Taunton Racecourse is a very popular National Hunt venue in Orchard Portman, close to Taunton in Somerset.
The track is situated just over thirty miles away from the stables of multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls who sends some decent novices to the venue each season.
While a number of British Racecourses closed including Bogside, Hurst Park, Manchester, Rothbury and others during the period, from the time Taunton was opened in 1927 it remained the last newly opened racecourse in Britain until Great Leighs (now Chelmsford City) in 2008.
- Address – Taunton Racecourse, Orchard Portman, Taunton, Somerset, TA3 7BL.
- Owner – Taunton Racecourse Company Ltd.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Taunton is a right-handed track which is known to be tight and sharp in nature.
Allowing for the fast pace often on show, fences here aren’t big at all for chasers in fact they are among the easiest in the country, however owing to horses going off too quickly here a sound jumper is still necessary.
Hurdle races can be particularly quick around here, ground allowing of course, while the steeplechasers face four fences down the back and three in the straight across what is a simple layout.
The biggest problem fed back by jockeys to have ridden at Taunton is that fields tend to start racing in earnest too early around this track.
That is one reason, along with the downhill run towards the third-last fence, as well as the penultimate hurdle, that some horses do come a cropper here regardless of the experience of the jockey.
As a punter you may need a little bit of luck here, as those quirks have meant that even some of the very good novices to start out at Taunton can be and have been beaten. If you see a proven Taunton type, even in a low-grade race, it may be the type to stick to betting-wise.
Visiting Taunton Racecourse
Taunton has plenty of different areas for racegoers, each with good facilities. There is a Paddock Stand for annual members, the Portman Stand including its bar and buffet, the Orchard Stand and restaurant, the Taunton End as well as the Staplemead Suites and other private boxes.
How to Get to Taunton
Taunton Racecourse sits on the B3170, the road from Taunton to Corfe and Honiton. The track is just two miles from the centre of Taunton and is well signposted. From the M5, take junction 25 and head towards Taunton before seeing the signs.
When using the A303 from the west, including from Honiton and Exeter, turn onto the B3170 which will take you directly to the racecourse.
From the east, use the A303 then head right at the Eagle Cross Tavern. Continue on until coming to the crossroads, then head right and follow the B3170 to the track.
Although the racecourse is only a couple of miles south of the centre of Taunton, there is only limited public bus services so taxis are the better option. There is however a courtesy bus on race days.
The courtesy bus departs from the platform 5 side of the railway station, taking visitors directly to the racecourse entrance. When using the bus at the train station, a return ticket will be issued allowing you priority access to the bus heading back from the course after the final race.
If you’re using the train to get to Taunton, connections are available though direct services come in from Cardiff Central, Edinburgh Waverley, Exeter St Davids, Glasgow Central, London Paddington, Plymouth and more.
Where to Stay
There should be enough rooms in and around Taunton to satisfy demand, however if you are looking for somewhere larger to stay then Exeter is only around 35 miles away, while there are also easy links to Bristol which is 50 miles up the road.
Taunton Racecourse Fixtures
|Thursday||14th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
|Saturday||30th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
About Taunton Racecourse
As with the majority of famous horse racing areas, Taunton has hosted the sport in various places during the course of history and in this case has done so since the 1700’s.
Races initially were held at Broomhay, West Monkton, coming to an end in 1812. The Napoleonic Wars took place during this period which may have been a factor.
11 miles to the north is Bridgwater and this is where racing next took place in the area, but was brought back to Taunton in 1825. The site of the racecourse is now where the King’s College stands and at the times was seen as one of the better race tracks around.
Back then, the races were held over two days at the start of September but the site was hit by very heavy rain in 1838. That washed out the meeting and a couple of years later, the meet moved to Trull Moor. Racing continued at Trull Moor for 15 more years until moving back to Bridgwater, stopping after war broke out in 1914.
Although held in London, a meeting formed the new Taunton Racecourse Company in 1927 with a view to creating a new course on land already identified.
With the racecourse quickly put together and a meeting organised, the first fixture was able to be held on September 21, 1927. Incredibly, Taunton Racecourse remained the last newly-opened racetrack in Britain for 81 years until Great Leighs came along.
A wooden stand was used initially, a structure than usually stood among huge puddles and lots of mud, though over the course of many years facilities at Taunton were gradually improved.
The Orchard Stand and the Paddock Stand, these days housing members, are of such standard that when racing isn’t taking place, conferences and other meetings do which is something that provides a revenue stream for the track.
Nowadays, Taunton is best known as a track that attracts some decent novices in the early part of the jumps season proper.
The 2005 Triumph Hurdle winner Penzance and top-class chaser Well Chief took in Taunton before going on to bigger things, while Oslot won a maiden hurdle here in 2006 before winning the valuable Galway Plate in 2008.