Lingfield Park is situated in Lingfield, Surrey and stages flat racing on the all-weather and both flat and jumps meeting on turf. It is the only course to stage all three formats of racing in the UK. The course is only fifteen minutes from the M25 at Junction 6 and the M23 at Junction 10. Lingfield Park Station is adjacent to the course with regular services from London to East Grinstead via Oxted.
Lingfield is left handed with the all-weather track on the inside of the turf track. The all-weather is a polytrack surface and is just under a mile and a quarter round. It had originally been equitrack but was replaced by a new surface in 2001 which was re-laid in 2012.
The turf course is almost a mile and a half long and cuts across the seven furlong straight at the half a mile marker. The course has certain similarities to Epsom and is home to both Derby and Oaks trials in the Spring. The National Hunt course frequently suffers from very heavy ground which inevitably puts the emphasis on stamina.
Although there are many theories about the effect of the draw, statistics suggest that there is no actual bias at Lingfield. It can be a difficult track for front-runners with horses behind picking up momentum on the downhill run into the straight.
Lingfield Horse Racing History
Lingfield Park Racecourse was established in 1890 as a jumps racing venue. It was granted a flat racing licence four years’ later and the first Lingfield Derby Trial took place in 1932. The only break in racing at the course came during World War II when it was requisitioned as a P.O.W. camp.
The innovative move to create an all-weather track in 1989 has been richly rewarded. The change to a polytrack surface in 2001 was positively welcomed and the infrastructure of the course has been improved dramatically since.
All Weather Championship
Lingfield Park staged the first all-weather meeting in the UK in 1989. It quickly became established as the leading all-weather circuit and hosts the £1million championship meeting for the surface. The Inaugural all-weather Championships took place on Good Friday 2014 and the quality of racing has steadily improved. It is the culmination of over 200 all-weather meetings with competitive races over a variety of distances on Finals Day.
It also hosts the Derby and Oaks Trials at the May meeting. They do not hold quite the same kudos as they once did but can still produce the occasional Classic winner. Lingfield now stages around 80 meetings during the year, the majority being on the all-weather.
The Lingfield Derby Trial in May is the most prestigious race held at the course, even though it now only holds Listed status. It was formerly a Group 3 race and has produced eight subsequent Epsom Derby winners.
The Lingfield Oaks Trial is also a Listed race having lost its Group 3 status in 1985. It still retains some significance as a trial for the fillies’ mile and a half Classic. The Spring meeting also features the Group 3 Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes over seven furlongs. This race was established in 1994 and was promoted to Group 3 level ten years’ later.
The only other Group 3 staged at Lingfield is the Winter Derby on the all-weather surface in late February/early March. It was introduced as a focal point for the Winter season in 1998 and is a ten-furlong contest for four-year-olds and upwards. There are four other Listed races on the all-weather each season; The Cleves Stakes, The Winter Derby Trial, The Hever Sprint Stakes and the International Trial.
Famous Races and Racehorses at Lingfield
The inaugural running of the Lingfield Derby Trial was won by April The Fifth who went on to win the Derby at Epsom. Teenoso was ridden to victory by Steve Cauthen at Lingfield in the very wet spring of 1983. Lester Piggott took over the reins on Geoff Wragg’s colt at Epsom and was backed into favourite before winning by three lengths.
Cauthen would win the race four times within a space of five seasons. Slip Anchor put up a dominant display to win the Lingfield Derby Trial by ten lengths. He also started favourite at Epsom and followed up in fine style.
Kahyasi was the next horse to complete the double in 1988, trained by Luca Cumani and ridden by Ray Cochrane. He raced in the colours of His Highness The Aga Khan who also won the Oaks Trial here with Aliysa (1989), controversially disqualified after winning at Epsom. Cumani repeated the performance with High-Rise in 1998. St Leger winners Bob’s Return (1993) and Silver Patriarch (1997) were other high class winners here.
The Lingfield Oaks Trial has also been the stepping-stone to Epsom glory for several fillies. Ginevra (1972), Juliette Marny (1975), User Friendly (1992), Lady Carla (1996) and Ramruma (1999) all tasted Classic success. Give Thanks (1983) and Seventh Heaven (2016) went on to win the Irish Oaks while Midday (2009) went on to win at the Breeders’ Cup.
Running Stag won the first running of the Winter Derby in 1998. Notable subsequent winners include Scintillo (2009), Tryster (2015) and Grendisar (2016). The expression “Horses for Courses” is particularly applicable to the all-weather tracks. Rapporteur, Respectable Jones, Krystal Max and Bank On Him all won on more than ten occasions at Lingfield. Rapporteur won fourteen races on the all-weather and another five on the turf course. He raced 33 times at alternative venues but never won outside of Lingfield!
Respectable Jones recorded 11 Lingfield victories between 1990 and 1994 while Kristal Max won fourteen times (1995 – 2001). Bank On Him won twelve times at the Surrey course between 1999 and 2005.
Top Jockeys and Trainers at Lingfield
William Haggas has returned a percentage of almost 30% with his runners here over the past three seasons. Richard Hannon is the leading trainer numerically, saddling almost a hundred more runners than any other trainer. Simon Dow also does well at Lingfield and has produced a healthy level stakes profit.
Luke Morris and Adam Kirby top the statistics numerically but Oisin Murphy and Tom Marquand provide better value to a level stake. There are insufficient races on turf to reach any real conclusions.