club.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat and National Hunt.
- Surface – Polytrack (Flat), Turf (National Hunt).
Flat racing is staged at Kempton all year round and it has retained its importance in the industry despite ditching the turf in 2006.
The Polytrack surface is seen as fair, with top trainers from Newmarket, Lambourn and the likes sending good novices there regularly.
The jumps course remains one of the most important in Britain, hosting top-class National Hunt events during the winter months.
The Polytrack racecourse used on the Flat is an oval featuring two different loops. Races over 1¼ miles and 1½ miles begin at pretty much the same point, with horses in the latter going round the outer loop as opposed to the inner.
Right-handed, Kempton is flat in nature. The inner circuit is used for races run over five furlongs, nine furlongs and ten furlongs and is pretty sharp. The straight is only two furlongs in length from the final bend to the winning post and thus often favours those racing handily.
Naturally, the outer circuit turn is much wider and more sweeping, creating a longer home straight of three furlongs which gives horses more time to get organised and levels the playing field for those not wishing to race up in the front rank.
Flat Track Analysis
The general consensus, with stats backing this up at least partially, as that the above is true in terms of handy types doing best at Kempton, especially on the inner track.
Jockeys to have ridden the course however don’t necessarily agree. Some say that the draw is important, an inner draw (low numbers) being a big advantage on either course while they have also been happy to use waiting tactics and are happy to play for a break and come late.
They don’t always get there though, factually, so look out for horses and/or jockeys with preferences for hold-up tactics as they may not be seen to best effect.
As with all synthetic tracks, the weather and general conditions can play a part. If the track is listed as being ‘standard’, it’ll ride pretty quick so bear that in mind especially on the inner course as speed is all-important.
Most of the time however, when things are dry, the track will be described as ‘standard to slow’ and that will allow those without massive early pace to come late. This is exaggerated on the outer course with its wider bend and longer straight.
Kempton’s turf jumps course is right-handed and very flat. This is important to note, as horses with top-class form at Ascot and Cheltenham may come into events here as massive favourites, though those to have failed on tracks with uphill finishes may be seen at their best here which levels things up.
The fences here are also thought of as being pretty easy, so again speed is of the essence rather than out and out stamina, even over three miles.
Much like Haydock Park, another flat track, things can get surprisingly testing here when the rain comes pushing the emphasis back on stamina rather than speed.
Jumps Track Analysis
There are some crossings for the horses to go over on the Polytrack, owing to the building of the ‘new’ all-weather Flat track on the inside. This hasn’t changed the way Kempton rides too much however, according to jockeys.
Strong travellers are needed here. This is basic feedback from jockeys and nobody is quite sure why, but it’s likely to be because the fences aren’t too stiff and so there isn’t so much stop and start between obstacles.
Those able to keep going at a nice cruising speed can keep taking the fences in their stride and maintain momentum. There’s a short run however from the home turn to the last fence which catches some out.
Visiting Kempton Park
One of Kempton’s features is that it is the closest racecourse to central London, meaning it has always been well supported by racegoers.
Traditionally, many have come to Kempton every Boxing Day for the King George feature, a race seen as being second in importance only to the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
How to Get to Kempton Park
Although the racetrack and the grassland are nice to look at, being very close to Kempton Nature Reserve, the course here is actually near some very well-populated areas and is easily reachable from London.
Kempton Park is right on the A308 Staines Road East. This puts it within quick and easy reach from Richmond, Twickenham, Hounslow, Feltham, Staines, Hampton, Kingston upon Thames and the likes.
The track is 15 miles from Westminster to the east, 28 miles from Reading to the west, 19 miles from Watford in the north and 28 miles from Crawley in the south.
Heathrow Airport is a mere five miles and 15 minutes away by car, while Gatwick is just around 30 miles and 45 minutes to the south.
Often the best way to access the track is by train. You’ll have to do this via London Waterloo or Shepperton, with Kempton Park Station being a mere five-minute walk to the racecourse entrance.
Where to Stay
There is an endless choice of places to stay for visiting Kempton Park, given its proximity to the wider London area.
