As Britain’s youngest National Hunt Racecourse, Taunton is also one the most picturesque. The track is situated in the heart of the Somerset countryside with breathtaking views of the Blackwood Hills. Taunton upholds its local appeal whilst being recognised as one of the leading smaller National Hunt courses.
The current Racecourse has emerged from a great tradition of racing in Somerset. Taunton Castle was the scene of some gory occasions under the reign of James II who was known to be a keen follower of the races. The site of the modern day Racecourse lies just a few miles from the 12th Century Castle in the parish of Orchard Portman.
The first known races in the Taunton area were held at Broomhay, West Monkton in 1788. This period only lasted until 1812 after problems, which were linked to the Napoleonic Wars, forced the closure of the Broomhay site.
The Bridgwater Era
The new site in 1813 was situated near to the River Parrett and the races were known as the Bridgwater Hut meetings. This location survived until the Edwardian times.
After a brief period of racing at Trull Moor in 1840, the races moved back to Bridgwater in 1855 before the Taunton Racecourse found its home on Orchard Portman in 1927.
The Modern Era
The Taunton Racecourse was the brainchild of seven men who were the founders of the Taunton Racecourse Company. They decided, on the 25th July 1927, to create a new racecourse on the land owned by Viscount Portman, known as the Orchard Portman. The first race quickly followed and on the 21st September of the same year ‘Baalbek’ became the first winning horse on the new Taunton Racecourse.
Local trainer Martin Pipe is the leading course trainer at Taunton and is assisted by Tony McCoy, the leading course jockey.
The course at Taunton is approximately one and a quarter miles long and its oval shape has created a number of sharp bends that lead to an uphill final flourish on the home straight. Due to its tight turns and tricky fences this course favours those horses that are sharp and agile.
2008 Race Information
Taunton Racecourse plays host to 13 jumps race meetings every year including the Spring Meeting, the St Patrick’s Day meeting and the yearly Arabian race meeting to be held this year on May 3rd. For more information on Arabian racing click here
Ticket and Race day Information
Portman Grandstand £15.00
Junior members (16 to 24) £7.50
Accompanied children under 16 admitted free.
Tickets can be purchased via the website
Eating and Drinking
There are a number of hospitality packages available at Taunton Racecourse, including lunch in a hospitality lounge and finger buffets as part of the Sponsorship package. Bookings can be made for a minimum of 12 people with prices starting at £660 for the whole party.
There is also the Orchard Restaurant which offers great views of the track and a three course meal from £48 per person For full details on the hospitality packages available at Taunton visit the Raceday Entertainment section of the official website.
At Taunton it is only the members’ enclosure that imposes a strict dress code. There is a recommendation that appropriate footwear is worn as spectators are likely to be standing for much of the day. Also, Taunton Racecourse advises all visitors to check the weather beforehand and prepare accordingly.
Getting to Taunton Racecourse
The Racecourse is located approximately two miles South of Taunton town centre on the B3170 road from Taunton to Corfe & Honiton. If travelling on the M5, leave at Junction 25 and follow signs to Taunton and the Racecourse is well sign posted.
If traveling from South Somerset on the A303, take the A358, which passes underneath the M5, from which sign posts for the Racecourse can be found.
All Car Parking is free.
A courtesy bus is available on race days travelling from the railway station one hour before the first race, calling at the Bus Station before the Racecourse. The return service is available 30 minutes after the start of the final race.
A map of the Racecourse is available via the official website.
Tel: 01823 325035 or 01823 337172
Fax: 01823 325881