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The closest racecourse to central London, situated 16 miles south-west of Trafalgar Square, Kempton Park is a dual-purpose track serving both National Hunt and all-weather racing all year-round.

Kempton is most famous for its Christmas Festival, with the Boxing Day action headlined in often spectacular style by the Grade 1 King George VI Chase.

Racing at the Sunbury-on-Thames venue dates back to the 19th century and looks sure to prevail long into the future after a potential sale of the racecourse for development purposes was vetoed.

Here's our guide to Kempton Park racecourse.

WhatChristmas Festival
WhereKempton Park Racecourse, Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey
WhenTuesday 26th & Wednesday 27th December, 2023
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, ITV & Racing TV

Key Races at Kempton

- Magnolia Stakes
- Roseberry Stakes
- Sirenia Stakes
- September Stakes
- Floodlit Stakes 

- Lanzarote Hurdle
- Silviniaco Conti Chase
- Adonis Hurdle
- Dovecote Novices' Hurdle
- Kempton Mares' Listed Hurdle
- King George VI Chase
- Kauto Star Novices' Chase
- Christmas Hurdle
- Wayward Lad Novices' Chase
- Desert Orchid Chase

Kempton now stages flat racing throughout the year after its turf course was replaced with a Polytrack synthetic surface in 2006.

It has become one of the most popular AW tracks and the long home straight, allied to the cutaway halfway up it, make it a very fair test.

All of Kempton's historic flat races have been transferred to the all-weather, including the Easter Stakes, Magnolia Stakes, September Stakes and Rosebery Handicap.

It is, however, as a jumps venue that Kempton enjoys most notoriety and that is largely owing to their two-day Christmas Festival which boasts a trio of Grade 1 races.

The King George VI Chase was first run in 1937 and the three-mile chase is the second-most important steeplechase in Britain, ensuring that it boasts a roll of honour equal to the Cheltenham Gold Cup itself.

Run on Boxing Day, it is the main racing attraction on a sporting day filled with festive treats.

The most famous King George horse of them all was Kauto Star - winner in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 for trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Ruby Walsh.

To that end, the Grade 1 novice on the same card is now known as the Kauto Star Novices' Chase, while the Boxing Day trio of Grade 1s is completed by the Christmas Hurdle over two-miles.

Day two of the December festival includes the Wayward Lad Novices' Chase and the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase, named after another Kempton great.

'Dessie' won four King Georges from 1986-1990 and is immortalised with his own statue at Kempton Park.

In mid-January, the Lanzarote Hurdle is a fiercely competitive handicap over two-miles-and-five-furlongs and is another of Kempton's jumping jewels.

Track Layout

The AW surface in use is Polytrack and Kempton is a flat, oval-shaped course with two loops.

The inner circuit, used for races over five, nine and ten furlongs is sharp and has a finishing straight of just under two furlongs, favouring the speedy types.

The turn on the outer course is more sweeping and the straight is almost three furlongs in length, providing a very fair test for all horses.

The right-handed jumps track is flat and the fences are considered fairly easy. To that end, Kempton often favours speedier types who travel strongly in their races.

They must also handle the intersections with the all-weather circuit, while winners of the three-mile King George are often required to 'prove' their stamina elsewhere, at the likes of Cheltenham.

Visiting Kempton

As noted above, Kempton is the closest racecourse to central London, situated just 16 miles south-west of Trafalgar Square and, as such, the Surrey course is very popular, particularly for the top-class jumps action in the winter months.

The spectacular glass-fronted Panoramic Restaurant provides a special raceday experience like no other with views onto the winning line and out across the course.

Kempton's Private Dining & Box Experiences include the VIP Experiences - champagne reception, four-course dinner, complimentary bar and private box with views of the winning post - alongside Premier and Classic offerings.

The Food Court on the ground floor of the main Grandstand has something for all tastes as well as the Kings of Kempton Bar and the Sports Bar for refreshments.

Like many Jockey Club courses, Kempton strives to make racing something that can be enjoyed by 'anyone and everyone' and, to that end, the dress code simply implores to come "dressed to feel your best".

For AW meetings, racegoers are reminded of the need to dress to be prepared for the elements, particularly under the floodlights in the winter months.

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