If ever there was a horse-racing event that typifies the rural way of life in the West Country then the Exeter Gold Cup Chase is it. This prestigious racing event is held on the first Tuesday in November at Exeter Racecourse, which is well out of the city on Haldon Hill at Kennford.
Many horse racing meetings at Ascot and Newmarket attract racegoers who are more interested in the vintage of the champagne they are drinking than the horses. Exeter Gold Cup day is a refreshing change as it welcomes a mixture of country folk and horse racing enthusiasts who attend Devon's premier race meeting simply for the love of the sport.
Exeter Racecourse has glorious views
Exeter Racecourse is situated on top of Haldon Hill which offers breathtaking views over the Devon countryside. However, the racecourse is quite exposed so it can be very windy and chilly. Frost is a constant thorn in the side of the staff at the course who work hard to make sure that the going is acceptable.
The Exeter Gold Cup Chase attracts some of the very best horses from all over the country and this particular meeting does get very busy, so bear that in mind if you are thinking of arriving just before the start of the first race. There will be traffic jams!
Due to its location, the only real option is to arrive by car as the course is quite a distance from Exeter train station and the airport. The other alternative to attend is to join an organised coach trip.
If you are driving, I would recommend arriving late morning and then relaxing over a drink and a bite to eat. The gates open around 11:50am, well before the first race at around 1:50pm. The last race is scheduled for 4:50pm, but all times will be confirmed closer to the date, along with the going announcement 7 days before the Gold Cup event.
Head for the stands to watch the Exeter Gold Cup Chase
To make the most out of the Exeter Gold Cup race meeting it is well worth paying the little extra admission fee to gain entrance to the Haldon Premier Stand. At £20 it is about a fiver more than entrance to the paddock enclosure but the difference in terms of the whole racing experience is far superior. In this area you get to really absorb the atmosphere, rub shoulders with the jockeys and trainers, watch the horses being paraded around the ring and maybe even pick up a few winning tips along the way.
In the paddock, the food options are the usual chips and burgers but in the Premier Stand fine dining is offered and is of a very high standard but it can be pricey. Best value is a restaurant package at the Desert Orchid restaurant which usually means you can keep your table (and great views of the course through the window) for the duration of the day.
A bet on the horses is the best way to enjoy the Exeter Gold Cup Chase
The Gold Cup Race is a fast and furious race battled over the two-mile course. There are some challenging jumps around the course to sort out the men from the boys, as it were. Previous winners of the Exeter Gold Cup have gone on to win at Cheltenham and include some great names such as Somersby, Cue Card, Edredin Bleu and Viking Flagship. If you really want to get involved in the race, placing a few bets (as safe or as risky as you like) is sure to sharpen your interest in each race, and who knows ‐ you may go home a little richer than you arrived!
Do you have a favourite race meeting that you look forward to attending every year? It doesn't matter if it is over the flat or a national hunt. We'd love to hear what makes it special for you.