Racecourses in Sunbury-on-Thames
Kempton Park was the brainchild of SH Hyde, a 19th century businessman and
a Tory party agent. It is said that he was enjoying a carriage drive in the
country when he came across Kempton Manor and Park for sale. Hyde leased
the grounds in 1872 and six years later in July 1878 Kempton opened as a
The racecourse was intended to attract the up-market punter, particularly the female racegoer and it was hoped that Kempton would enjoy the success of nearby Sandown Park.
During the war Kempton became a prisoner-of- war camp from 1939-1946. The following year racing was resumed. The King George VI Chase which had always been staged in February was moved to Boxing Day to give more breathing space between the race and the big meetings at Aintree and Cheltenham.
The Christmas meeting is undoubtedly the highlight of Kempton, with past winners of the King George including the legendary Desert Orchid, four time winner and forever immortalised at the course with a statue beside the paddock.
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