Taunton Racecourse

Orchard Portman, Taunton, Somerset, TA3 7BL - Map & Directions
01823 337172
Taunton Grandstand
Taunton Grandstand (Roger Cornfoot / geograph.org.uk)

Based in Somerset in the southwest of England, Taunton racecourse holds the honour of being the most recently opened National Hunt track in the UK, having held its first meeting in September 1927. Racing took place in the area prior to this date, but moved to the current site after the newly founded Taunton Racecourse Company acquired the land. When the course first opened there was just one wooden terrace available to shelter spectators, however over the years much refurbishment has taken place, with the erection of three brand new stands, including the new AP McCoy stand. Initially the soil at Taunton often prevented water drainage, which led to regular heavy going, but the building of the nearby M5 and landscaping alterations have seen this problem improve dramatically and Taunton now presents a more consistent variety in going.

Taunton racecourse is located just two miles south of Taunton town centre and those travelling by car are encouraged to leave the M5 at J25 and travel towards Taunton, where the racecourse is well signposted. Alternatively, Taunton railway station is only three miles away from the course, which may be too far to walk for many customers, however a courtesy bus service is in operation on race days with return tickets available at a reasonable rate.

Ticket Prices

Admission prices at Taunton come in two categories – grandstand entry starts at £14 whilst access to the centre course and picnic enclosure is available from just £10. There are a number of packages on offer as well, which include benefits such as race cards, food and drink, and these start from as little as £30 with group packages also available.

These prices reflect tickets that are bought on the day, with discounts available for those who buy online in advance. Car parking at Taunton is free of charge, as is entry to all customers under the age of 16 when accompanied by a full paying adult, although some proof of age may be required.

The Course

Taunton Jumps Racecourse Map

Taunton Racecourse is exclusively a National Hunt track and all races are run right-handed around a 1m2f oval. The course is predominantly flat all over, with some very small undulations spread evenly throughout. The steeplechase course consists of seven fences – three of which come in the home straight. Traditionally the obstacles have been regarded as easy but they are harder than most think, especially being located on a stiff track.

A slight decline heading into the final fence sees the pace upped during the end of races, creating an exciting spectacle but a potentially problematic experience for novice jumpers. The hurdles course has just five flights per circuit, with two of them coming in the home straight. Conditions rarely get testing on either course with winter ground here typically better than most courses in the country. This all combines to make Taunton very much one of the fairer courses around.

Strong Pace Bias

That said, the bias favouring front runners at Taunton is virtually as strong as it gets with only Hexham displaying greater favouritism towards those prominently ridden. A look at two-mile handicaps reveals that front runners won 33.3% of the time, giving them an impact value of 2.42.

When taking into account the pace average at Taunton, this impact value increases to 3.03, in other words meaning that early leaders are three times more likely to prevail than the rest. By being able to identify a horse who is likely to get into an early lead, especially in shorter distance events, you’ll stand a much better chance of finding the winner and this is certainly not a course where hold-up horses should be backed without really good reason.

Irrigation Improvements

In 2012, Taunton Racecourse took top prize at the Racecourse Groundstaff of the Year Awards, recognising the efforts of their small team. Critical to winning the award was the improvements to the irrigation system.

Although Taunton has long had a reputation for having decent ground in winter, they often had issues with the clay soil becoming too firm later in the year. The introduction of the Briggs boom system went a fair way to resolving this though and there was also great progress made improving previously sparse grass coverage.

Major Meetings at Taunton

Meeting at Taunton
Meeting at Taunton (Ian T / geograph.org.uk)

Taunton hosts 14 race meetings each calendar year between the months of November and April. A lot of the races at Taunton are sponsored, for example the 3m1f Winning Post Red Ale Handicap Hurdle. As well as this, Taunton is particularly famous for dedicating races to people associated with the track and horse racing in general, such as the Happy 76th Birthday Doreen Fussell Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase, which took place in November 2014.

Dining and Hospitality

Course at Taunton
Course at Taunton (Derek Harper / geograph.org.uk)

Restaurant tables in the hospitality suites at Taunton start from just £58 per person, with prices increased for those who wish to be seated by a window. Hospitality suites cater for parties consisting of 12 to 150 people, with a lunch for 10 priced at £795 + VAT, whilst a buffet for 35 is available for just £2000 + VAT. More information about prices and availability of hospitality suites can be found by contacting the racecourse directly, with the prices above the examples available at the time of writing.


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