Lots of rooms are available right near the racecourse if that is your only reason for visiting the area, while many choose to stay near Heathrow or in central London to aid travel or as part of a wider sightseeing weekend.
Kempton Park Racecourse Fixtures
|Wednesday||6th Dec 2023||Floodlit||Flat / All Weather|
|Wednesday||13th Dec 2023||Floodlit||Flat / All Weather|
|Wednesday||20th Dec 2023||Floodlit||Flat / All Weather|
|Tuesday||26th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
|Wednesday||27th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
Major Events at Kempton Park
Kempton is dual-purpose, and while the jumps races here take precedence the track does still host some pretty important Flat races on its all-weather surface too.
Major Jumps Races
|Novices’ Hurdle||Novices’ Hurdle, 4yo+, Listed Race||2m||Jump Sunday||October|
|Hurdle||Hurdle, 4yo+, Listed Race||2m||Jump Sunday||October|
|Kempton Mares’ Hurdle||Hurdle, Mares Only, Listed Race||3m½f||November Jump Racing||November|
|Kauto Star Novices’ Chase||Novices’ Chase, Grade 1||3m||Christmas Festival||December|
|Christmas Hurdle||Hurdle, Grade 1||2m||Christmas Festival||December|
|King George VI Chase||Chase, Grade 1||3m||Christmas Festival||December|
|Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase||Novices’ Chase, Grade 2||2m||Christmas Festival||December|
|Desert Orchid Chase||Chase, Grade 2||2m||Christmas Festival||December|
|Silviniaco Conti Chase||Chase, Grade 2||2m4½f||Lanzarote Hurdle Day||January|
|Lanzarote Hurdle||Handicap Hurdle, Listed Race||2m5f||Lanzarote Hurdle Day||January|
|Adonis Juvenile Hurdle||Hurdle, 4yo Only, Grade 2||2m||Coral Trophy Day||February|
|Pendil Novices’ Chase||Novices’ Chase, Grade 2||2m4½f||Coral Trophy Day||February|
|Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle||Novices’ Hurdle, Grade 2||2m||Coral Trophy Day||February|
|Coral Trophy||Handicap Chase, Grade 3||3m||Coral Trophy Day||February|
Major Flat Races
|Magnolia Stakes||4yo+, Listed Race||1m2f||Magnolia Stakes Day||March|
|Queen’s Prize||Handicap, Class 2||2m||Magnolia Stakes Day||March|
|Road to the Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes||Conditions Race, 3yo Only, Class 2||1m||Floodlit Racing||March|
|Rosebery Handicap||Handicap, 4yo+, Class 2||1m3f||Easter Family Fun Day||March/April|
|Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes||Fillies & Mares, Listed Race||1m||Easter Family Fun Day||March/April|
|Sirenia Stakes||2yo Only, Group 3||6f||September Stakes Day||September|
|September Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||1m4f||September Stakes Day||September|
|London Mile Series Final||Handicap, Class 2||1m||September Stakes Day||September|
|Hyde Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||1m||Floodlit Racing||November|
|Wild Flower Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||1m4f||Floodlit Racing||November/December|
About Kempton Park Racecourse
It is said that back in 1870, having taken a carriage ride with his wife, businessman SH Hyde spotted Kempton Manor and Park for sale.
Hyde was to lease the grounds in 1872 and had the idea of putting on horse racing in the area. In 1878, Hyde opened Kempton as a racecourse.
Racing on the ground making steadily more and more popular as time went on, with facilities gradually improving and more and more races being planned in.
For a long time, the Easter meeting at Kempton across Saturday and Monday was one of Britain’s racing highlights. For a long time, the turf track hosted the Roseberry Stakes and the 2000 Guineas Trial on the first day and then the Queen’s Prize and the 1000 Guineas Trial on the Monday.
The Guineas trial races were later removed, but the jewel in the crown for Kempton was their jump racing highlight, the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
Kempton was closed temporarily for ten months between May 2005 and March 2006 while the turf Flat course was ripped up and replaced with a new, all-weather Polytrack surface.
This has led to Kempton being able to stage many, many race meetings under floodlights while also keeping its most prestigious Flat races including the September Stakes.