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Earliest meeting: Saturday 12th April 1884
Final meeting: Monday 11th April 1904

The West Norfolk village of East Winch first held races in 1884 when they were organised by the West Norfolk Hunt Committee and consisted of a programme of just two races held on Saturday 12th April. The first race, the Lightweight Handicap, was full of controversy when Martyr won on the disqualification of first passed the post Useful who lost the race because he had previously contested a race not under rules. The left-handed racecourse extended over arable fields but included natural jumps, a water jump and a brook that was taken twice, the course contained 18 fences in all. The meeting was accessible by train to East Winch Station and a short half a mile walk to the West of the Station. In order to increase the popularity and scope of the race meetings the West Norfolk Hunt Club was formed and had, as its President, The Prince of Wales, with Secretary Sir Dighton Probyn. By 1888 huge crowds were attending the meeting, including the Royal Family who were transported in a four horse drag from nearby Sandringham. It was reported that within 3 years some 12,000 people attended East Winch races, including nearly 8,000 brought in by trains from far and wide. In 1889 the meeting was once again attended by Royalty, including the Crown Prince of Denmark and the Earl and Countess of Romney. The Prince of Wales attended yet again in 1894, bringing with him his wife and daughters Louise, Victoria and Maud. The Princess is reported to have taken her youngest daughter Princess Maud to inspect and photograph the Water Jump. At the meeting held in 1901 there were no Royal visitors as they were in mourning for Queen Victoria, but a new silver trophy, donated by King Edward VII, was contested as The King’s Cup. By 1902 there were murmurings that the course was unsafe and the fences too large when the weather was inclement, and this discussion continued into 1903 when the Race Committee felt they ought to look for a less challenging, more suitable venue. That new venue was Fakenham and meant the final meeting at East Winch was on Monday 11th April 1904, when Longnor won the King’s Cup.
Local Patrons King Edward VII, Prince of Wales, Sir Dighton Probyn, Earl of Romney
Principal Races King's Cup, East Winch Light Weight Steeplechase, East Winch Welter Weight Steeplechase

Saturday 12th April 1884

East Winch Light Weight Steeplechase over 3 miles
1. Martyr owned by Mr T Everitt
2. Useful owned by Mr H Bentley
Useful was first past the post but later disqualified for having previously contested a race not under National Hunt Rules.

East Winch Welter Weight Steeplechase over 3 miles
1. Frederick owned by Mr A Fountaine
2. Conjuror owned by Mr A Jarvis
3. Martyr owned by Mr T Everitt

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

The final meeting took place on Monday 11th April 1904.
Course today

In arable fields within walking distance of the town and station. There is no evidence today of the previous existence of a racecourse except open fields in a dip where once 12,000 people, including The Prince and Princess of Wales and his daughter, had attended a popular racing venue.

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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