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Newton Abbot Racecourse

Published on: 30/08/2013

Newton Abbot Racecourse is situated between Torquay and Exmouth in Devon. The setting is particularly idyllic, being just to the south is the beautiful River Teign, and located in the rural parishes of Teigngrace and Kingsteignton. The track is modest in size, covering approximately a mile and a furlong in length. Its seven jumps per circuit seem deceptively easy, but they have taxed many a nonchalant jockey.

In 1866 a team of local sporting enthusiasts and businessman purchased the 91 acre plot. For many decades, though the track was certainly eventful and popular with the local public, the racing area was substantially undeveloped, and unable to stage important races. The area was converted into a prisoner of war camp during the First World War. The track had to wait until the end of the Second World War, nearly a hundred years after it was originally purchased, for it to be developed, and its inherent potential as a racing venue to be realized.

The 50’s and the 60’s were the decades of flat racing, while National Hunt racing was considered the pastime of the “the needy and the greedy.” This prejudice finally started to shift by the late 60’s. In 1969 the construction of the main grandstand was completed, with its inaugural opening honored by Her Royal Majesty the Queen Mother herself.

The popular greyhound racing track of Kingskerswell was closed in the 1970’s, to the frustration of many, since there were no other tracks nearby. Newton Abbot Racecourse proved its versatility by sporting greyhound racing in the evenings, thus bringing more people than ever to the track. Many lamented the lack of a totalisator, but since there were numerous trackside bookmakers there was little problem, and greyhound events continued into the 1980’s.

Racing at Newton Abbott Today

The Lord Mildmay Memorial Handicap Chase was first run at Newton Abbot in 2011. This was seen as a major milestone in the track’s prestige, since little had changed there since the 80’s. This race soon became the largest of the summer season – its namesake commemorates one Lord Mildmay, who convinced Queen Elizabeth to start breeding jumpers, during a visit to Winsor Castle in 1949. Lord Anthony Mildmay held the prestigious title of the Royal Racing Manger until he died in 1950.

March to October is the racing season at Newton Abbott, with theses six months containing 19 fixtures. Along with numerous evening events there are no less than six summer days when the Family Enclosure is open to the public. Surely the highlight of the social events at Newton Abbot is the Ladies’ Day, held in June. This draws women from all over Devon to compete with their fine costumes. A generous charity raffle, buffet meal, and fashion show make this an event not to miss.

The Course Enclosure fixture costs £12, and grants you passage to bars, a spacious picnic spot, and of course all the betting arenas and spectator areas. For just six pounds extra you are granted access to the Paddock Enclosure, including it’s grandstand as well as the prize winning Post restaurant, and other restricted areas. For parents encumbered by children, there is a handy crèche, which is sponsored by the Sunflower Day Nurseries. This conveniently opens and closes half and hour before and after the day’s first and last fixtures, so you need not miss a race, and be reassured that your children are in safe hands. £20 will cover the cost of the crèche, while a £6 charge can be paid for an hour of care.

Newton Abbot Racecourse is well worth a visit. If you are visiting that popular tourist destination of Torquay why not travel ten miles north and have a great day at the races?

Published on: 30/08/2013 © Bet Bind
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