CUPAR RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: April 1621
Final meeting: Wednesday 29th September 1841

It is known that racing first took place in the Fife town of Cupar as early as 1610 when meetings were held in both Cupar and Dunfermline. A new course was used eleven years later when a meeting was staged in April 1621, as reported in the ‘Caledonian Mercury’ of the day. The course was situated some 4 miles out of the town, with entries made at the local Inn called The Bow of Fife. However, further details of racing in the area are not provided until 40 years later. It was on the Tuesday 30th April 1661 that the Laird of Philiphawch won the first running of the Silver Cup on a horse ridden by John Hoome. An exciting meeting took place on Monday 12th April 1666 when the horses were not the main focus of attention. A number of prominent landed gentry attended the races, including the Earl of Wemyss, the Earl of Rothes, Lord Melville and Lord Newark, but it was Lord Lithgow and Lord Carnegie who took their sport too seriously that day. They both contested the Cup race but had a disagreement during the race and decided to sort the problem out through a duel. The duel took place on nearby Tarbet Broom and the weapons of choice were swords. Lord Carnegie is said to have wounded Lord Lithgow before others intervened. Racing seems to have continued, but without too much detail being reported, until the early 1800s when racing was organised by the Royal Caledonian Hunt Club. The first occasion results were reported in the Racing Calendar was from the three day meeting, spread over four days, from Wednesday 28th to Saturday 31st October 1801. The meeting opened with a 4 mile heat which saw Mr Fletcher’s Lady Legs defeat Scot’s Betty and Mr Thompson’s bay horse. After a day off on Thursday reserved for hunting, the meeting resumed on Friday 30th October with a 4 mile race for real hunters in which Mr George’s Cheap beat Mr Dalziel’s mare and Vinegar owned by Mr Thompson. The meeting concluded with a Handicap in which Lady Legs repeated her success of the first day by beating Captain Thompson’s bay horse. The meeting struggled to fill just two years later when only four horses contested the principal race which was won by Mr Carnegie’s bay horse. By 1815 Cupar had really arrived on the racing scene, adding a Gold Cup to their programme, although disappointingly it was won by Pelter, owned by Mr P Hay, who just had to walk over when unopposed. Controversy surrounded the Gold Cup of 23rd September 1824 which was won with ease by Mr Maule’s Ledstone. However, having previously won the Montrose Cup, Ledstone should have carried a 3lb penalty. The owners of Mr Carnegie’s Balmain, who occupied the runners-up spot, objected to the winner and the matter was referred to the Jockey Club. After a lengthy investigation the Jockey Club concluded that Ledstone should have carried 9st 1lb, rather than 8st 12lbs, and was duly disqualified, with the Gold Cup awarded to Balmain. The year 1832 proved to be significant in the history of Cupar racecourse because it ran its own St Leger and was awarded a prestigious His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Plate. On 16th October 1832 the Cupar St Leger, over a mile and a half, was won by Mr Ramsay’s XXX, beating Sir J Boswell’s Vyvyan and Lady Louisa. Three days later, on 19th October, His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Plate, over a demanding 4 miles, went to Mr Montgomery’s Terror, defeating Lord Elcho’s Philip and Ballochmyle. The final meeting took place on Wednesday 29th September 1841, billed as the Fife Hunt meeting, with results included in Baily's Racing Register, when the Fife Plate went to Mr Sadiland’s Moleskin and the Fife Purse to Mr Maitland’s Defiance.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 3 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.

Local Patrons Lord Kennedy, Lord Glenlyon, Captain Adams, General Balfour, Skene Moncrieff
Principal Races Caledonian Hunt Cup, Cupar Hunters Plate, Cupar Open Plate, Cupar Handicap Stakes

October 1817

Cupar Open Plate
1. Lucifer owned by Mr Skene Moncrieff
2. Habeas Corpus owned by Lord Kennedy

Cupar Hunters Plate
1. Tarvit owned by Mr Rigg
2. Fidget owned by Mr Skene Moncrieff
3. Unnamed horse owned by Captain Adams

Cupar Handicap Stakes
1. Little Provost owned by General Balfour
2. Tarvit owned by Mr Rigg

Wednesday 29th September 1841

The Fife Plate over a mile and the distance
1. Moleskin owned by Mr Sandiland
2. Defiance owned by Mr Maitland

Fife Purse over a mile and the distance
1. Defiance owned by Mr Maitland
2. Confusion owned by Lord Glenlyon

The final meeting took place on Wednesday 29th September 1841, was billed as the Fife Hunt meeting and included in Baily's Racing Register from which results are shown above.
Course today About 4 miles from the town centre.
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:-

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

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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