Everything You Need To Know About Newbury Racecourse
Last updated & tested: 2020-02-13
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Newbury races as we know them today date back in 1905 when the current racecourse opened. The first recorded Newbury horse racing was a century earlier, however, in the Enborne Heath area. It’s a left-handed galloping track with stiff fences for those National Hunt thoroughbreds tackling them. Flat racing is older than the jumps in Newbury events history, but the dual-purpose nature of the course ensures it gets used all year round. There is one Grade 1 hurdle and a single Group 1 race on the level held in the racing calendar here.
While there may be great depth of the very highest calibre racing elsewhere, the meetings put on by Newbury racecourse happen at key times in the season across both spheres. Some of the most absorbing staying handicaps in both Flat and National Hunt racing happen here, while there’s graded and group action galore meaning the elite always descend on this corner of Berkshire. Newbury Ladies Day is always a highlight during the summer, meanwhile, and it’s common to see horses that run at all meetings throughout the year go on to even bigger and better things at other racing festivals in the British Isles and beyond. The official UK trial for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe takes place here and you’ll find more details of specific racedays below.
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Popular Newbury racecourse events that you can take a punt or two on
While the winter months see National Hunt action over hurdles and fences take centre stage at Newbury races, there’s also a number of Flat meetings from April right through to the end of October. If you want to know what’s on and when, then buckle up! More details of all major Newbury events follow…
A bumper card on Betfair Hurdle day
Around a month or so out from the Cheltenham Festival, Newbury has one of its best single days of horse racing over jumps with a cracking card in February. Headlining this event is the Betfair Hurdle, a Grade 3 handicap over 2m that is ultra-competitive and hard for punters to pick the winner of. While the mighty Persian War landed this en route to Champion Hurdle glory in 1968, many horses find it hard to follow-up on running well at Cheltenham.
The supporting card is pretty special too. The Game Spirit Chase is an extended 2m test over fences for horses looking to content the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This was a Listed race and handicap early on in its history but, with graded status since 1992, it attracts many of the best in the two-mile division. Altior, Master Minded, Azertyuiop and Viking Flagship are all dual winners of this race. Other famous victors include Sprinter Sacre, Well Chief and Flagship Uberalles.
As for the extended 2m 7f Denman Chase, named in honour of the Paul Nicholls trained modern great staying chaser, this Grade 2 contest is form to be taken seriously for those with Cheltenham Gold Cup ambitions. The race has thrown up four subsequent winners of steeplechasing’s blue riband event including Denman himself. Native River is the only dual winner, while Coneygree and Kauto Star also triumphed en route to Festival glory.
It’s also worth looking at the winner of the Listed bumper or National Hunt Flat race known colloquially as the Winter Bumper. Some of the most highly-regarded future prospects in jumps racing turn out here and it has produced a subsequent Irish Grand National winner in Shutthefrontdoor.
Greatwood Gold and Mares’ Finale headline other jumps meetings
Later in February or sometimes in early March, a Saturday card at Newbury is headed by the Grade 3 Greatwood Gold Cup – a handicap chase over an extended 2m 4f. Some of notable winners have gone on to be real stayers in Big Fella Thanks, who was one of the most experienced horses over the Grand National fences at Aintree in modern time, and dual Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase hero Pacha Du Polder. Ditcheat trainer Nicholls has won the race eight times!
Later in March, meanwhile, another meeting features the Grade 2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Finale. This too is a handicap over an extended 2m 4f and is a series final for novice mares who have run in qualifying races. Six-year-olds have the best record in this race, while master trainer Nicky Henderson has saddled four previous winners.
Flat action takes over in April
As great as National Hunt is, Newbury horse racing becomes all about the Flat in April as we mentioned earlier. A superb card featuring three Group 3 contests all on the same day means the level gets off to a great start. The Fred Darling Stakes is a 7f test for three-year-old fillies only, while the Greenham Stakes over the same course and distance is open to both sexes that age.
What’s great about the Greenham is its roll of honour. Mill Reef, Danehill Dancer, Frankel and Kingman are all illustrious winners of that race who have made their presence in Flat horse racing felt. The John Porter Stakes, meanwhile, over 1m 4f is a chance for older horses to shine nowadays but was initially founded in the 1920s as a staying test for three-year-olds.
Despite changes to the race, including altering the distance before settling on 12 furlongs and the age of those who compete in it, no horse has ever won this event named after the trainer who helped create Newbury racecourse more than once. John Porter heroes are well worth a second look when considering events like the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and races open to older types at York’s Ebor Festival.
Lockinge the zenith for Newbury races
By far the most valuable and prestigious race run at Newbury is the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes over the straight mile for four-year-olds and up in May. This main event is usually run at a real gallop and Wassl famously dead-heated for jockey Willie Carson with Cormorant Wood in 1984. Three horses have won this twice with Pall Mall arguably the most famous in the late 1950s.
Some of the best milers of their generation landed the Lockinge. Top thoroughbreds like Brigadier Gerard, Cape Cross, Paco Boy, Farhh and Frankel. Godolphin are the most successful owners in the race’s history, seeing their world famous all-blue colours carried to victory on eight separate occasions.
