Badges through the decades

Brief History


  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.


 Chester’s 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 George’s 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.



 Records 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.



 Records for all of Chesters races from this date are available, but there is local competition from the courses at Nantwich, Wrexham and Wallasey.



 A 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.



 The Dee Stakes is run for the first time and is won by Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn.



 The Chester Cup, known in its earliest days as the Tradesman’s 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.



 Sadly the City Plate is run for the last time, due to Reform Act which prevented public funds being donated to horse racing.



 The 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.


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 The 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.



 Bayardo wins the Chester Vase and gains later classic success in the St. Leger.



 The 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.

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