Wincanton is a National Hunt course located 37 miles south of Bristol in Somerset. It is on the B3081 between Wincanton and Bruton and can be reached via the A303. The closest railway station to the course is Templecombe on the Waterloo line and a free shuttle bus runs to the track on race days. Rail passengers using the Paddington-Bristol line will arrive at Bruton, four miles from the racecourse, and will require a bus or taxi for the final leg of their journey.
Wincanton is a sharp, right handed course with a reputation for being a good test for a chaser. It is certainly a course for front-runners on good ground but not when the ground is soft. The fences are quite stiff and can often catch out tiring horses in the closing stages. The last three fences in the home straight come in quick succession so horses cannot afford to take any liberties with them. You should certainly be wary of any suspect jumpers when assessing your Wincanton tips for today.
Wincanton Horse Racing History
In August 2017, Wincanton Racecourse celebrated its 150th year. The local hunting community staged the first National Hunt Steeplechase in 1867 and this gradually developed into a series of fixtures.
The original venue was at Hatherleigh Farm which ran into financial difficulties following its temporary closure during the First World War. Lord Stalbridge, who now has a race and a bar named after him, rescued the racecourse from liquidation. A new course was built on the current site at Kingwell Farm and opened on Easter Monday 1927.
Lord Stalbridge was forced to sell due to his failing health and passed away in 1945. The course was purchased by a group of ten local sportsmen and re-opened after the Second World War. Wincanton racecourse was purchased by the Racecourse Holdings Trust in the 1960’s and remains Jockey Club property to this day.
Wincanton stages 17 National Hunt meetings from October through to May, including weekend and Bank Holiday fixtures. The Kingwell Hurdle is the feature race of the February meeting. There are always plenty of Wincanton horse racing tips for the competitive Badger Ales Trophy. This takes place during the flagship November meeting. The Elite Hurdle and the Rising Star Novices’ Chase are the other feature events on this televised Saturday card.
The Kingwell Hurdle over two miles is the most significant race at Wincanton, a recognised trial for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. The Kingwell was first run in 1971 and was elevated to Grade 2 status in 1991. The Elite Hurdle was established in 1992 and was originally held at Cheltenham. It was transferred to Wincanton in 1994 and became a limited handicap in 1998.
The Badger Ales Trophy is one of the first big handicap chases of the season and is over three miles and a furlong. It was first run in 1962 and was given Listed status in 2003. The top novice chase at Wincanton is the Grade 2 Rising Stars Novices’ Chase over two miles and five furlongs. It was originally staged at Chepstow before being switched to Wincanton in 2004.
Famous Races and Racehorses at Wincanton
Champion hurdlers Bula and Lanzarote dominated the Kingwell Hurdle in the first six years. Bula won the race in 1971, 1972 and 1973. The 1971 race was billed as a match between Bula and three times Champion Hurdler Persian War. In the event, Persian War did not run to his best and could finish only third behind Bula and Flower Picker.
Bula went on to win at Cheltenham for the first two of those years but was denied the hat-trick by Comedy of Errors in 1973. Lanzarote won the Kingwell for the following three seasons and claimed the Champion Hurdle crown in 1974. Both horses were trained by Fred Winter in Lambourn.
David Elsworth is another trainer to have enjoyed considerable success in the Kingwell Hurdle. He saddled Desert Orchid to win the race in 1984 and was also successful with Walnut Wonder (1982), Hypnosis (1987) and Floyd (1988 and 1989).
Other notable winners of the Kingwell Hurdle include Alderbrook (1995), Hors La Loi III (2000 and 2002), Inglis Drever (2005), Katchit (2008) and Binocular (2012). Alan King trained Katchit who was the most recent horse to win the Champion Hurdle in the same season. King also won with Mille Chief (2011), Yanworth (2017) and Elgin (2018).
There have also been some high class winners of the Elite Hurdle, notably Azertyuiop (2001) and Well Chief (2003). Both went on to become top class two mile chasers. Paul Nicholls has won the race on seven occasions including in 2012 with former Triumph Hurdle winner Zarkandar.
The 1969 Grand National winner Highland Wedding was successful in the Badger Ales Trophy in 1966. Chris Popham’s Panto Prince won the race twice in 1990 and 1993, carrying 11st 10lbs on both occasions. 1998 winner Teeton Mill went on to big race glory in the Hennessy Gold Cup and the King George VI Chase in the same season. Paul Nicholls often features among Wincanton betting tips and trained a record eighth winner of the Badger Ales Trophy with Present Man in 2017.
The Jim Ford Challenge Cup used to be the feature event at Wincanton in February before becoming a limited handicap in 2006. Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Silver Buck (1981), Burrough Hill Lad (1984), Desert Orchid (1987), Cool Ground (1991) and See More Business (2002 and 2003) are all on the roll of honour.
The race was named after a local trainer who won the Gold Cup with Gay Donald in 1955. The Jim Ford was run as the Country Gentleman’s Association Chase in 2008 and was won by Neptune Collonges. The popular grey closed his career with victory in the Aintree Grand National in 2012.
The first year that the Rising Star Novices’ Chase was held at Wincanton in 2004 it was won by heavily backed favourite Comply or Die. He won the Grand National at Aintree in 2008 for David Pipe and Timmy Murphy. In 2011 the race went to Silviniaco Conti who would go on to win the King George VI Chase twice for Paul Nicholls.
Dual Olympic gold medal winning track cyclist Victoria Pendleton rode Pacha Du Polder to victory in March 2016 to earn her place in the Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase field. She finished fifth behind On The Fringe but the horse returned to win the race in 2017 and 2018 under different riders.
Wincanton Betting Tips
Colin Tizzard is high on our list of Wincanton racing tips as the trainer to follow in steeplechases. His runners have recorded a 24% strike rate over the past three season and a useful level stake profit. Local trainer Jeremy Scott is also worth noting with his runners over the bigger obstacles.
Paul Nicholls has a very impressive 42% strike rate with his hurdlers, winning nearly four times as many races as his nearest rival in that sphere. Emma Lavelle also does well with her hurdlers at this venue.
Harry Cobden must feature as one of the best horse racing tips for Wincanton today. He has been the leading rider at Wincanton over the past three years. Cobden has been equally successful over fences and hurdles, producing a level stakes profit of almost 50%. Sam Twiston-Davies and Daryl Jacob also enjoy plenty of success here.