The supporting card on Lockinge day is pretty damn good on its own too. There are two Listed races for three-year-olds; the Carnarvon Stakes is a 6f sprint, while the 1m 2f Fillies’ Trial gives those with Classic hopes the chance to prepare for The Oaks. Sea Of Class landed this race en route to Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks glory, so the form
Older horses also have their chance to shine in the Group 3 Aston Park Stakes over 1m 4f – recently shortened in trip from a furlong or so further. Sir Michael Stoute has saddled six winners of this, including Crystal Ocean who went on to land the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and chase home Poet’s Word in the King George at that other Berkshire venue.
Summer racing at Newbury not to be missed
On the middle Thursday in June, there’s a meeting that contains the Listed 1m 2f Abingdon Stakes for three-year-old fillies. The aforementioned Sea Of Class swerved Epsom for a crack at the Irish Oaks and landed this race as her prep run for that Classic contest.
In July, meanwhile, there’s a two-day event which sees Newbury racing at its best. On the Friday, the Listed 6f Rose Bowl Stakes for two-year-olds is one of two important juvenile races to watch. This contest produced subsequent 2000 Guineas winner and European champion colt Rodrigo de Triano and in more recent years Limato.
The Saturday has the other two-year-old race, the Super Sprint Stakes sponsored by horse racing administrators Weatherbys. This 5f dash is only open to those thoroughbreds sold publicly at certain bloodstock sales. The weight a juvenile carries in the Super Sprint is determined by the price at which it was sold making for a truly unique approach.
Supporting these races are the Listed 1m 2f Steventon Stakes open to all horses aged three and over, and the recently inaugurated JLT Cup – an extended 2m test for stayers with the same entries – which employs the traditional method of handicapping runners. The feature Group 3 Hackwood Stakes is an open age 6f sprint that’s in keeping with the theme of this Newbury meeting.
Newbury Ladies Day makes for an awesome August
Between Glorious Goodwood and the Ebor Festival in August is another of those two-day Newbury racecourse events built around the 7f Group 2 Hungerford Stakes. Before Ladies Day, Friday has the Listed 5f St Hugh’s Stakes as it’s big race – yet another juvenile sprint.
There’s another similar grade affair over 7f on the Saturday in the Denford Stakes, won by the likes of the aforementioned Rodrigo de Triano and Lammtarra en route to Classic glory the following year. Frankie Dettori is the most successful jockey in both these two-year-old contests.
Supporting the Hungerford is the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes over an extended 1m 5f. Although open to three-year-olds and up, horses that do well in this that are still in their Classic year have been known to step up in grade and distance to tackle the St Leger at Doncaster. Presenting and Sixties Icon are among those Geoffrey Freer winners to have had an influence on breeding.
As for the Hungerford itself, this is three-year-olds plus too. There was a dead heat here in 1994, while John Gosden is the most successful trainer with six wins and that many Dettori the top jockey again with as many victories. Paco Boy and Excelebration are notable subsequent sires to have won the Hungerford before being put out to stud.
September all about the Arc Trial and Mill Reef
Dubai Duty Free sponsor Newbury’s International Weekend – two more days of great Flat horse racing just after mid-September. The Friday has a valuable conditions race for juvenile colts and geldings won by the likes of Shergar and Nayef, with the feature race being the Listed 7f Dubai Duty Free Cup. Anything saddled by Saeed bin Suroor is well worth a second look here.
Day two of this meeting has the 1m 3f Group 3 Legacy Cup, better known as the Arc Trial as its big race. As an actual trial for France’s most famous race, it’s yet to produce a subsequent winner but hope springs eternal one day we might see it. The World Trophy over 5f is the other Group 3 on the card also open to horses aged three and over. Superb sprinter Mecca’s Angel was a rare three-year-old winner of this.
That just leaves the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes to mention. This 6f juvenile test is named after Mill Reef – one of the finest thoroughbreds seen on a Flat racecourse. He won the Epsom Derby, Coral-Eclipse, King George and Arc all in the same season. Father and son Dark Angel and Harry Angel won the Mill Reef nine years apart, which highlights the importance of sire’s course form and breeding before placing your bets.
There’s also a couple of Group 3 races in October at Newbury before the Flat season ends. The St. Simon’s Stakes over 1m 4f is one last chance for three-year-olds and up to tackle that higher-end middle-distance, while the 7f Horris Hill Stakes gives juvenile colts and geldings a final run before they’re put away for the winer.
Wonderful Winter Carnival a jumps highlight
Towards the end of November (and sometimes in the very first days of December), you know that National Hunt is back in full swing because of the great Newbury horse racing on offer at the Winter Carnival. The Hennessy Gold Cup was one of the longest-standing sponsorship deals in this sport of kings. However, it finally came to an end in 2017 and the big staying handicap needed a new partner.
We now call it the Ladbrokes Trophy, but this extended 3m 2f staying handicap chase is one of the best events of its type during the first half of the jumps season. Some of the all-time great horses have plundered this most valuable of handicaps en route to greatness. Arkle is the only horse to have won it in consecutive years in 1964 and 1965. He’s also one of three dual winners, alongside Denman (2007 and 2009) and Mandarin, whose victories came four years apart (1957 and 1961).
