Why Kempton Racecourse should be recognised as West London’s racecourse

West London, the hub of the capital’s entertainment and hospitality centre, with its many theatres, top hotels, restaurants and an abundance of high-octane nightlife. It comes as no surprise then that sport is well catered for in this part of London, with football, cricket and rugby union all having a significant role to play.

Chelsea football club, winners of the Champions League in 2012, Harlequins FC who play their rugby at the national stadium, Twickenham and Middlesex Cricket Club who ply their trade at the home of English cricket, Lords.

That’s all well and good, but what about horse racing? Considering it’s the second-biggest spectator sport in England behind football, it’s often overlooked when we talk about sport in West London. But talk about it we shall and in particular, Kempton Park Racecourse, which is located just over five miles from Twickenham Rugby Club.

Kempton Park hosts both flat and national hunt events, although from 2006 the standard turf used for flat racing was replaced with a synthetic track, allowing for all year round racing. The sport was first introduced to the track in 1878 after a Mr S H Hyde leased the land six years previously.

The racecourse, located in Sunbury on the Thames, Surrey, is a massive favourite with racegoers and families alike over the festive season when the course’s most famous race of the year takes place on Boxing Day.

The King George VI Chase is a grade one race contested over fences over a distance of three miles. Notable past winners include Kauto Star who won the race on four consecutive occasions between 2006 and 2009 and after missing out to Long Run in 2010, he returned a year later to chalk up his fifth and final win in the race.

Even those not familiar with horse racing would surely have heard of Desert Orchid. The world-famous grey horse tasted victory in the race on four occasions, first winning it in 1986 before bagging himself a hat trick of wins between 1988-1990. Such was the significance of these two magnificent horses dominance in the race; two races were named after them.

Formerly known as the Feltham Novices Chase, the name change to Kauto Star Novices Chase in 2012 shows just how much of an impact this magnificent jumper made on national hunt racing. The same honour was bestowed on the well-loved Desert Orchid on the 27th December 2006 when the Desert Orchid Chase replaced the Castleford Chase.

The flat racing that takes place on the all-weather track at the course is not without its significant races, with two grade three events taking place in September, the Sirenia Stakes and September Stakes. A further two listed races take place throughout the season.

Like a lot of racecourses nowadays, Kempton Park boosts its income by putting on other events other than racing. Exhibitions, meetings, conferences and award ceremonies are par for the course these days for the Surrey-based racecourse.

You don’t have to look far from Kempton to find other prominent racecourses in the vicinity. In fact, head towards Hampton Court way along the A309 for just short of six miles, and you’ll find yourself outside Sandown Park. Located in Esher, Surrey, the course is host to five grade one national hunt races which include the Henry VIII Novices Chase and Tingle Creek Chase.

The venue also has its fair share of group two and three-flat races, as well as the courses primary race, the group one Eclipse Stakes which takes place annually in July.

A little further away at eleven miles, the next racecourse in Surrey needs no introduction. Epsom is home to Britains most prestigious horse race, the Epsom Derby. No other race can compete with the prize money on offer in this iconic race, with the winner taking home over eight hundred and fifty thousand pounds in prize money from the purse of over one and a half million.

For its sheer versatility, Kempton Park racecourse is difficult to beat. Its all-weather track allows fans of horse racing to attend the sport they love all year round and in all weathers. Epsom has its Derby, Sandown Park has its Eclipse Stakes, but unlike both of these great racecourses, it doesn’t allow for that year-round enjoyment that this West London racecourse has to offer.