Chepstow Racecourse Guide

Chepstow Racecourse
Chepstow Racecourse (Ruth Sharville /

Chepstow Racecourse is one of three Welsh horse racing venues, situated close to the English border near the southern end of the spectacular Wye Valley. Out of the three, it is has to be considered the most well-recognised and it’s the one that draws in the biggest crowds.

While it doesn’t quite have the reputation as some other courses across the UK, it’s a place that many trainers and jockeys value. Top names are regularly spotted at Chepstow, particular during its National Hunt fixtures which are something it is better known for.

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The Course

While Chepstow is a left-handed oval shaped course, flat races up to a mile take place on the straight course. Given that this is longer than your typical straight course, patience is key as otherwise inexperienced horses and jockeys can find themselves going off far too early. In longer races, the emphasis is on stamina and whilst gallopers can fair okay, the serious undulations can make it trickier for long-striding horses.

There are 11 fences or seven hurdles depending on the type of National Hunt race around the jumps course which measures nearly two miles round. Being on the inside of the flat course, the bends are that little bit sharper and they do provide a bit of a problem for some less-agile runners. The fences aren’t too tough however so it’s not an overly difficult test of jumping ability.

The big thing to keep an eye out on at Chepstow is the weather. Conditions vary hugely and when the going is on the drier side of things then you can witness some very fast races. It is a course known for being frequently muddy though and when this happens, it’s a gruelling test to get to the finish line. Often the field becomes spread out as some don’t have the legs for the boggy conditions.

Major Races

Chepstow’s crown jewel is undoubtedly the Welsh Grand National which takes place on the December 27th each year but is no stranger to a postponement due to poor conditions. The three mile, five and a half furlong handicap is one of the big races on the National Hunt calendar and regularly sees horses that are contenders for the Grand National or Cheltenham Gold Cup. Earth Summit, Bindaree and Silver Birch are just some of the horses to have completed the Aintree and Chepstow double.

In terms of jockeys, David Nicholson rode the winners on three consecutive occasions in the Welsh National between 1959 and 1961, a record yet to be broken. Peter Scudamore also has three wins to his name, including two in a row from 1988 on Bonanza Boy.

Chepstow has a few other high grade races, such as the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle which is run on the same day as the Welsh National. There are also another two notable hurdles races that take place in October, the Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle and the Persian War Novices' Hurdle, both of which are two and a half miles long.


Stands at Chepstow Racecourse
Stands at Chepstow Racecourse (Jaggery /

If you are looking to try out some live racing for free then keep your eye out for Chepstow’s annual free race night. Entry for you and up to three others will cost you absolutely nothing providing you reserve tickets online. You can’t get cheaper than that!

Useful Info

Dress Code

Certain items of clothing such as ripped jeans, football shirts and vests are not permitted anywhere inside the racetrack. Rules in the Grandstand & Paddock area are relaxed but in the Premier Enclosure and hospitality areas you will be expected to come in smart or smart casual dress.

Ticket Prices

A standard raceday ticket in the Grandstand & Paddock area will cost either £10 in advance and £15 on the day or £15 in advance or £18 on the day. Feature racedays, which only applies to National Hunt fixtures, cost £20 in advance and £22 on the day. Sometimes your ticket provides access to both enclosures but other times you will need to pay a few pounds more for Premier Enclosure entry.

Aside from basic entry tickets, various packages are offered but availability varies depending on what meeting it is. Concessionary rates are also offered and these entitle students and senior citizens to £2 off the price of an on the day ticket in either enclosure.


An annual badge for a single adult at Chepstow costs £320 for the full year or £260 if you just want to have access to the jumps action too. Being an annual badge holder entitles you to Premier Enclosure access, entry at all ARC courses (exclusions apply) and over 50 reciprocal fixtures, a complimentary racecard at every meeting, and a coach trip to visit a top stable.

Getting There

Many drive to Chepstow by going across the Severn Bridge which is located close to the racecourse. For those taking public transport, the easiest way is by getting the train to Chepstow or Newport. From there a shuttle bus service, which operates on all racedays, will take you to and from the racecourse.

Return tickets cost £3 from Chepstow and £5 for Newport. Getting the bus from Chepstow isn’t a must however, as it only takes around 30 minutes to walk from the station to the racecourse.


All car parking at Chepstow is free of charge.


In the Parade Ring at Chepstow
In the Parade Ring at Chepstow (Stuart Wilding /

Chepstow isn’t one of the oldest tracks around but is still approaching its centenary. Racing at Chepstow owes its thanks to a group of 10 South Wales worthies who formed a company to buy Piercefield Park in the early 1920s. Once the 370 acre purchase was complete, it took three years and the efforts of 80 men to turn the land into something that was fit for racing. They got to see what their hard work contributed towards when 20,000 spectators showed up for Chepstow’s first meet in the summer of 1926.

Financial Concerns

Despite big initial crowds, the course was proving expensive to maintain and serious financial issues were of big concern for many years. Several nearby tracks, such as Brecon, Usk, Monmouth, Abergavenny, St Arvans and Tenby were forced to cease operation at this time, only adding to the concern. Shareholders, along with a helpful bank manager, however, ensured that the course was able to stay afloat.

Had it not been able to, then spectators would have missed out on a truly remarkable achievement in 1933. During a two-day meeting, jockey Gordon Richards rode 11 consecutive winners, setting a new world record. Forget about Frankie!


Like with most courses, racing was suspended during the war and Chepstow, due to its geographical location, provided an excellent base for the RAF. Wellington bombers, Hurricanes and such like would take off and land on the runway which was created in the middle of the track.

Welsh Courses

More Welsh courses were to fall by the wayside after the war including Caerleon, which had been the host of the Welsh Grand National. The loss for Carleon only acted as a huge boost for Chepstow, however, as having this big race helped to make it a more recognisable name. Since this point, Chepstow has gone from strength to strength and has firmly established itself as Wales’ premier racecourse.