Everything you need to know about Kempton racecourse
Last updated & tested: 2020-01-08
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Despite a history going back to 1878, the racecourse at Kempton Park is to close by 2021. There are many tracks in and around Greater London, particularly in Surrey where this one is and nearby Berkshire. Because of that, many of the famous Kempton races in the National Hunt sphere are likely to be transferred to nearby Sandown. That is outside the town of Esher, whilst Kempton is in Sunbury-on-Thames. This is not the first time that there have been changes at this venue. The traditional Flat racecourse – Kempton has always been a dual-purpose track – was closed in 2005 and redevelopment work took place to turn that into an all-weather surface.
All Kempton races on the level are now contested on polytrack – synthetic underfoot conditions. What this means is that renewals of such races prior to that point can be discounted. Kempton horse racing results will soon lose all significance completely when the venue shuts. As it’s owned by The Jockey Club, however Kempton’s legacy will live on when it closes as the many memorable events will take place elsewhere. As we prepare to embrace these changes, now is the perfect time to recognise Kempton and talk about the what you can bet on there before the curtain finally comes down.
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The popular events to bet on at Kempton racecourse before it closes
As it’s a right-handed flat but sharp track, Kempton isn’t for every horse. Those suited by those conditions and an all-weather surface for the Flat really can perform time and again here. Before this venue finishes, let’s take a look at the Kempton races live from it until 2021:
Wish you were in Lanzarote in January?
The first major meeting of a calendar year at Kempton races is a Saturday card of National Hunt action in January. The feature race is the 2m 5f Lanzarote Hurdle, which is at Listed level. This used to be just over two miles but, given the lack of intermediate hurdle races in terms of distance between 2m and 3m at that point in the jumps season, when Kempton reopened it became raced over its current distance.
Named after the famous, if ill-fated hurdler Lanzarote, who won the 1974 Champion Hurdle and two renewals of the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, the race has lacked the same quality of entries since being changed in distance. Tea For Two, a stable star for trainer Nick Williams and ridden by stepdaughter Lizzie Kelly, is one notable modern winner of the Lanzarote Hurdle as he went on capture Grade 1 glory over fences. Supporting the Lanzarote are a number of handicaps over both fences and hurdles at varying distances. There is also a Listed chase over an extended 2m 4f.
Adonis, Dovecote and Pendil make for fun February fixture
All-weather Flat meetings are a regular feature at Kempton Park throughout February but towards the end of the month, there’s a Saturday card of National Hunt horse racing with three Grade 2 events for novices. The Adonis Juvenile Hurdle over two miles is a four-year-olds only race and is considered one of the key British trials for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival the following month.
Six horses have gone on to complete the Adonis and Triumph double with the most recent being Zarkandar in 2011. This race has also produced some very useful types that trained on in Well Chief (2003), Punjabi (2007) and Binocular (2008), who all subsequently won either the Arkle Challenge Trophy or Champion Hurdle respectively.
The Pendil Novices’ Chase, meanwhile, is over an extended 2m 4f and named for dual King George VI Chase hero Pendil. In principle, this is a trial for the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but in practice this race is often run a little too close to that event. Remittance Man landed the Pendil spoils in 1991, then dropped back in trip to follow-up in the Arkle and later became the champion two-miler chaser.
That just leaves the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle – the last trial for the Supreme at Cheltenham. Again, the close proximity of this 2m race to the Festival’s curtain-raiser means while Dovecote winners do go on to contest the championship, no horse has doubled up successfully since 1992. Sire de Grugy, a stable star of Gary Moore’s, is the most high-profile winner of the Dovecote in recent years, but is better known for his exploits over fences.
Supporting these novice events is a 3m Grade 3 handicap chase that has had a host of sponsors down the years. It is supposed to be Kempton’s Grand National trial and in its early years had famous winners like the aforementioned Pendil and Crisp. Rough Quest (1996) is one of two horses to have followed-up in the Aintree showpiece after landing this. The other was Rhyme ‘n’ Reason (1988).
All-Weather action in and around Easter
Before big changes to the end of the all-weather season and the introduction of a champions day on Good Friday at Lingfield, it was Kempton that played host to a cracking Easter weekend card on the Saturday. This has changed, however, and only some of the notable polytrack events have survived. These now take place either side of the four-day Bank Holiday weekend on either the Saturday before Easter or the one after.
The Magnolia Stakes and Roseberry Handicap can thus be held in either March or April. Everything depends on when Easter – a Christian festival that has no fixed date – falls. Open to four-year-olds and up, the 1m 2f Magnolia can be used by older sorts who need a prep run before the Flat turf season gets underway properly in April. As for the Roseberry, this is now a 1m 3f handicap open to similar horses.
In April, the Listed 1m Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes is another four-year-olds and up race for fillies and mares run at Kempton. Anything saddled by Italian trainer Marco Botti is well worth a second look in this females only contest as he had three consecutive race winners between 2015 and 2017. Four-year-olds have by far the best record in the Snowdrop.
September Stakes starts autumn off right
Kempton is pretty quiet during the summer months when it comes to top-class horse racing. However, come the start of autumn, there’s a couple of great group races on the all-weather. The September Stakes over 1m 4f is a Group 3 for horses aged three and up that can be used as a prep run for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Four-year-olds have the best record in this race.
There’s also a Group 3 for juveniles, the 6f Sirenia Stakes. John Gosden is the most successful active trainer in this one after winning the race three times, including with Kessaar in 2018 – who then followed-up in another two-year-old only race at Newbury.
November has Floodlit highlight
Twilight cards under the floodlights are a popular part of all-weather racing. Kempton is no exception in November with the feature Floodlit Stakes a Listed event over 1m 4f and open to horses aged three and over. Saeed bin Suroor has trained four winners of this event, including a dead-heat. Three-year-olds get weight-for-age from their elders in the Floodlit, and that’s common on both polytrack and turf races for the Flat.
The Hyde Stakes is another Listed all-weather event at Kempton, but over a mile. Jim Crowley has ridden four winners, including one dead-heat. The weight-for-age terms are more favourable to older horses here than in the Floodlit. That just leaves the Wild Flower Stakes which completes the Listed races in November run here. Also over 1m 4f, there’s a 5lb weight-for-age allowance that four-year-olds and above must give to younger horses here.
Christmas meeting oozes class with King George
By far the most important Kempton horse racing results are those events that take place on the two days after Christmas. Boxing Day is the busiest day in this great sport with top class action on both sides of the Irish Sea. Headlining the Winter Festival at Kempton is the Grade 1 King George VI Chase over three miles. This serious stamina test has a roll of honour that reads like a who’s who of staying chasers.
Three multiple King George winners – Wayward Lad (1982, 1983 and 1985), Desert Orchid (1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990) and Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011) – all have races at this meeting named after them. Given those illustrious names, and many others who have gone on to Cheltenham Festival glory, this is perhaps the leading trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the UK.
The King George used to be a handicap in the 1960s, but has always attracted classy entries and the form has to be given the utmost respect going forward. Paul Nicholls is the most successful train in the race’s history, saddling three different horses to win it nine times between them.
There are two other Grade 1s on the Boxing Day card at Kempton. The Christmas Hurdle is a 2m event that is the second leg of the Triple Crown of Hurdling – between the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle. This Christmas Hurdle is not to be confused with the 3m race carrying the same name that happens at Leopardstown just a couple of days later.
While the Triple Crown of Hurdling is seldom attempted these days, and just Kribensis and Buveur d’Air have managed it, the Christmas Hurdle has had seven dual winners down the years. Kribensis is joined by the likes of Lanzarote, Binocular and Faugheen on that list. Nicky Henderson is the top trainer in this race, saddling six different horses to victory seven times.
The Kauto Star Novices’ Chase is another 3m event over fences on Boxing Day that in recent years has produced subsequent Cheltenham Festival winners Long Run, Dynaste and Coneygree. All of this Group 1 form is very useful for punters when considering the four-day National Hunt extravaganza in the Cotswolds come mid-March.
On December 27 – day two of the King George meeting – there are a couple of Grade 2 chases over two miles. One is for novices and the other open company. The Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase has produced some great horses in this division. Many of those were trained by Henderson, who has a record nine wins.
And the Desert Orchid Chase is the newest of these top class races over the festive period at Kempton. Inaugurated in 2006, it is often targeted by the same horses year after year. That explains why there are already a couple of dual winners of this event. The Desert Orchid replaced the Castleford Chase at Wetherby as a Grade 2, so that event has since been run as a handicap.
Who is the best bookmaker to bet on Kempton races live?
With so much horse racing on at Kempton over both jumps and on the Flat, you are never short on things to bet on. When it comes to taking a punt, however, which of the many online bookies will serve you best. Although the King George is now sponsored by 32Red, that is predominantly a casino with sportsbook attached. While that firm is associated with plenty of horse racing across both spheres, it’s William Hill, who use to sponsor the big staying chase and festive meeting here, that fits the bill for taking your bets nicely.
With flash odds – temporary price boosts only available for a short while on hot favourites – on offer every day and a number of extra place races, there’s lots to be excited about. Daily bet boots join regular offers like their 2 Clear bonus for Flat racing on terrestrial TV and the High 5 promotion for those National Hunt events screened live in the UK. Couple these offers and bonuses with the regular best odds guaranteed for all British and Irish horse racing, and there’s a really impressive overall package for betting on the horses through William Hill. These promotions are providing you with real value at any racecourse, not just Kempton!
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The best place to get Kempton racing tips is right here
Just like the glut of bookmakers offering Kempton odds, there are plenty of tipsters out there to listen to if you’re seeking a bit of betting advice for King George or September Stakes. Many of those so-called experts simply put forward a name. At OpenOdds, however, that simply will not do. We want you, our readers, to understand why a particular horse has been put up for a race. That’s why we ask our tipsters to make a detailed case for the ones they fancy across a card or in a single race preview.
They will provide a NAP, NB and best each-way punt on a single day’s racing. If it’s just one race preview, however, then we’ll also highlight horses that are a danger and worth considering backing each-way as well as a main selection. That’s what you can expect from the Kempton racing tips here. We’ll highlight which bookmakers have the best odds, but please remember this is at the time of writing and the market is subject to considerable and constant fluctuation right down to the off. We also make sure our experts provide a risk assessment for all bets they’re putting up. Our Kempton racing tips and those given for any other course have how risky the punts we recommend are on a simple scale of one to 10.
Tips for races at Kempton
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Some expert advice on all things Kempton races
When you’re betting on the horses, you need access to a site that does more than just tell you the latest Kempton horse racing results. Just like the latest entries, news and weights, these all need setting in their proper context. Here at OpenOdds, we take a betting first approach to all the happening in horse racing. What do developments or a non-runner mean for the market? That’s precisely what you as a punter need to know. You can find all that and more through our dedicated news service. Our experts have got their fingers on the pulse for all the latest horse racing information.
If you’re new to betting, then we also extending a helping hand to you. Visit our glossary section to get yourself fully acquainted with all the horse racing lingo and betting terminology that has built up around this great sport. There are easy to read articles that explain all these things and leave you better educated before taking a punt on the horses. Everyone needs a leg up when they’re a betting newbie. Thanks to us, there’s no need to figure things out on your own. Want to know the difference between a placepot and a patent? That’s precisely the sort of thing you can learn through us and visiting the OpenOdds glossary section.