I am very grateful to our Hong Kong Racing correspondent Miles Dosher for pointing out that the Mayor of Chester was Henry Gee, and it was he who gave permission for the first races to be held on Thursday 9th February 1539. It is from this same Henry Gee that the term 'going to the gee gee's' originates.
Chesters Roodee course is by far
the oldest in England
, and one of the earliest recorded meetings
took place on Shrove Tuesday while Henry VIII was still on the throne. The course was, at
that time, known as the Roode Eye. A special silver bell, costing 3s. 4d., was given as a
prize to the winner of the race.
A feature of Chester races, even to this day, is that
racegoers and horses walk to the racecourse through the city. In this year the former
Sheriff of Chester, Robert Amory, established the St Georges Bells race, with 3 bells of differing values
being given as prizes. The race passed through the New Tower and up Watergate, a route followed by many
horses and punters today.
show that the drapers of Chester, and their associated companies, raised the
princely sum of £24 15s. 10d. to be given towards the cost of the Corporation Plate.
for all of Chesters races from this date are available, but there is local competition
from the courses at Nantwich, Wrexham and Wallasey.
year of change for racing and for Chester. A new law, during the reign of George II,
decreed that horse races could not be run for less than £50. This meant that smaller
courses could not compete, and Chester was forced to increase the prize for the
Corporation Plate (later to be called the City Plate) to £50.
Dee Stakes is run for the first time and is won by Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn.
Chester Cup, known in its earliest days as the Tradesmans Cup, is run for the first
time and won by the 6 year old Doge of Venice carrying top weight. His owner, Sir Thomas
Stanley, was triumphant again in 1827 with Grenadier.
the City Plate is run for the last time, due to Reform Act which prevented public funds
being donated to horse racing.
Chester Cup was won by the mare Alice Hawthorn, trained by Hesseltine on Hambleton Hills..
This was not remarkable at the time, although the horse did only carry 6 stone. However,
she did go on to win 51 of her 71 races including the Goodwood Cup, the Doncaster Cup
twice and the Ascot Gold Vase. By 1844 she was asked to carry 9 st. 8 lbs. in the Chester
Cup, giving a massive 5 st. 8 lbs. to the winning 3 year old Red Deer.
Chester Vase is established and results in a dead-heat in its first running. It is now
used as a classic trial because Chester is left handed and mirrors Epsom.
wins the Chester Vase and gains later classic success in the St. Leger.
Ormonde Stakes, named after the great horse owned by the Duke of Westminster, is run for
the first time and won by Quashed, who is later successful in a classic.