There has been racing around Plumpton since way back in 1884, with the East Sussex venue now a popular National Hunt track. Plumpton’s winter meetings remain popular, the highlight of the season being the Sussex National.
- Address – Plumpton Racecourse, Plumpton, East Sussex, BN7 3AL.
- Owner – Plumpton Racecourse Ltd.
- TV Station – Sky Sports Racing.
- Type – National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Plumpton’s jumps track is left-handed, undulating and rather tight. Those ridges and hills however don’t take away from the fact that the sharp nature of the course allows an advantage to being ridden handily.
For one reason or another, there is a high fall rate on the chase course so you’re looking for a very sure jumper over the bigger obstacles. On the hurdles track, races often get going too early, meaning some stamina is required rather than just speed, though those racing near the front tend to remain in pole position.
There are two hurdles on the back side of the course and three in the straight, while each circuit of the chase course features six fences – three down the back and three on the straight.
Experienced jump jockeys tend to think a solid jumper is needed at Plumpton first and foremost, with their minds focused on the fences before anything else.
Novice chasers are perhaps best avoided – keep those races as a watching brief – as some obstacles can catch horses out.
The opportunity to steal a bit of ground from the front has been reported regularly by jockeys, so look for horses who can naturally lead or race at least in the vanguard for much of the contest.
Visiting Plumpton Racecourse
Plumpton Racecourse sits in a rather rural area, ideal for such visitors who want to explore nature more than the big city lights.
Make sure you have travel plans in place to get to the racecourse before you plan your trip and before you decide on exactly where to base yourself.
How to Get to Plumpton Racecourse
If you’re driving to Plumpton using the M25, leave at junction 7 and then follow the M23 for Crawley and Gatwick Airport. Join the A23 and continue towards Brighton, leaving at the A273 signed for Hassocks. Follow that road for a mile or so before moving into the B2112 towards Ditchling. Turn onto the B2116 towards Plumpton and follow the signs for the racecourse.
From the Brighton area, follow the A23 north and then head onto the A273 to Hassocks before following the same directions as above.
From Eastbourne and Hastings, head along the A27 west until reaching the Ashcombe roundabout. Exit for Lewes and Haywards Heath on the A275 and then go left onto the A277 for Haywards Heath and East Grinstead. Turn left onto the B2116 and follow the same directions as above.
You can also get to Plumpton by train. Plumpton’s train station in fact adjoins the grounds of the racecourse, with the course entrances being only around a three-minute walk away. Services from London Victoria and Eastbourne/Hastings are regular, with connections being plentiful.
Where to Stay
This is the major sticking point with Plumpton. Rooms are not exactly plentiful close to the track, with limited hotel space showing up in small towns nearby.
If you have organised travel, the best option is to stay in Brighton, the centre of which is only 14 miles and 30 minutes away by car.
Plumpton Racecourse Fixtures
|Monday||18th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
The Sussex National
Plumpton’s biggest day comes over the New Year period with the bank holiday Sussex National. The Sussex National is a Class 3 handicap chase. It is run over 3 miles, 4½ furlongs and is worth a cool £30,000.
The Sussex National is very popular with owners, trainers and jockeys and so is well supported each year. 20 fences are jumped during the marathon trip, adding to the excitement for the usually large crowd, the racing standing as the absolute feature race of Plumpton’s calendar.
The race is usually backed up by six other races on the card, with the holiday atmosphere adding to what is a fantastic day’s racing each year.
Plumpton Racecourse History
February 11, 1884 marks the date for the first ever official race meeting at Plumpton. The very first event was a hunters’ selling hurdle. The first meeting was an initial success and more were quickly planned.
In 1885, six days of racing were held at the track. A first two-day meeting was put in place for December 15th and 16th 1885 and by now the appetite for racing within the local community had been well and truly whetted.
With Northampton Racecourse defunct in 1904, the Tattersalls Grandstand was transferred from there to Plumpton as crowds increased. This marked an extension of the racing programme here to eight days throughout the year.
Plumpton’s popularity continues and by 1947, the race programme had increased to nine different meetings per season.
In 1967 a new members’ stand was opened. The then Regency Stand was a big hit, but is these days known as the Sussex Stand. This was followed in 1987 by the building and opening of the Pavilion Stand, eventually renamed and known now as the Southdown Stand.
In 1998 the track was bought by Peter Savill, then a prolific racecourse owner and operator, alongside Captain Adrian Pratt although it has changed hands again since then.
These days the track continues to do well, especially in the specialist horse racing TV era meaning more exposure for Plumpton. The Sussex National is particularly well supported with many southern trainers, especially Gary Moore, sending horses to the track on a regular basis.