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Earliest meeting: Friday 9th April 1858
Final meeting: Tuesday 10th April 1860
The Wiltshire village of Bishop’s Cannings is in the Vale of Pewsey and its surrounding parish includes the village of Coates and the hamlets of Bourton, Horton and Little Horton. The Manor of Cannings was recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book. Bishps Cannings held its own race meetings in the middle of the 19th century, although they were billed as Pewsey Vale Amateur Steeplechases.  The inaugural meeting was on Friday 9th April 1858 when entries and colours had to be registered for the two Sweepstakes at the Bear Hotel, Devizes. The meeting was successful and the next meeting was held on Tuesday 29th March 1859 with over 3000 people attending, arriving at the races using cabs, carriages and canal barges. The course was from the swing bridge to the brook, with the entire race visible from the canal bank. The Selling Race saw Change of Air beat Jeanette, while the Bourton Stakes was won by Mr W Clarke’s Charity. After racing a Dinner was held at Mr Benjamin’s Crown Inn at Bishop’s Canning. The final meeting was staged on Tuesday 10th April 1860 when the main Sweepstake was won by Ottoman who defeated Spider.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Major Shirley, Mr Benjamin, Mr Hayward
Principal Races Bourton Stakes, Pewsey Vale Sweepstakes, Bishops’ Cannings Selling Race 

Tuesday 10th April 1860
Bourton Steeplechase Stakes
1. Boreham, brown gelding owned by Mr W Harraway
2. Saracen’s Head, brown gelding owned by Major Shirley
3. Silbury, brown gelding owned by Mr R Pearce

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 10th April 1860.
Course today In fields on the edge of the canal, from the swing bridge to the brook at Bishop’s Cannings.
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

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 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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  Quantity Cost
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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