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Earliest meeting: Friday 5th May 1865
Final meeting: Thursday 8th May 1873
The earliest date on which racing took place in the Hampshire district of Hambledon was in 1791 at Soberton Downs when organised by Hambledon Foxhound Committee. It was not until 1824 that the Sporting Magazine and Racing Calendar included results from those meetings. Throughout the 1850s and 1860s the Hambledon Hunt meetings continued, but using a range of courses. After 1860 the Hunt moved to Waterloo, then Droxford before arriving at Bushey Downs in 1865. The course was situated 5 miles from Bishop’s Waltham, 6 miles from Waterloo and barely a mile from Grenville. It was close to a very old course which had been used previously on land sub-let by Mr Goose to Earl Poulett the driving force behind the Hunt. That first meeting on the course was staged on Friday 5th May 1865 and racing continued at this venue for 8 years until a final meeting on Thursday 8th May 1873 when the opening Farmer’s Cup was won by Octoroom who defeated The Pony. The Hunt then moved home again, this time to its final permanent home at Grenville.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Earl Poulett, Captain Berkeley; Mr C.Shard, Mr W J Long (Steward)

Principal Races Hambledon Trial Stakes (Mile and a quarter); Hambledon Farmer's Cup (2 miles), Heart of Oak Cup

Hambledon Trial Stakes ( 1 ¼ miles)
1. Gossoon owned by Mr H Smith
2. Unnamed filly by Waterloo owned by Mr C.Shard
3. Swindon owned by Captain Berkeley

Hambledon Farmer’s Cup (2 miles)
1. Buccaneer owned by Mr Legg
2. Ploughboy owned by Mr Saint

Throughout the 1840’s and 1850’s the meetings continued but a range of courses were used, although Soberton Downs continued to be the most popular, being used from 1791-1855 and 1857-1860. Other courses used were Wickham (1856 only) to the South West of Hambledon, Waterloo in 1861 (Waterlooville), Droxford (from 1862) and Bushey Downs (up to 1873) to the North West and Grenville Hall. Once Hambledon Hunt Committee moved the races to Grenville Hall in 1874 this became their permanent home, and racing continued until Thursday 7th May 1914 when the War caused the meetings to cease.

The final Flat race meeting took place on 5th May 1829. After the First World War had ended racing returned to Grenville Hall racecourse, with the first post War meeting taking place on Friday 30th April 1920. The final meeting took place on Friday 4th May 1928.
Course today

Today there is little visible evidence of where the racecourse once stood, with the ground being ploughed and used as farm land, but the remains of the old grandstand can still be seen as a reminder to glorious race days that once graced the ground. The course was used for point to point races until Saturday 15th March 1952

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:-

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

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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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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