Chepstow Racecourse

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Chepstow
Chepstow Racing & Events logo.jpg
Location Chepstow, Monmouthshire
Coordinates 51°39′23″N 2°41′19″W / 51.65639°N 2.68861°W / 51.65639; -2.68861Coordinates: 51°39′23″N 2°41′19″W / 51.65639°N 2.68861°W / 51.65639; -2.68861
Owned by Arena Racing Company
Screened on At The Races
Course type Flat
National Hunt
Official website

Chepstow Racecourse is a thoroughbred horse racing course located just north of the town of Chepstow in Monmouthshire, Wales, near the southern end of the Wye Valley and close to the border with England.

Track and facilities[edit]

Chepstow racecourse

The track is a roughly oval circuit of just under 2 miles (3,200 m). It is a left-handed undulating course, used for both flat and jump racing. The finishing straight is about 5 furlongs (3,300 ft; 1,000 m) in length, with five fences on the chase course to be jumped. There is also a straight mile course.

There are 28 fixtures in the 2012 calendar year. It is one of three racecourses in Wales, the others being at Bangor-on-Dee and at Ffos Las. It is also used as a venue for numerous other indoor and outdoor events, such as weddings and conferences.[1]

History[edit]

Several places in South Wales had race meetings in the late nineteenth century and there had been racing at St Arvans, very close to the present course, between 1892 and 1914.[2] In 1925 a group of ten South Wales gentry and businessmen, that included Courtenay Morgan, 1st Viscount Tredegar who was also Lord-Lieutenant of Monmouthshire, and Lord Queenborough;[3] formed a company to purchase Piercefield House, and lay out a new racecourse in its estate. Despite struggling to raise enough cash, the racecourse was opened on 6 August 1926. The first race was a two-year-old seller won by Lord Harewood's colt Conca D'Oro, the 7-4 favourite. The two day flat race meeting had good prize money and was termed "The Welsh Goodwood".[2]

The course nearly had to close down immediately after the first meeting and survived only thanks to a large bank loan guaranteed by the directors. Unforeseen extra costs in laying it out meant that it struggled financially for the first ten years of its existence and yet more contributions were needed from the directors. The first jump racing took place in March 1927. Since then the course has been used for flat racing in the summer and jumping in the winter. To begin with, the flat racing was more prestigious, with the Welsh Derby, Oaks and St Leger being run for good prize money. In 1933, at a two day meeting, the multiple champion jockey Gordon Richards won eleven consecutive races at Chepstow – all six races on the first day and the first five races on the next, before being beaten in a close finish in the final race of the meeting.[2]

RAF Chepstow[edit]

During the Second World War, the entire site became designated as RAF Chepstow, an operational outpost of RAF St. Athan, No. 32 Maintenance Unit RAF. Equipped with only a grass runway in the centre of the course, additional aircraft accommodation for bombers was created at Oakgrove on the opposite side of the road, accessed by stopping the traffic to allow the aircraft to cross. Types stationed on the course during the war included:[4]

Post WW2[edit]

After the war, and the demise of the nearby Caerleon course, the Welsh National was transferred to Chepstow in 1949. From this point National Hunt racing overtook flat racing as the dominant activity as a string of good class horses and top trainers and jockeys contested the race.[2] The three and three-quarter mile race, more recently known as the Coral Welsh National, owes much to the support of the bookmaking firm for establishing it as one of the major events in the National Hunt calendar. They have sponsored it for forty years, making it the second longest continuous race sponsorship.[1]

Horse racing at Chepstow racecourse

The opening of the Severn Bridge and the completion of the M4 motorway made the course more accessible to English racegoers.[5]

The Clay family, which had bought Piercefield House in 1861, were involved with the management course since its formation.[2] Listed on the AIM stock market as a plc in the late 1990s, Sir Stanley Clarke built up an 80% stake in the company, and then reversed his existing Northern Racing racecourse holdings into the shell. Clarke took over as executive chairman of the Racecourse Company in 2000, resigning in 2003 before his death the following year from cancer.

Notable races[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Chepstow racecourse website
  2. ^ a b c d e Lucas, Pat. 1976. Fifty Years of Racing at Chepstow. SBN 901906 14 X
  3. ^ "Chepstow Racecourse". talkhorseracing.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-26. 
  4. ^ Neil Widdas (2005). "Chepstow Racecourse and the Royal Airforce 1941/42". piercefieldpark.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-26. 
  5. ^ Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel; Menna, Baines et al., eds. (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 376. ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6. 

External links[edit]