Fakenham Racecourse History

In 1886 the West Norfolk Hunt meeting was graced by the presence of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, and he became the President of the course for over 20 years. The Hunt Group had staged their meetings at East Winch from 1839, but in the early 20th century they sought a new course.The Prince of Wales offered a trophy in 1904 to be awarded to the winner of the Hunters’ Steeplechase at the first Fakenham meeting which took place on Easter Monday 24th April 1905. It was the second race on the card and was won by Miss L A North's Ivanhoe. The Queen became patron of the course in 1952 and maintained that position for half a century. On 30th March 1964 the meeting finally became known as Fakenham, having previously been the West Norfolk Hunt meeting. The new stable lad’s hostel at Fakenham was completed in 1972, and the new grandstand opened in 2001. In 2002 the Prince of Wales took over from the Queen as Patron of the racecourse.

Currently the racecourse offers 6 fixtures annually.

Easter Monday 24th April 1905
Fakenham Town Plate Steeplechase

1. Uncle Fred, 5 year old owned and trained by Mr G C Poole
2. Borderer II, 6 year old owned by Mr J Upton Gaskell and trained by Mr Jarvis
3. Arrogant, 5 year old owned by Mr H F Bassett and trained by Mr Paul

Fakenham continues to thrive today, whereas nearby Hethersett closed its gates for the final time in 1939.

The Norfolk village of Hethersett first staged racing in the latter part of the 19th century. The inaugural meeting was held on Friday 23rd March 1888 when organised by the Hussars. The locally based 19th and 20th Hussars Regiment enjoyed racing and the meetings continued throughout their time in the area.  The course was situated approximately 2 miles from Norwich, close to the village of Hethersett and Hethersett Station. Racing returned to Hethersett in 1904 when the Norwich Hunt took over administrative duties. These meetings continued for ten years until the outbreak of World War I. By 1928 the first meeting to be organised by the Hethersett race committee was staged on Thursday 8th March 1928. Meetings continued to be well supported by the locals, and races were always competitive, often with large fields. The final meeting under rules took place on Thursday 4th May 1939, after which the War intervened. However, once the war was over racing did not make an immediate return, the course eventually being used by the Norwich Staghounds for point to point races between 1953 and 1963, with meetings ceasing in 1970.

Friday 23rd March 1888
19th Hussars Regimental Challenge Cup over 2 ½ miles
1. Recluse, chestnut gelding owned by Mr Swan
2. Tony, bay gelding owned by Mr Craven
3. The Chief, black gelding owned by Colonel Combe
Betting: Evens Tony, 6/4 Recluse, 3/1 The Chief

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the 1945 map shown below.
1978 Gents 1979 Ladies 1980 Gents 1981 Gents 1982 Gents

The newspaper extracts below, from the inaugural meeting at Fakenham on Easter Monday 24th April 1905, are shown courtesy of the Norwich Mercury (26/4/1905) and British Library Online.

1987 Matched Pair 1988 Matched Pair 1989 Gents
1990 Gents 1991 Gents 1992 Gents 1993 Gents 1994 Gents
1995 Gents 1996 Gents 1997 Gents 1998 Gents 1999 Gents
2000 Gents 2001 Gents 2002 Gents 2003 Gents 2004 Gents
2005 Gents 2006 Gents 2007 Gents 2008 Gents 2009 Member
2010-11 Gents 2012 Member 2013 Member 2014 Gents 2015 Member
2016 Member 2017 Member 2018 Member 2019 Member 2020 Member

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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