Bobs Worth, Many Clouds and Native River are among great recent Hennessy heroes, but there’s plenty more to the Winter Carnival than the Ladbrokes Trophy. On day one, the feature event is the extended 3m Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle – one of the top staying hurdle races in the UK.
Multiple winners of the Long Distance are common. Baracouda won back-to-back renewals on his cross-Channel raids from France, while Inglis Drever then won three in a row. Big Buck’s surpassed this, however, with four on the spin. These are a who’s who of modern great staying hurdlers who are not as lauded as their counterparts in chases.
The Grade 2 Berkshire Novices’ Chase over about 2m 4f is the main supporting race on the Friday of the Winter Carnival. Names already mentioned; Bobs Worth, Coneygree and Denman won this before proving they could step up and stay much further. Remittance Man, meanwhile, is one who went down in trip to land the Arkle Challenge Trophy and Queen Mother Champion Chase at back-to-back Cheltenham Festivals.
Supporting the Ladbrokes Trophy is another stayers’ event, the 3m Grade John Francome Novices’ Chase. While Nicholls has saddled eight different horses to land this, it’s Colin Tizzard who has been the trainer to follow in recent years as he earned three victories in a row between 2015 and 2017 including Native River and Thistlecrack, who are both multiple race winners at the course.
There are also two Listed races on the Saturday of this meeting. One is a novice hurdle for mares over an extended 2m and at the same trip is the Gerry Feilden Hurdle – a limited handicap. This used to be a Grade 2 as well, but the days of elite hurdlers like Comedy Of Errors, Lanzarote and Kribensis contesting it are long gone.
Challow Hurdle a classy race to complete calendar year
Let’s no forget on the last Saturday in December that Newbury hosts its only Grade 1 National Hunt race, the Challow Novices’ Hurdle over an extended 2m 4f. Bindaree and Denman, who both went on to great things as chasers, are the most famous winners of this event.Supporting the Challow are a number of handicaps which give punters puzzles to the solve as the year ends.
Your best bet? The bookmaker that does Newbury races best
When you’re betting online these days, you really are spoiled for choice. So many bookmakers, so little time in modern life to decide who to place your bets with. If you’re looking to get on for Newbury, however, then OpenOdds experts have a recommended bookie you should seriously consider. As sponsors of the Winter Carnival, and having taken over from Hennessy as partners of the big staying National Hunt handicap that is the highlight of that horse racing, Ladbrokes are a very solid choice for punters. Daily odds boosts are regularly advertised on the TV and give you extra value whatever racing is on.
On top of these enhanced prices, getting the best odds guaranteed all UK and Irish horse racing comes as standard. While these things may be nothing new, now the Hennessy is called the Ladbrokes Trophy, you can expect a whole host of offer and promotions on the big race and Winter Carnival around it. Extra places, which you may not find on other sportsbooks, are highly likely to be available on the big betting handicap if you’re backing your fancy each-way. This is because Ladbrokes offer three extra place races every day. There’s other sports betting promotions away from horse racing if your gambling interests are broader too!
What you’ll get from our Newbury horse racing betting tips
With so many experts ready to give you betting tips on the horses these days, many punters take them at face value. Here at OpenOdds, however, we find the devil is in the details. That’s why our tipsters give you so much more than a name. The horse racing betting tips you’ll find on our sites put forward a detailed case for the best value bet in a single race or across an entire card. If it’s one race preview, then we’ll talk about potential dangers to our main selection. We’ll also consider the each-way angle for many of the reasons outlined above.
Bookmakers are offering enhanced terms and extra places more than ever these days in order to drum up betting interest. If covering an entire card, we’ll also put forward a next best (NB) bet to go with our NAP. Our experts have also rated how risky each of their selections are on a simple scale of one to 10. The greater the number, the higher the risk attached. Odds are always subject to change, so please remember that and also the price quoted will always have been available at the time of writing. You know you’re on to a winner with OpenOdds!
Tips for races at Newbury
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Some expert advice, helpful hints and latest news all in one place
With a big field handicap like the Ladbrokes Trophy, knowing the latest entries and weights is essential before taking a punt. Knowing all the Newbury news is really important to inform your betting and that’s what we aim to do. Here at OpenOdds, we’re on a mission to take this betting first approach for developments relating to the biggest horse races. Setting everything in its proper context, with what things mean for the market, allows you to bet with confidence. Couple that with our betting tips on all the major events in this great sport, and you should be betting better.
On top of being an authoritative source of betting news, we’re also offering a helping hand to gambling newbies. Our glossary section is packed full of expert advice and jargon busting articles that tell you all about related industry terms. Want to know the difference between a handicap and an allowance race? All that and much, much more is explained. We also delve into many different types of bet that will leave you well educated before taking a punt. However seasoned a gamble you may have encountered on our free to join site, they all had to start somewhere and were novices once just like you. The OpenOdds glossary is great and well worth a visit.