BEDFORDSHIRE HUNT RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: March 1810
Final meeting: Wednesday 27th March 1901
The first Bedfordshire National Hunt race meeting took place in March 1810 on what was believed to be the first purpose built steeplechase course, extending over 3 miles and consisting of 8 fences. There was only one race on offer, and despite having as many as 11 entries, only two horses contested the race. A large crowd witnessed the victory of Fugitive ridden by Mr Spence. Although the crowd was large and the appetite for jump racing obvious, it was to be some considerable time before the second National Hunt meeting took place in Bedford. The Bedfordshire Hunt organised races in and around Bedford from 1830 onwards, and in 1834 the MP George Berkley staged a steeplechase in Bedford in which Lord Clanricarde competed.  Ulick John de Burgh became Lord Clanricarde and was the Ambassador to Russia between 1838 and 1840 before becoming Postmaster General in 1846. The Bedfordshire Hunt committee also organised the National Hunt Steeplechase Challenge Cup at Clapham Park, on the outskirts of Bedford, in both 1867 and 1868. In 1867 it was won by Emperor III ridden by Henry Cotton, whilst in 1868 Tathwell was victorious when ridden by William Brockton. Racing lapsed for a few years until a revival meeting was staged on Friday 16th March 1888, with a field of twelve contesting the Town Plate when Mr C N Manning’s Pilgrim defeated Nancy in the final strides. The meeting on Clapham Park on Wednesday 14th March 1894 opened with the Initial Steeplechase which was won by Mr W Whitehead’s Black Bess, while the Town Plate went to Mr F Percival’s Redthorn.  The Hunt meeting continued to take place annually until a final card was held on Wednesday 27th March 1901.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Lord Clanricarde, Honourable George Grantley Berkley

Principal Races

Oakley Hunt Cup, Bedfordshire Heavyweight Farmers Chase, Bedfordshire Open Hunters’ Chase, Bedfordshire Tradesmen’s Chase

The Bedfordshire Hunt organised races in and around Bedford from 1830 onwards, and in 1834 the MP George Berkley organised a steeplechase in Bedford in which Lord Clanricarde competed.  Ulick John de Burgh became Lord Clanricarde and was the Ambassador to Russia between 1838 and 1840 before becoming Postmaster General in 1846. The Bedfordshire Hunt committee also organised The National Hunt Steeplechase Challenge Cup at Clapham Park, Bedford in both 1867 and 1868. In 1867 it was won by Emperor III ridden by Henry Cotton, whilst in 1868 Tathwell was victorious when ridden by William Brockton.

Wednesday 14th March 1894
Bedford Hunt Open Steeplechase over 3 miles
1. Poussette, 5 year old owned by Mr W Whitehead
2. March Hare, 5 year old owned by Mr C M Prior
3. Midge, aged mare owned by Mr W H MacKenzie

The annual Hunt meeting continued to take place annually until the final meeting held on Wednesday 27th March 1901.

Course today At Clapham Park.
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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