Wincanton Racecourse

Address:
Wincanton Racecourse, Wincanton, Somerset, BA9 8BJ - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01963 32344
Wincanton Racecourse
Wincanton Racecourse (William / geograph.org.uk)

Wincanton racecourse is located in Somerset and from various parts of the course the historically beautiful natural valley known as Blackmore Vale is visible, so the track is extremely popular with visitors from all over the United Kingdom, not just for the entertaining race days but also for the sensational surroundings. After the First World War, a new racing company wanted to make horse racing more prominent in the local area so they purchased the current site and set about redeveloping the land, with the first meeting held in 1927. Wincanton is now owned by the Racecourse Holdings Trust, who acquired the lease in 1966, and they recently oversaw a £3m makeover which saw all aspects of the site modernised and improved to make the environment more accessible, enjoyable and comfortable for all involved.

Those electing to drive to Wincanton racecourse should note that the track is located one mile north of Wincanton town centre and can be found on the B3081 Shepton Mallet Road. Alternatively, the closest railway station to the course is Templecombe Station, which is frequented by services from Waterloo and Exeter, which is just four miles south of the racecourse. A courtesy bus service is regularly in operation on race days, taking customers to and from the station, meaning visitors do not need to worry about paying for taxi services.

Ticket Prices

Entry to the grandstand enclosure at Wincanton is priced at just £13, whilst access to the premier enclosure is available for £18. The most expensive general tickets at Wincanton are for the premier viewing area and prices for that section start from £23. Children under the age of 18 are allowed access to all enclosures free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult, although some proof of age is likely to be required.

The Course

Wincanton Grandstand
Wincanton Grandstand (William / geograph.org.uk)

Wincanton Racecourse only hosts National Hunt race meetings, over a course that is run right-handed. Flat throughout, there are no rises or falls on the track, which measures around 1m3f in circumference. The course is broadly rectangular in shape so its bends are a lot less gentle than most others in the country. When combined with ground firmer than good, this makes Wincanton one of the sharpest racecourses around but also one of the speediest too despite those sharp turns.

On testing going there’s a real emphasis on stamina, which leads to strung-out fields and low percentages of horses completing the race. This is particularly true on the hurdles course where races tend to be well-run regardless of conditions, resulting in some exhausted horses later on. Setting the right pace is the key thing to get right on the chase course too but jockeys must also deal with nine stiff fences including one water jump. The final three obstacles are situated in very close proximity prior to a short run-in, making it difficult to come from behind late on.

A True Speed Course

There’s no racing at Wincanton during the summer months but it’s a place no stranger to firm conditions. On occasions, things have been so firm that the racecourse has had to cancel meetings because it would have been too dangerous. Such instances should become less frequent now that the on-site watering system has been upgraded but nevertheless, Wincanton will remain a place where horses sometimes have the opportunity to clock a very fast time indeed.

When the going is good, or firmer, horses can truly fly over the hurdles and fences here. Recent examples include Cliffs of Dover who posted a rapid time of 3m 22.9s in a 1m 7f 56y Handicap Hurdle and Ulck Du Lin who comfortably won a two mile Handicap Chase after reaching the line in 3m 40.3s. Such well-run races mean that hold-up tactics very rarely pay off when the going is fast at Wincanton.

A front running strategy rules supreme here with the Somerset course one of the leading destinations for early leaders. When looking at two mile handicaps, front runners have an impact value of 2.97, meaning they are almost three times more likely to prevail than the rest of the field. Leading around the home bend is usually enough to do the job as those in front at this stage are the ones that end up first to the line far more often than not.

Major Meetings at Wincanton

Ruby Walsh, Jockey
Ruby Walsh, Jockey (DavyJonesLocker / Wikipedia.org)

The most prestigious race at Wincanton is arguably the Kingwell Hurdle, which has been run at the Somerset course since 1980. The hurdle race is open to horses aged four years old and above and is run over a distance of two miles each February, with eight fences to be cleared. The race is seen as an important trial for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, with many horses winning both, the most recent being Katchit in 2008.

Numerous famous jockeys have won the Kingwell Hurdle, including Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh (pictured here), with Nick Scholfield on board Melodic Rendezvous crowned the 2014 winner. Another famous race run at Wincanton is the CGA Chase, which takes place on the same day as the hurdle, and this is generally seen as a trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Many of the races from Wincanton are shown live on Channel 4, with around 17 meetings held each calendar year.

Dining and Hospitality

The restaurant packages at Wincanton start from just £57.95 + VAT per person. In terms of private boxes, prices start from just £90 + VAT per person and will increasing depending on choice of menu.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches