BEAUFORT HUNT RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 17th December 1867
Final meeting: Saturday 14th April 1956
The Wiltshire market town of Westbury was the setting for the first Beaufort Hunt race meeting in 1867. The town, close to Malmesbury, has a rich history and was once the site of an Iron Age settlement, before the Anglo-Saxons built a monastery. Indeed, Aethelstan, the first recognised King of England, was buried in Malmesbury Abbey in 939. The Beaufort Hunt is known to have been in existence since at least 1786 when the then 5th Duke of Beaufort had a pack of hounds. However, it took almost another hundred years before the Hunt Committee organised its own steeplechase meeting. That inaugural 2 day meeting took place in Westbury on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th December 1867 and then became a roving meeting for the next 11 years. The meeting was staged at various times at Dauntsey, Little Sodbury and Charlton Park before resting on Sherston and Alderton. The final meeting took place on Saturday 14th April 1956 when a certain John Lawrence, later to become Lord Oaksey, rode at the meeting claiming 7 lbs.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Cowley, Duke of Beaufort
Principal Races

Open Steeple Chase, Open Handicap Chase, Badminton Handicap Chase

Tuesday 17th December 1867
Longleat Stakes entries over 2 ½ miles
St Magnus, Penelope, Tinderbox, Tramore Lass
Turpentine, Barbarian, Blarney, Swindler
Useless, Sunbeam, Bessie, Jacob, Merry Horn

The course was a good trial ground for Grand National horses, with the 1892 winner, Father O’Flynn, finishing second at the 1891 meeting. One of the stalwart Beaufort Hunt supporters, Lord Cowley, jointly owned Cloister, along with Mr C G Duff,  which finished second in the 1892 Grand National, but went on to win the big race in 1893.

In 1888 the meeting moved to Sherston, which became a popular, well attended racecourse. It was a left handed track of a mile and a half, with a run-in of 260 yards. After being a nomadic meeting for so many years, the Sherston course offered a degree of stability and was used by the Beaufort Hunt until its demise in 1956. However, there was a break in 1894 when the meeting switched to Acton Turville, and also a possible renaming of the course to Alderton after the First World War.

Course today

There is little evidence remaining of the previous courses, but the Beaufort Hunt still organises point-to-point meetings which are held at Oldbury on the Hill near Didmarton.

If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email johnwslusar@gmail.com

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing johnwslusar@gmail.com stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
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Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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