Kempton Park Racecourse Guide

Kempton Park
Kempton Park (Simeon87 /

Situated just 16 miles from central London, no racecourse is more closely situated to the English capital than Kempton Park. It’s one of only three racecourses in Britain to offer both an artificial track for flat racing and a turf course for National Hunt events.

Kempton Park is famous for its Winter Festival which sees an absolutely top class day of racing held on Boxing Day. There are few more cherished days on the British racing calendar and for a long time it has been the absolute height of racing in the festive period.

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The Course

Kempton Park’s all weather course consists of two ovals, the shorter of the two for races from five to 10 furlongs long and the outer oval for longer contests. The polytrack course is flat throughout and offers a short run in of just under two furlongs for inner oval races, stretching to nearly three furlongs for races on the outer oval. With it being a right handed track, the only artificial one in the country, it poses a different challenge for all horses and tends to suit handy types. It is certainly a track where a course win is something to look out for.

As for the turf course, this takes up a more triangular shape and hosts races of at least two miles in distance. It’s one that’s considered to be a very fair test and the fences are quite straightforward. Things only become tricky at Kempton Park when the going is soft to heavy, then a huge amount of stamina is required to see out the trip. Having energy left in the latter stages can make the difference as there are three fences or two hurdles close to the finishing post.

Major Races

There’s no doubting that Kempton Park’s Winter Festival is its most prized meeting. The two day festival includes the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices' Chase and Desert Orchid Chase on the final day but the biggest races take place on the opening day, the 26th December.

The Boxing Day schedule includes the likes of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, Christmas Hurdle and the jewel in the crown, the King George VI Chase, the second most prestigious chase in England. That one has been won thrice by Wayward Lad, four times by Desert Orchid and a record five times by fans’ favourite Kauto Star.

Kempton Park also hosts a few Grade 2 and 3 races in February but the biggest event outside of the Winter Festival is January’s Lanzarote Hurdle. It is named in honour of 1974 Champion Hurdle winner, Lanzarote, although the race has changed significantly over the years since its inception in 1978. Despite the changes, it still remains as a fine handicap affair, one which now holds Listed status.

The major flat races in Britain stick to turf rather than artificial ground so when it comes to flat racing, the schedule at Kempton Park doesn’t quite match its National Hunt fixtures. Nevertheless, it does still hold several races of Class 1 quality including two Group 3 events, the Magnolia Stakes and the Rosebery Stakes, which both take place in September.


Kempton Park Grandstand
Kempton Park Grandstand (Alan Hunt /

Despite being close to the expensive city of London, Kempton Park does accommodate those looking to see some raceday action on a budget. It’s well worth a visit at any time of year but the Boxing Day action is undoubtedly a great way to shrug off any post-Christmas blues!

Useful Info

Dress Code

Smart dress is preferred at Kempton, particular during special events, including big racedays but it’s only required for entry in the more expensive enclosures.

If you have purchased a ticket in the cheapest enclosure then you’ll have no problem getting in with more casual attire or even fancy dress providing it’s not of an offensive nature.

Ticket Prices

A standard day at Kempton Park will cost you £14.40 in advance or £18 on the day for National Hunt meetings and £9.60 in advance or £12 on the day for Flat meetings. The exception to this is students and senior citizens, who can claim a £5 discount at the gate at most meetings.

There is also the option of a Winner Package ticket (£21.60 flat & £26.40 National Hunt) which provides you with a food & drink voucher, racecard, £2 Tote bet and a free visit to a future meeting. Meets that include post-racing entertainment are usually more expensive and prices peak for the Winter Festival.

For the two day event, it’s a good idea to buy in advance and you will receive a 10% discount if doing so. On Boxing Day, Festival Enclosure tickets are £15.30, Paddock tickets are £36 and Premier tickets are £45. On the 27th December, tickets are £10.80, £22.50 and £31.50, respectively.


There are four different types of membership/season cards at Kempton Park designed to suit a range of budgets and interests. To see all of Kempton’s 13 jump fixtures without the perks of being a member, a season card can be purchased for £99.

If you would like the perks, then annual membership covering jump meetings costs £170 for one or £310 for two, providing both people live at the same address. There is also the option of Kempton/Sandown Park dual membership, giving you a total of 22 jump fixtures for £305 a year.

For flat racing enthusiasts, membership that covers all of the flat meetings throughout the year is available. At the time of writing the price for this is yet to be confirmed but given the lower standard of the meetings you can expect it to be very keenly priced.

Getting There

As Kempton Park has a dedicated on site rail station, the train is a great way of getting there if you would otherwise have to drive on the busy M25. Trains run every 30 minutes from London Waterloo and take around 40 minutes.

There are no services on Boxing Day, however, so to get to the opening day of the Winter Festival, you need to catch the dedicated bus service from Kew Underground Station. For people with a long way to travel to Kempton, you may consider flying as Heathrow and Gatwick airports are just 25 and 45 minutes away respectively.


There is free parking available at every meeting but in the main car park, charges do apply on selected flat meetings and all jump fixtures.


Kempton Racecourse Final Fence
Kempton Racecourse Final Fence (John Light /

Racing began at Kempton Park on 18th July 1878 when Henry Hyde was able to fulfil his desire of building a racecourse on the plot of land he purchased six years prior. It didn’t take too long for Kempton Park to make a name for itself and the Prince of Wales paid a visit in 1889. The venue wasn’t used to accommodating such high profile guests but was able to quickly assemble a Royal Box in just 21 days.

The Royal Box accompanied the grandstand, member’s stand, tattersalls bar and a restaurant until 1932 when a large fire burned them down. The course was also ruined by the Second World War as the site was used to accommodate prisoners inside a temporary camp. As a result, a big restoration project was needed to get the racing back underway in 1947.


More work was needed five decades later, this time to build the new grandstand with its distinctive curved roof and many floodlights that facilitate evening racing. By far the biggest undertaking at Kempton Park came eight years later though, with the introduction of the artificial track. The new floodlit course meant the Kempton had to close for 11 months before it reopened with its new £18.78m weather resistant flat track.

Kempton is undoubtedly a top class track with superb facilities. It caters to every budget, every taste and every style of racing, so why not pay it a visit on Boxing Day? It certainly beats eating cold turkey!