Plumpton. 8/5/2022 Pic Steve Davies

Plumpton Racecourse: Sussex’s hidden gem wins by a length

Established in 1884, Plumpton Racecourse offers thrilling National Hunt racing against the stunning backdrop of East Sussex’s South Downs. With meetings between September and May, alongside a packed schedule of other events, it’s hosted numerous memorable moments for the sport of Kings.

Charles, Prince of Wales, now King Charles III, made his debut as an amateur jockey, here in 1980,” Plumpton’s Chief Executive, Craig Staddon,​ tells me. “He finished second aboard favourite Long Wharf. Just four days later, he finished fourth aboard Sea Swell in his first steeplechase at Sandown.”

Plumpton. 8/5/2022 Pic Steve Davies

Plumpton’s successful horse history

Over the past 30 years, it would be fair to say that the best horse to run at Plumpton was the famed Voy Por Ustades. Very early in its career, it won a novice chase in 2005. He’s gone on to become one of the best steeplechasers of the era. Also, winning notable races like The Arkle Trophy (2006) and Queen Mother Champion Chase (2007) at Cheltenham and winning and being placed some 26 times from 37 races run – amassing total earnings in excess of £1m.

Similarly successful, Pentland Hills won a maiden hurdle in February 2019. It then went on to triumph at both the prestigious Cheltenham Festival’s JCB Triumph Hurdle and Aintree’s Doom Bar Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle. Most recently, Plumpton saw Stage Star win in January on Sussex National Day. Stage Star has gone on to recently dominate the Cheltenham Festival’s Turners Novices’ Chase.

Staddon has forged his career in the industry, previously working at two of the biggest racecourses in the world. He worked as Racing Sales Manager at Cheltenham Racecourse for six-and-a-half years. Then, Staddon joined Ascot as Head of Sales in 2012. “During my 15 years in this industry, I have been consistent in leading successful commercial change. I have been unafraid to challenge the status quo.” As you’d guess, he’s an avid racing enthusiast, with experience of owning horses through syndication. He’s adamant about the positive impact the Racecourse has on the surrounding community. As the second largest employer in the area, it attracts over 40,000 people every year and contributes over £1m in revenue to the local economy.

This month sees Plumpton’s Easter Festival on Sun 9 – Mon 10 April.

Their biggest weekend of the year, it offers some superb track action. Among seven races each day there’s two high-quality feature races – on Easter Sunday, we have the £50,000 Sussex Champion Hurdle and Easter Monday it’s the £50,000 Sussex Champion Chase. These are both fantastic spectacles where the winners will have their names etched into Plumpton history, and you can find out more about the features races here.

Easter at Plumpton always generates a fantastic atmosphere for all the family.

There’ll be a range of activities, including horse hoppers, magician/balloon man, buskers, pony rides. Also expect falconry, a petting farm, face painting, a bouncy castle, Easter bunnies, treasure island sweets and a funfair. And children can come to the races for free, when accompanied by an adult. 

Alongside the treats for friends, families and groups during race days, there’s also an array of other experiences to discover. The site’s first-class facilities accommodating everything from parties and proms to business meetings and team building. “We race 17 days a year, so we have 300+ days for other events. Our remarkable venue provides a show-stopping setting for any occasion, complemented by the best cuisines and ambitious team of experienced event professionals.” He tells me Plumpton currently offers a portfolio of more than 50 stunning indoor and outdoor event spaces, set across 100 acres of beautiful parkland. “We’re certain we’ll find the solution to any bespoke needs.”  The site is used by both corporate clients and consumers, attendees being the NHS, Duke Of Edinburgh, Pony Club numerous wedding and school proms to name just a few. 

A memorable experience guaranteed

Whether you’re watching the Sky Sports Racing Sussex National from trackside, toasting the Sussex Champion Hurdle in Paddock Restaurant. Or maybe you’re celebrating winning the Sussex Champion Hurdle in a private box, there’s many ways to spend your race day. With close proximity to the A23, and the railway station next door serving the line between Haywards Heath and Lewes, the course enjoys brilliant transport links to London and the whole of the south coast. So, it couldn’t be easier to sample the exhilaration of racing or check out their plethora of off-season events.

“Plumpton is a real hidden gem,” says Staddon.

“I feel that most people aren’t aware of who and what we provide, especially within the county & region. Or if they are, they might not see Plumpton as a place to necessarily attend – even though we have something for everyone!” It’s not only certainly about the exhilarating horse racing. There’s loads of other attractions on-hand to create a fantastic, easily accessible day out.  There’s entertainment for all ages, which is often free. “Families can purchase our picnic enclosure (situated inside the racecourse) whereby they can bring picnic tables, gazebos and their own food and beverage. Racing provides a full day, so it is great value for money.”
For more information on race-days and their other brilliant events, including the upcoming Easter Festival, head to: www.plumptonracecourse.co.uk

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