October 07 2009
The new jumping season begins at Cheltenham next month, and if you feel like celebrating a winner with a good dinner after racing, the Wesley House in Winchcombe – an atmospheric restaurant with rooms, situated in a beautiful town little more than 12 miles from the course – is highly recommended. An increasing number of discerning owners, trainers, bookmakers and punters have come to realise that exuberant chef-proprietor Martin Dunn’s two- and three-course set menus (dinner £29.50 per person) offer some of the best food in the Cotswolds, served in a far more characterful setting than the grand but impersonal addresses in nearby villages such as Broadway. I have eaten there up to a dozen times now and the local game in season, the roast guinea fowl and an exquisite warm frangipane tart with honeycomb ice cream were particularly memorable.
There’s a comfortable bar with a big log fire, five bedrooms upstairs if you don’t want to drive (£80 for a double room, including breakfast), and an adjoining modern bar and grill where non-residents can enjoy a slap-up breakfast before the racing gets under way. During the 2008 Cheltenham Festival I bumped into the top Irish trainer Willie Mullins there one evening and he gave me a big tip for his runner FiveForThree the following day. The horse won at 7-1 in a pulsating finish and we celebrated back at the Wesley House until the early hours.