Newbury Racecourse

Address:
The Racecourse, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 7NZ - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01635 40015
Newbury Racecourse Sign
Newbury Racecourse Sign (Christine Matthews / geograph.org.uk)

Newbury racecourse has been hosting first class racing events for over 100 years, with the first official meeting on the current site taking place in September 1905. Newbury hosts the Lockinge Stakes, which is one of Great Britain’s 31 group 1 flat races, as well as hosting National Hunt rules meetings. Queen Elizabeth II spent her 86th birthday at a Newbury meeting, however neither of her horses had read the script and neither was able to win their race.

Newbury was home to an unfortunate incident in February 2011, in which two horses (Marching Song and Fenix Two) tragically died in the Paddock prior to racing, due to a leakage form an electrical cable causing cardiac arrest as a result of accidental electrocution. Other horses were affected but not fatally and racing for the day was abandoned after the first race. Another interesting and thankfully less gruesome fact about Newbury is that during WWII it was used as a prisoner of war camp for German prisoners.

There is a runway in the middle of the course suitable for light aircraft, whilst Newbury also has its own dedicated railway station, which is served directly and frequently by London Paddington. Those travelling by car should be aware that Newbury racecourse is just ten minutes form the M4 and is very easily accessible by both the M3 and the A34, although naturally private jet is the preferred method of arrival!

Ticket Prices

Entry to the grandstand at Newbury is priced at just £16, whilst premier access is available for as little as £24 per person. As at most courses in the UK, customers under the age of 18 are permitted entry free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult.

The Course

 

Hosting both flat and National Hunt meetings, the grade one course at Newbury is run left-handed, with a distance of 1m7f representing one complete circuit. The 4½f home straight makes up nearly a third of the entire distance, whilst an additional chute, used strictly for flat racing, gives the option of a mile long straight course if required. This lengthy 8f stretch is undulating right the way through but there are no steep inclines or declines.

With another long stretch down the far side, next to where the woodland lies, combined with some gentle bends, Newbury is very much a destination for long-striding gallopers. The steeplechase course consists of 11 well-presented fences, including a water ditch which is bypassed on the final lap, while the hurdles course features seven flights per circuit. For both National Hunt disciplines, there are rarely any real hard luck stories, with the best horse on the day usually the one that prevails on this very fair test of racing.

Stay Central

By most accounts, Newbury is a fair course but there is one element of bias in five and six furlong sprint races that appears to have gone under the radar somewhat. Having looked across 163 contests featuring 10 or more runners in recent years we can see that horses that start somewhere in the middle have performed considerably better.

Mid drawn runners are responsible for 71 wins with low drawn (45) and high drawn (47) a long way behind. Their superior record gives those starting centrally and Impact Value of 1.32 and is the only type of draw able to post a level stakes profit.

A look at the popular Weatherbys Super Sprint helps to illustrate our point further, a race that on average features about 24 runners. An inspection of the top four finishers in the race between 2006 and 2019, reveals a decent degree of favouritism towards those starting in the middle section of the pack.

Stalls 9-16 were responsible for 25 top four placers, significantly higher than stalls 1-8 (13) and stalls 17-24 (14). Picking a horse in such a well-attended race is never an easy task but by bearing the draw bias in mind, it may help trim down your selection a little and give you a little extra angle when assessing where the real value lies.

A Fair Test in Longer Races

There does appear to be some fairly unquestionable bias on the straight track at Newbury, especially over five and six furlongs but it’s otherwise a very fair place to ride at. There’s no bias to speak of on the round course and pace analysis shows us that you don’t have to be a prominent runner to perform here.

In fact, in 5f handicaps, Newbury is one of the best courses in the country for hold-up horses. For races over a mile in length, patient tactics are even more regularly rewarded, with the lengthy home straight giving jockeys plenty of time to pick their moment.

It’s a similar story for National Hunt contests, which is why Newbury stands a popular destination for trainers to send their classier horses. There’s little jockeying for position much of the time so horses are generally in for a smooth ride and are unlikely to lose due to bad luck in-running.

Even in larger fields, the width of the track minimises congestion, as do the gentle turns. The fences are as fair as they come too and offer few issues for even the most inexperienced of runners, as highlighted by the low causality rate.

Major Meetings at Newbury

Newbury from Station Footbridge
Newbury from Station Footbridge (David Martin / geograph.org.uk)

Easily the most prestigious race of the calendar year at Newbury is the Lockinge Stakes. Established in 1998, it is run over a distance of one mile and takes place each year in May. The Lockinge Stakes was named after a former civil parish located nearby and in 2011 it became part of the British Champions Series, which concludes with the Queen Elizabeth II stakes at Ascot in October. The winners of the stakes normally compete in the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot and in 2012 legendary horse Frankel won them both in the same year.

Dining and Hospitality

Newbury Racecourse
Newbury Racecourse (Stuart Logan / geograph.org.uk)

As well as being a venue for weddings, conferences and stag/hen parties, Newbury also offers private hospitality on race days. Private box prices depend on the popularity of the meeting, with prices starting from just £96 per person, though considerably more for the biggest meetings. Alternatively, customers are welcome to dine in the Hennessy restaurant, with the menu starting at £80 per person for adults, with reduced rates for children.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches