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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 30th March 1881
Final meeting: Tuesday 29th April 1902
The Essex village of Heybridge is located close to the town of Maldon on the River Blackwater. In the early days Heybridge was called Tidwalditun, and on the outskirts of the village was an estate called Champion Lodge. In the latter part of the 19th century the Lodge was owned by a colourful character called Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny who had a very wide range of interests and lived life to the full. One of his primary interests was horse racing and in 1881 he came up with the novel idea of building his own racecourse. It is a testament to his drive and energy that he first mooted the idea in early March 1881 and by the end of the month he was hosting his first meeting. The racecourse, spread across his estate, extended over a mile in circumference and consisted of 6 fences. He had the entrepreneurship to get a local builder to build him a Grandstand for free on the understanding that the builder could build a second one from which the builder could derive an income from fee paying guests at the races. The inaugural meeting of the grandly named ‘Champion Lodge Hunt and Military Steeplechases’ took place on 30th March 1881. There was a full 6 race programme which included the Farmer’s Cup, Hunt Cup, Military Cup, Ladies Cup and a Consolation Steeplechase, as well as a Match. Whilst Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny rode Cartridge in the Match, and was defeated by Sam ridden by Mr Lawrence, his wife, Lady de Crespigny won the Ladies Cup with Wild George. Races continued each year in the Spring, either in late March or early April, until 1889 when there was a break. Three further meetings took place at various intervals, one in 1892, then in 1901 before a final meeting on 29th April 1902.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Sir Claude Champion de Drespigny
Principal Races Champion Lodge Hunt Cup, Military Cup, Ladies Cup, Consolation Steeplechase

1st April 1884

Champion Lodge Hunt Cup
1. Pat, ridden by Billy Morris

Champion Lodge Consoltaion
1. Jack ridden by Mr Rodwell

Champion Lodge Ladies’ Cup
1. Lady Alice, owned by Mrs Reid and ridden by Mr Fellowes

Loyal Suffolk Hussars’ Cup
Sporran walked over

Champion Lodge Farmers’ Cup
1. Architect owned by Mr Rust

In 1885 the Champion Lodge Hunt and Military Steeplechases were held on 14th March when the weather was good and the attendance large.

14th March 1885

Point to Point Steeplechase
1. Kaliph

Saturday 14th March 1885
Champion Lodge Hunt Cup
1. Hochheimer, owned by Mr Cooke and ridden by Mr Rodwell
2. Shylock, owned by Mr J W Williams
3. Sporran, owned and ridden by Sir Claude Champion De Crespigny
Betting : Evens Sporran, 2/1 Hochheimer, 3/1 Shylock

Farmers’ Plate
1. Architect owned by Mr Rust and ridden by Sir Claude Champion De Crespigny

Hurdle Race Plate
1. Elmina ridden by Tyrell De Crespigny

United Service Cup
1. Maryx owned by Mr W Cobbett and ridden by Mr J Cobbett
2. Coldstream ridden by Sir Claude Champion De Crespigny

Consolation Steeplechase
1. Sporran ridden by Sir Claude Champion De Crespigny

The 1886 Champion Lodge meeting fell on 1st April and comprised a 6 race card.

1st April 1886

Ladies’ Cup
1. Problem owned by Mr Barkley
2. Forester ridden by Sir Claude Champion De Crespigny

Hunt Cup
1. Paleface owned by Captain Henderson and ridden by Mr Purefoy
2. Sporran ridden by Sir Claude Champion De Crespigny

Champion Lodge Cup
1. Telemachus ridden by Mr Tippler
2. Flushing ridden by Sir Claude Champion De Crespigny

Selling Hunters’ Hurdle Race Plate
1. Telemachus ridden by Mr Tippler
2. Ariosto ridden by Sir Claude Champion De Crespigny

After a lapse in racing at Champion Lodge of almost 10 years racing returned in 1901. The revival of the Champion Lodge Steeplechases saw the return of the Champion Lodge Cup which Sir Claude won on Major Henry Shelley Dalbiac’s Kozak.

The final meeting took place on 29th April 1902.

Course today

The Champion Lodge estate has now been renamed Totham Lodge and is an old peoples home.

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

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