Exeter is a cathedral and university city perched on the River Exe in Devon, south-west England.
There is evidence of settlements here in pre-Roman times and Exeter became a Roman fortified settlement and was their main one in this area. It was occupied by Saxons as history moved into medieval times. They in turn were driven out by the Vikings who were in turn driven out by Alfred The Great. Subsequent Viking attempts to recapture the city failed. Not long after the Normans arrived in England, this area rebelled against their rule but the rebellion was put down. Following The English Civil War (occupied by both sides), Exeter became quite prosperous, particularly in the wool industry. The city’s development in all things agricultural continued all the way through the Industrial Revolution.
Today, Exeter is a small and modern city with a massive history there to be explored by visitors
Exeter is close to the M5, so access is quite straightforward. It’s not so far to travel into Cornwall or to Somerset. As a town that attracts a lot of visitors, it is well set up for accommodation, eateries and bars.
Exeter Cathedral is particularly worth a visit
Exeter Racecourse hosts only National Hunt Racing on turf.
Exeter is a two mile, oval, right-handed and undulating circuit. The home straight of four furlongs is uphill all the way to the line and the course overall provides a good test of stamina.
There is no artificial watering system so in dry weather the course can be very dry and perhaps firmer than other courses. It can become very testing in winter time.
Clerk of the course: Barry Johnson
Course telephone number: 01392 832599
Exeter is 197 miles from Central London, 162 miles from Birmingham, 81 miles from Bristol, 111 miles from Cardiff, 240 miles from Manchester and just under 450 miles from Edinburgh.
The racecourse is situated in Haldon which is about 5 miles south-west of Exeter just off A38 Plymouth Road.
The course post code is EX6 7XS
Course parking is absolutely free and in the centre of the course.
The nearest railway station is Exeter St David’s. The course run a courtesy bus, details of which are published on their website.
There were two enclosures to choose from, namely the Premier Stand and The Grandstand. There is no strict dress code for either with the course advising, quite sensibly, to dress for the weather.
Viewing from the stands is pretty good though it’s quite an undulating course and I’m not sure how much can be seen with the naked eye through binoculars (I can’t use them as I wear glasses to watch anything in detail).
There’s plenty of bars and eateries to choose from and everything is a fair bit cheaper than some courses I have visited. I personally used The Best Mate Bar though only drinking coffee. But I did have a Steak Pasty in there which was just divine, I loved it. Once again, I can only be praiseworthy of the staff here, they were very courteous.
I enjoyed being here today. This is another pretty course and very friendly too. I was glad to be able to get a ‘decent’ Cornish Pasty with proper meat in it t00. I really liked the way that all the bars etc were named after famous horses, including Desert Orchid, Denman and Best Mate.
I was intending to back the Ben Pauling trained Nestor Park in the opener, a Novice Hurdle. He did OK in bumpers last year, despite being outclassed in the Cheltenham Festival Bumper. His trainer apparently has a high opinion of him and has one or two big targets for him. I was considering 7/2 for a bet and he was withdrawn so that was that. I will look out for him again.
In race 3, a Class 4 Handicap Hurdle, I was considering top weight and previous course winner Bear Rails, trained by Colin Tizard and ridden by Harry Cobden and the Nicky Martin trained Sonoftheking ridden by Matt Griffiths and who won this race last year. Its wasn’t a two horse affair by any means but I could find too many faults with the others on a variety of issues. In the end, I plump for Bear Rails who I think might be a little ahead of the handicapper based on his win at Wincanton at the end of last season. Sonoftheking has 5lb more to carry than when winning here last year but in any event is now also withdrawn.
Bear Rails raced prominently enough but seem to go out like a light once the race began in earnest along the back straight. There you go! Hardly ahead of the handicapper, honestly, I’ll never make an analyst!
The fifth race, a beginners chase looks to me to be at the mercy of Tom George trained Black Op given his splendid Novice Hurdle form from last year, including his second to Samcro at Cheltenham. The Phillip Hobbs trained and Richard Johnson ridden I’m A Game Changer looks a viable each way alternative but his hurdle form was not as good as that of my selection. But guess what? My selection in this is withdrawn as well. Disappointed as I was looking forward to seeing him run.
As it turned out, it was a third winner on the card for the Colin Tizzard team as The Russian Doyen wins comfortably. In race 6, a Class 3 Handicap Hurdle I thought Trans Express was worth a small each way bet. He had been a winner three times and all of them here at Exeter so clearly likes it here. But a tricky contest so stakes kept to a minimum. I backed him last night and was more than a little surprised to see him open on the day at the top of the market.
The Jockey tried to make all and run the finish out of the rest but was easily passed by Whatcombe Heights after turning for home (Colin Tizzard again!) and kept on for 2nd place, rewarding my each way interest The final race of the day, a Class 4 Novices Hurdle for mares includes Evidence De Thaix trained by Phillip Hobbs and ridden by Barry Geraghty. I’ve been nudged in this direction by my Twitter buddy @genuinetriers. Recruited from French Bumpers and looks a real interesting recruit to British racing. At the time I bet, it was already being well backed.
But this was another horse I fancied and backed that got withdrawn today. So I didn’t bother waiting for the race and just wandered off to my hotel for the evening.
I will gladly return here and probably very soon.
Hopefully Taunton on the way home tomorrow with a small profit from today!