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The Exeter New Year’s Day Races are under starter’s orders

A tradition for many Devon locals is attending the Exeter New Year's Day Races. Learn how to get to the races for free, tips for discounted tickets, and what to expect at this breezy racecourse, located right on top of Haldon Hill.
The Exeter New Year’s Day Races are a Devon tradition and there’s no better way to start the New Year than by backing a winner at these well-attended races. They take place on blustery Exeter Racecourse, which is right on top of Haldon Hill, but it does have stunning views over the beautiful Devon countryside. This Bank Holiday event always attracts a huge crowd and the lively atmosphere is very relaxed and fun.

After all the socialising and excesses of Christmas and the New Year, for me this is a great excuse for some fresh air and gentle exercise. It makes the perfect day out for anyone who is new to the sport of racing, as well as being very popular with racegoing regulars. As it is Jump Racing, also known as Steeplechasing, it is more exciting and hazardous than Flat Racing. There are plenty of fences and ditches to be negotiated as the jockeys progress around the racecourse.

Bargain ticket prices for the Exeter New Year’s Day Racing

The New Year’s Day Racing is a very family-friendly event, usually with a bouncy castle, plenty of space for youngsters to run around or watch the horses coming and going. Best of all, accompanied children under the age of 18 get in free.

Canny racegoers looking for a bargain can even get 25% off the price of New Year’s Day tickets if they book online by midnight on Christmas Eve. However, you need to quote a promotion code which is NYD and the next year i.e. For January 1st 2014, quote NYD2014. Tickets are available for the Haldon Premier Stand or the cheaper Main Grandstand/Paddock Enclosure. Both areas have a great atmosphere.

My tip for the best value is to book the Restaurant All-inclusive Package which includes Haldon Premier Admission, a reserved table for the whole afternoon with first class views, a three-course lunch with tea and coffee, free car parking and a race card.

Tips for getting to the Exeter New Year’s Day Races

Getting to Exeter Racecourse is easy along the A38. If you plan to have a few drinks or celebrate a win, there is a free bus service which leaves Exeter St David’s Railway Station at 11am and the Bus and Coach Station in the city centre at 11:15am – how civilized is that! It departs Exeter Racecourse for the return trip 30 minutes after the last race.

The first race takes place at 12:25pm, allowing everyone time to get up at a leisurely hour and enjoy a light breakfast before hitting the (very quiet) Devon roads. If you want to make a full day of it, prebook a restaurant table and enjoy a wonderful lunch with views out across the racecourse. If the day is a little chilly, this is a great way to escape the wind and warm up!

has recently had a £2 million redevelopment to improve its conference facilities and raceday hospitality facilities. If you’re not fortunate enough to know someone sponsoring a private hospitality box, there are still plenty of undercover areas with good views.

Exeter’s racing history

Although Exeter Racecourse is tucked away in the southwest, it has hosted its fair share of top horses. It is often where future champions are put through their paces, and where established champions return.

Desert Orchid won his first chase at Exeter Racecourse back in 1985 and went on to become a household name as one of the greatest racehorses of all time. The course has also hosted triple Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner Best Mate. More recently, Denman, winner of the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup began his career with an early win at Exeter.

Are you one of the many attendees to the Exeter New Year’s Day Races? We’d love to hear your experiences, tips and whether you won or lost a fortune on a lucky bet! Do share…

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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