Exeter Racecourse is arguably the South West’s best racecourse. As the highest racecourse in the country, it stands at 850 feet, giving racegoers wonderful views over Dartmoor. It is the second longest course in the country, with its track measuring a total of 2 miles. It is regarded by jockeys as the easiest track to navigate, with the easiest bends and surface.
The racecourse has only recently been called by the name of Exeter. Until the early 1990s, it was officially known as Devon and Exeter racecourse. As a National Hunt course, it hosts 17 race meetings between the months of October and May.
Horse racing is said to have first taken place at Exeter 350 years ago, during Charles II’s reign. It wasn’t until 100 years after this point, that races at Exeter were ruled and regulated under the Jockey Club. In those days, prize money for the owner of the first-placed horse was £50 (a lot of money at that time). A first-placed finish is now worth more than £60,000.
Exeter’s Big Meetings
Exeter has a couple of well-known race meetings in its schedule. The William Hill Gold Cup meeting in November is without doubt the highlight, as well as the main money-earner for the course. The lucrative William Hill Haldon Gold Cup Chase is the feature race. The New Years Day meeting also attracts large crowds and well-known horses, trainers and jockeys.
Great Exeter Horses
It is not uncommon for potentially great horses to start their careers at Exeter, before gaining a real name for themselves and earning their owners and trainers good money after substantial success. Two of the most famous horses in racing history, Desert Orchid and Best Mate, won their first steeplechases at Exeter, with Desert Orchid recording its first win in 1985. Other great names which have graced the Exeter turf include Champion chaser, Azertyuiop, who took the 2004 Haldon Gold Cup Chase at the course. More recently, in November 2007, Denman won his first race at Exeter and is certainly headed for great things in the future.
Best Mate won his first race in 2000, before going on to claim fame in the jumps. In 2004, he won his third Cheltenham Gold Cup, equalling Arkle’s famous record. He sadly died a year later at the Exeter course. The Irish-bred chaser, owned by Jim Lewis, had an astounding record of always coming first or second, not once finishing out of the top two throughout his career.
Tragic Death of Best Mate
On 1 November, 2005, the horseracing world was left stunned after the shocking and untimely death of the legendary Best Mate, during the 2005 William Hill Haldon Gold Cup. After bursting a blood vessel earlier in the year, it was a risk to race him again so soon and during the race, jockey Paul Carberry, knew something was wrong and pulled the 10-year-old chaser up in the home straight. Soon after, the horse collapsed and died of a suspected heart attack. It was one of the most upsetting deaths in the history of horseracing, and the name Best Mate will echo around the walls of Exeter forever.
Exeter racecourse is labelled by many, including the trainer of the legendary Best Mate, Henrietta Knight, as "the best non-Grade 1 track in the country". It continues to provide top-quality racing, featuring some of the biggest jockeys and trainers and many successful horses.
For all enquiries please contact:
Tel: 01392 832599
Fax: 01392 833454
Website: Exeter Racecourse
Tickets can be purchased upon arrival at the racecourse, at the turnstiles.
- Haldon Premier Badge – £18
- Grandstand & Paddock Badge – £13
- Children under 16 can enter for free when accompanied by an adult.
- Plenty of free car parking is also available.
Located at the top of Haldon Hill, the racecourse sits alongside the A38 (Exeter to Plymouth Road), and is 5 miles South-West of the end of the M5. The course is two miles east of Chudleigh.
Trains run from London Paddington to Exeter St. David’s, and the journey takes approximately two hours. For further information please visit the National Rail website.
A free bus is available from Exeter bus station and Exeter St David’s train station to the racecourse and back, every raceday.
Exeter Airport is also very close to the course, about 15 minutes away by road.