Racing hasn’t had the best of times in Wales and today there are only three courses still in operation. Chepstow will lay claim to be the premier venue, hosting the Welsh Grand National every Christmas when thousands head for the venue set among the beautiful rolling hills of South Wales. The track is used for both jumps and flat racing.
During the Second World War it was used as a temporary RAF base, with the runway “built” in the centre of the track. Today, the track has a mixture of the new and old with the traditional grandstand with its gabled roof sitting next to the newer Premier Stand.
Our last visit – May 2017
It was an ambitious plan – two meetings in two countries in one afternoon/evening. OK, so the countries in question were linked by bridge and were only an hour apart but the difference between Chepstow and Cheltenham couldn’t be more marked, especially with the weather.
Our arrival at Chepstow had been delayed due to the normal M25 Friday accidents so we missed the first two of the eight races on the Flat Season opening afternoon but any disappointment was quickly dispersed as we took in the majestic view of the course in all of its glory. Shades on, beer in hand it was time to make some money. The track is up there with the best I’ve been to – small enough to give it some atmosphere with all the facilities on hand. It is unusual in the fact the parade ring and winner’s enclosure are located right by the winner’s post.
Alas, you can have too much of a good thing and in 2:20 I plumped for Prerogative, “son” of Alex Ferguson’s Rock of Gibraltar whilst CMF went for Scales of Justice, both starting at 7/2 – they finished 2nd and 3rd to favourite Laraaib. The 2:50 saw our horses finish 6th and 7th respectively but finally we found a winner in the 3:20 when 9/2 Artic Sea won. The 3:50 was one for the outsiders with the first four romping home at 8/1, 8/1, 20/1 and 14/1. Good job we went with the favourites in that one! In our final run out of the afternoon in the 4:20 we backed the winner (Akavit at 3/1) and second (Riptide 7/1) to mean we broke even for the afternoon and headed east for part two of our day.
Whats the track like?: One of the most picturesque courses in Great Britain with views of the stunning Monmouthshire rolling hills in the distance. Races take place over a variety of distances either on the circular track or on the 1 mile undulating straight that starts high up and sees the horses run the first half mile downhill before an undulating finishing straight. Views are excellent both from the paddock and the grandstands. Chepstow is unusual in the fact that the parade ring and winner’s enclosure is adjacent to the finishing line.
Admission: Tickets start from £15 when booked in advance (although some race meetings start from £10 if booked online), or £18 on the day. They offer an excellent value Day at the Races ticket which includes admission, race card, a pint or glass of wine and food from The Grill at just £22.
Food & Drink: Chepstow is a compact, intimate venue and has a few food options as well as two decent sized bars – the Premier Bar and the Grandstand/Paddock Bar. Above the terracing is the popular Silks Restaurant that offers Afternoon Tea (£35 for one, £65 for two) and a full table service menu (from £57pp). In addition there is the Feeding Box in the Premier Bar and the Grill in the Paddock Bar as well as outside vending options.
Address: Chepstow Racecourse, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, NP16 6BE – Tel: 01291 622260
Directions: Another very easy racecourse to find, especially those coming by car. The racecourse is situated just a couple of miles from junction 2 of the M48. If you are coming from England then it is the first exit after coming over the old Seven Crossing. Take the A466 towards Chepstow Town Centre then straight on at first roundabout and follow the road down the hill. After a mile you will see the racecourse on the right-hand side. There is ample, free parking on the left hand side opposite the main entrance.
The nearest train station is Chepstow which is a fifteen minute walk away although more mainline trains will arrive at Newport. A bus shuttle service provided by Newport Transport operates from Chepstow Train Station to the Racecourse via the town’s bus station. The service also operates from Newport to the course from the city’s train station. Racegoers pay £3 for a return ticket, while those travelling from Newport pay just £5 for a return journey.
Hotels near-by: There are a few guest houses in the Town Centre such as the Castle View on Bridge Street and the George Hotel on Moor Street. The Beaufort Hotel in the Town Centre is also highly recommended. Further afield is the world-famous St.Pierre Marriott which is perfect for a weekend away.