Kempton Park Racecourse

Address:
Kempton Park Racecourse, Sunbury on Thames, TW16 5AQ - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01932 782292
Kempton Park Sign
Kempton Park (John Light / geograph.org.uk)

Kempton Park racecourse is located on the border of Greater London and as well as hosting racing it is also a fully licenced entertainment and conference facility, as well as being home to a weekly market and seasonal wedding fairs. The course itself is positioned on a 210-acre grassland site, which is bordered by beautiful, picturesque woodland and has a number of lakes in the middle.

Local businessman S. H. Hyde leased the grounds in 1872 before opening it as a racecourse six years later and it has been used as such ever since. The course was closed for nearly a year as of May 2005 and was later reopened as a brand new all-weather synthetic track with floodlights, which allows racing to take place in all but the most severe of weather conditions.

Kempton is in a fantastic location for access as it is less than one mile from Junction 1 of the M3, which can be accessed via Junction 12 of the M25. Not only this but it is just a 25-minute drive form Heathrow and 45 minutes from Gatwick, for those who want to visit as soon as they land. Kempton Park has its own train station on site, which is just 200 yards from the main entrance and is served by direct and frequent trains from London Waterloo.

Ticket Prices

Ticket prices at Kempton Park are very reasonable, with entry for adults to the paddock starting from just £12. Those under the age of 18 are allowed free entry when accompanied by a full paying adult, whilst full time students are offered half price entry upon the production of valid identification.

In terms of senior prices, those eligible are encouraged to join the Diamond Club, which costs a one-off £10 and guarantees £5 discount for entry to every subsequent race meeting. Alternatively, a £4 discount is offered without Diamond Club membership if preferred.

The Course

Kempton Park installed an all-weather track in 2006 to be used for flat racing but it retained the use of its turf National Hunt course. Able to offering two radically different challenges, Kempton is rather unusual in this regard.

The polytrack flat course is oval in shape featuring two loops. The outer oval measures 1m2f in circumference, whilst the inner oval is just 1m long. The entire course is surrounded by 42 floodlight poles, which allow evening races to take place and these are a key feature of Kempton’s offering.

Different in surface, shape and length is the National Hunt course. The almost triangular circuit measures around 1m5f in “circumference” and is both flat and level throughout. The steeplechase course consists of 10 relatively easy fences, three of these coming in the home straight before a run-in measuring 1f.

The hurdles course on the other hand contains six flights with two in the final straight. On ground that is soft or worse, both jumps courses offer a greater stamina test than might be otherwise expected.

Draw Key Over Five Furlongs

Without a straight course on site, sprinters at Kempton face a long sweeping turn shortly after exiting the stalls in both five and six furlong races. Minimum distance events use the inner loop while in longer sprints, horses start further up the course and take on the outer loop. By doing so, six furlong runners end up with a significantly longer home straight, lengthy enough to remove a considerable amount of draw bias.

It’s a completely different story for five furlong events as once completing the turn, horses have less than two furlongs before reaching the winning post. It’s a place where races are won and lost very early on as for those that miss out on a prominent spot by the rail, there’s not enough track to make amends. Unsurprisingly then, there’s a strong bias favouring inside runners who are perfectly positioned to take on the vitally important bend.

In five furlongs races with at least eight runners, low drawn horses won 70 of 183 races compared with 61 for mid-drawn and 52 for high drawn. Impact Value (IV) makes the advantage a little clearer, with low runners posting 1.29 compared to 0.98 for mid and 0.78 for high.

Not only is being by the inside rail enough but horses must take up a prominent position too. Pace analysis shows us that Kempton hugely favours early leaders over five furlongs, much more so than over six furlongs or further, with this obviously related to the ability to gain the best position on the rail.

Prominent Tactics Not as Important Elsewhere

There’s no denying that over five furlongs, Kempton favours the speedier type but pace analysis shows it’s not that much of a front runners’ course for other distances. There is a caveat to this though. Nine and ten furlong events are both run on the inner loop and its significantly shorter run-in does mean that prominent tactics remain a fairly valuable tactic.

All other races take place on the outer loop though and, for these – especially one mile contests and above – it’s possible to win from anywhere in the field. Data actually points out that over 11 furlongs, jockeys are best advised waiting in the midfield before launching an attack later on.

Major Meetings at Kempton Park

Sire De Grugy
Sire De Grugy (Dan Heap / flickr.com)

The most prestigious race, which takes place each year, is the King George VI Chase and this has been run on Boxing Day since 1937, over a distance of 3m. Also on Boxing Day is the Feltham Novice’s Chase, which started in 1982 and is also competed over a distance of 3m.

The day after Boxing Day sees the Desert Orchid Chase which covers just 2m and first started in 2006. The most recent winner of the race (in 2013) was the highly regarded horse Sire de Grugy, winner of the British Jump Racing Horse of the Year in 2014.

Dining and Hospitality

Kempton Park
Kempton Park (James Emmans / geograph.org.uk)

There are a large number hospitality packages available from Kempton Park, with four price ranges to choose from, ranging from £69 to £119 + VAT per person. Alternatively, visitors are offered the opportunity to dine in the Panoramic Restaurant, with menu prices ranging from £69 to £89, depending on what race meeting it is and how many courses customers opt for.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches