A dual-purpose race track on the borders of Kent, Surrey and Sussex, Lingfield Park hosts flat racing on turf and its all-weather polytrack throughout the calendar year. Its all-weather track is one of only five in the UK, with others being held at Chelmsford City, Wolverhampton, Southwell and Kempton.
Situated within a 450-acre estate, Lingfield was opened by the Prince of Wales (Edwards VII) in 1890. In its infancy the course was home to jump racing only, but in 1894 the Jockey Club granted permission for flat racing to be held here continuously right up until the present day.
The turf course at Lingfield is one mile and four furlong in circumference and run left-handed. Its sharp turns and galloping nature make it a stern test of stamina for all. The circuit is triangular in shape, featuring a stiff incline to the end of the back straight before a sharp turn and steep descent to home.
Lingfield’s polytrack course is used in winter only and situated on the inside of the turf circuit. It’s one mile and two furlongs in length. The flat turf course is also converted into a hurdles course in the winter months, featuring six flights, but remains sharp and galloping and is therefore well suited to front-runners again.
Notable races on the Lingfield fixture list include the Winter Derby on the all-weather track and the Group 3 Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes on the turf.
David Probert says: “It's probably the most idiosyncratic of the all weather tracks because of the hill. It's pretty level from the mile and a quarter start and down the back, but from the four furlong to the two furlong poles you're running down that hill. Some horses don't handle the hill which makes it a tricky track to ride; many of the jockeys will start to make their move at about the three - halfway down the hill, on the home bend - trying to get some of their rivals off balance. That's where you'll see most of the manoeuvres, jostling for position, trying to either get an inside run or slingshot off the bend if a little wider.
In five and six furlong handicaps, you want to be handy, and perhaps ideally with a middle draw to cut the corner a little. That gives you the most options. They're both tricky starts, the five in a little chute on the crown of the bend, and the six just before the bend on the main track. Inside draws need to be very quick away and edge right a bit to get a position, because if you don't you'll be in a pocket and it'll be hard. The six furlong trip is a bit more forgiving because you've got half a furlong or so before the bend, but you still need to jump and get a position quickly.
But over longer trips, certainly beyond a mile, it's very hard to make the running and win. I try and sit third or fourth, and one off the rail. If you're on the rail you can get boxed in as horses vie for positions and then you have to wait for them to pass before making your run. It's certainly a tricky track and one where you need to be in the right place at the right time.
Lane wise, it's pretty fair in the straight: I've seen horses coming up the rail to win, and horses fanning wide and winning, so there doesn't seem to be any advantage to one or other path in the last quarter. And the kickback is mild, probably the least of all the all weather circuits.”
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