Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire opened in 1905 and has attracted some of the greatest horses in training both on the Flat and over jumps.
The training centre of Lambourn is nearby and the course provides plenty of exciting opportunities for the locals. Legendary trainer John Porter, who began training in 1863, was integral in creating the racecourse and a Group 3 race is named in his honour.
The Betfair Hurdle is the richest handicap hurdle in Britain and is run on Newbury’s Super Saturday in February, along with the Betfair Denman Chase and Game Spirit Chase. Formerly sponsored by Schweppes and the Tote, the contest has been run for more than 50 years with the likes of brilliant hurdlers Persian War, Deep Sensation, Landing Light and My Tent Or Yours on the roll of honour.
Betfair Denman Chase
The Denman Chase, run over three miles, is one of the key trials for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Grade 2 event has been won by Kauto Star (2007), Coneygree (2015) and Native River (2018), who all went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The race is named after the legendary Denman, who won it in 2008 before also going on to score in the same year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Betfair Game Spirit Chase
Run on the same day as the Denman Chase and Betfair Hurdle, the Game Spirit acts as a key trial for the Champion Chase on the Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival. It was first run in 1953 and is named after Game Spirit, a successful horse owned by the Queen Mother. The brilliant Viking Flagship, Sprinter Sacre, Master Minded, Flagship Uberalles and Altior have all won the contest.
Traditionally known as the Hennessy, until its sponsorship changed, the three-mile-two-furlong steeplechase is one of the most prestigious handicap prizes of the jumps season. It has been won by nine horses who subsequently won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and Many Clouds won it before striking in the Grand National in 2015. Only three horses – Mandarin, Arkle and Denman – have won the race more than once since its first running in 1957.
Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes
Run over a mile, the Lockinge Stakes is one of Britain’s foremost Group 1 races over a mile. Named after an area just north of Newbury, it is specifically for horses aged over four and above and has been won by the likes of Brigadier Gerard and Frankel.
Weatherbys Super Sprint
First held in 1991, the Weatherbys Super Sprint is one of the most unusual races in the Flat calendar with the weights of the horses decided by their purchase prices as yearlings. Penalties are added if they have won at Group, Listed or Class 2 level. The concept gives horses bought for less than £60,000 a better chance of winning a huge prize.
Mill Reef Stakes
Named after the outstanding Ian Balding-trained Mill Reef, who was a multiple Group 1 winner in the early 1970s, the Mill Reef Stakes is a Group 2 six-furlong event for two-year-old colts held in late September and has been won by the likes of Ribchester and Harry Angel in recent seasons.
Trivia: Queen Elizabeth II spent her 86th birthday at Newbury racecourse. She watched the races from the royal box, although her two runners, Sequence ridden by Ryan Moore and Momentary ridden by Hayley Turner, did not win.