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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 7th June 1808
Final meeting: Saturday 10th April 1965
The Bogside Racecourse, situated near the town of Irvine on the banks of the River Irvine nearly 15 miles from Ayr, held its first meeting on Tuesday 7th June 1808.  However, races had been staged in the vicinity of Bogside prior to this date. A large number of subscribers donated a considerable sum of money in 1636 to support annual meetings in the early part of the 17th century, while meetings known as ‘Irvine Marymass Races’ took place in the 1770s. Well recorded meetings did not begin until 1808, taking place on a triangular course, 2 miles around with right-hand bends, on the private estate owned by the Earl of Eglinton. It was undulating throughout, but had a short run-in and a sharp upward gradient near to the line. The inaugural two day meeting was staged on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th June 1808, opening with a Sweepstake over 3 miles which saw Mr Boswell’s Delpini beat Lord Montgomerie’s Beningbrough filly. A prestigious Silver Cup was added to the programme in 1810, while in 1811 the meeting was advertised as ‘Irvine Races on the Bogside course’. The 1811 meeting proved beneficial for Lord Montgomerie who won five of the races, the other two going to Sir J Maxwell and the Earl of Eglinton. Although racing was staged in 1824 there was then a lapse before racing returned when billed as ‘Eglinton Park races’, which are covered in a separate section. In 1867, with the closing of Houston Racecourse, Bogside inherited the West of Scotland Steeplechase, a demanding race over 3 miles where runners faced 32 fences. The inaugural running at Bogside was won by the Duke of Hamilton’s The Elk, laying the foundation stone for the present day Scottish Grand National. The National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup, over 4 miles and 24 fences, is now contested at the annual Cheltenham Festival in March, but in 1876 it was staged here when Burford won in the hands of Lord Marcus Beresford, and again in 1890 when Innisfail was successful, ridden by Mr T G Arthur. In 1880 the West of Scotland Steeplechase first became recognised as the Scottish Grand National when run over an extended 3 7/8th mile course and won by Peacock. Steeplechasing maintained its prominent position at Bogside, with no flat racing offered between 1878 and 1884, although three races were staged in 1885. However, it was not until the summer meeting in 1900 that the first all Flat racing programme was held on the course. The pinnacle of Flat racing at the course was reached in 1957 when a magnificent meeting took place on Friday 19th July 1957.  Jockey Alec Russell went through the card riding all six winners, his winners being Double Up, Cligarry, Wage Claim, Courtlier, Newton and finally Roseline. Just seven years later the Levy Board, who thought that there were too many meetings for them to all be viable, were drawing up plans to hang some out to dry. The final Flat meeting was held on Saturday 19th September 1964 and the very last National Hunt meeting took place on Saturday 10th April 1965. A packed fixture list and safety concerns were paramount in the Levy Board arriving at the decision to no longer support Bogside financially.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 3 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Earl of Eglinton, Lord Marcus Beresford
Principal Races

Bogside Cup, Scottish Grand National

Saturday 14th April 1962

Scottish Grand National over 3 miles 7 furlongs
1. Sham Fight owned by Mr R M C Jeffrey
2. Threepwood owned by Mr E S M Cameron
3. Skish owned by Mr J Westoll
4. Mr What owned by Mr G V Keeling

The National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup, over 4 miles and 24 fences, is now contested at the annual Cheltenham Festival in March, but in 1876 and 1890 it was held at Bogside, and the results are shown below.
1876 Burford ridden by Lord Marcus Beresford
1890 Innisfail ridden by T.G.Arthur

Tuesday 7th June 1808
Bogside £50 All-Age Sweepstake over 3 miles
1. Honest Harry, bay horse owned by Mr Bates
2. Irvine, grey colt owned by Lord Montgomerie
3. Peteria, grey filly owned by Mr Henderson

The very rare badge, shown opposite, was for Saturday 10th April 1937 when the Scottish Grand National (£700) was run over 3 miles 7 furlongs at Bogside. It was won by Rightun (100/8) owned by Mrs A E Phillips, trained by W Bissill and ridden by J Bissill, winning by 5 lengths, with 1 ½ lengths back to the third.
1. RIGHTUN (100/8) trained by W Bissill and ridden by J Bissill
2. SOUTHERN HERO (11/4 f) trained by G Evans and ridden by J Fawcus
3. HURDY MURDY (100/6) trained by J S Wright and ridden by S McGrath
Also KELLSBORO’ JACK (7/2) trained by Ivor Anthony and ridden by D Morgan
Also POMPIER (100/8) trained by H Smyth and ridden by J Richardson
Also Bryan O’Lynn (100/8) trained by W Payne and ridden by T Isaac
Also ANNOUNCER (25/1) trained by R Renton and ridden by J Ward
Also THE PROFESSOR II (25/1) trained by Capt J C Storie and ridden by A Halford
Also CAREFREE (10/1) trained by P Thrale and ridden by J Elder
Also ANTIPAS (100/8) owned by Lady Lindsay and ridden by W Parvin
Also NORMAN GLORY (100/7) trained by Milne and ridden by J Walsh
Also DIDORIC (10/1) trained by H A Brown and ridden by H Nicholson
Also IRVINE (100/7) trained by R Parker and ridden by J Baxter
Also HERODOIUS (100/6) trained by E B Forwood and ridden by A Scott

I am very grateful to Derek Wilson, a greenkeeper at Bogside Golf Club next to the old Bogside Racecourse, for the scans of the Racecourse shown below. They were taken at the meeting held on 25th July 1959 and reflect ‘A Day at the Races’. He recalls with fondness an incident from a Scottish Grand National meeting in the 1950’s. The usual strong wind was blowing across the course and one of the bookmakers opened their satchel at the wrong time. Staff at the Golf Club were picking fivers out of the bushes for weeks later, at a time when they barely earned 30 shillings a week for greenkeeping.

The packed Grandstand The old numbers board
Bookies doing brisk business Relaying the odds tic-tac style
They're racing Winner returns in triumph
A view of the what remains of the old course Note the threatening concrete posts from the old course
A view of the remains of an old fence

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

The final meeting took place on Saturday 10th April 1965.
Course today Point to point meetings took place for the last time in 1994, although significant evidence of the old racecourse still remains.
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

1929 1931 1935 1951
1953 1955 1958 1963

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

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