Click here for Chepstow Fixtures
Situated at the foot of the Wye Valley and just across the Severn Bridge from England, Chepstow is Wales’ biggest track and, though arguably best known as a jumps venue, has several fixtures on the Flat in spring and summer. The course is left-handed and just under 2m in circumference with several undulations. When the going is soft or heavy, it provides a real test of stamina. There is no draw advantage on the round course and it no longer appears that high numbers hold sway on the straight course either nowadays in races up to a mile with large fields often splitting into groups and racing down the centre of the track.
Racing was first staged at Chepstow in 1926 but there had been meetings held at nearby St Arvans as early as 1892. The Welsh Derby, Welsh Oaks and Welsh St Leger were staged at the track in the 1930s but national hunt racing became the dominant code in 1949 when the Welsh National was moved from the now defunct Caerleon. The Group 3 Golden Daffodil Stakes was run at Chepstow between 1994 and 2005 but with its demise, the track lost its only pattern race on the level. Northern Racing has owned the course since the 1990s.
The entrance to the course can be found on the A466 Monmouth to Chepstow road. From the M4 East, take junction 21 or the M4 West, take junction 23 the follow the M48 to junction 2 signposted Chepstow. A shuttle bus operates on racedays from the nearest rail stations at Chepstow and Newport.
John Spearing and Andrew Balding’s runners generally do well on the course, while Sir Mark Prescott’s three-year-olds are often worth backing from June onwards. John O’Shea and Malcolm Saunders’ older horses also pop up at decent odds occasionally.
CHEPSTOW (NATIONAL HUNT)
National hunt racing became dominant at Chepstow in 1949 when the Welsh National was moved from the now defunct Caerleon and the Grade 3 handicap chase remains the highlight of Chepstow’s year. There have been some outstanding winners of the race including Gold Cup winners Burrough Hill Lad, Cool Ground, Master Oats and Synchronicity, while Earth Summit went on to win the Grand National at Aintree as did Silver Birch. The Grade 1 Finale Junior Hurdle is run on the same day as the Welsh National in late December and other notable national hunt races run at Chepstow include the Tote Silver Trophy and Persian War Novices’ Hurdle, run in October.
Proven stamina is a must in the Welsh National as it is invariably soft or heavy ground at Chepstow in December but recent good form and guaranteed fitness are just as important as most winners over the last 10 years finished in the first four in their previous run, though not always over fences, and that came since the beginning of November. Winners aged above nine are increasingly rare and most may have only had a couple of runs in handicaps, although form in Graded or Pattern chases is well worth following and pay particular attention to those chasers rated over 140.
Paul Nicholls is the leading trainer at the track but Philip Hobbs has a better strike rate and Richard Johnson, who rides most of his runners, is the jockey to follow. Nick Williams’ hurdlers also do well and local trainer Bernard Llewellyn’s runners are worth a second look in lower-grade handicaps.