GATWICK RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 7th October 1891
Final meeting: Saturday 15th June 1940
Much better known as an airport, the old Gatwick Racecourse was situated midway between London and Brighton and first opened for business on Wednesday 7th October 1891. The old Manor of Gatwick, and its surrounding estate, was owned by Mr John Farlow, and he sold it on 13th December 1890. The course was an oval of a mile and 7 furlongs with the slightest of inclines, and the main course joined the straight mile course with about 5 furlongs to the winning post. The Aintree Grand National was run at Gatwick on 3 occasions during the first World War. On Friday 24th March 1916 the Grand National was also called the ‘Race Course Association Steeplechase’ and saw Vermouth beat Irish Mail and Schoolmoney. The next year ‘The War National Steeplechase’ was held on Wednesday 21st March 1917 being won by Sir G Bullogh’s Ballymacad, getting the better of Chang and Ally Sloper. The final time Gatwick hosted the Grand National was on Thursday 21st March 1918 when Poethlyn was ridden to victory in the hands of E.Piggot for Mr Hugh Peel. Once War broke out in 1939 it was highly likely that the vast open space of Gatwick would be used by the military. A final two day National Hunt was staged on Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th March 1940, while the final Flat race meeting took place on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th June 1940.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord W Beresford
Principal Races The Gatwick Cup, Champagne Plate, Alexandra Handicap, The Prince's Handicap

Friday 12th May 1899

The Champagne Plate over a mile and 7 furlongs
1. Chasuble owned by Mr William Johnston
2. Spook owned by Mr D E Higham
3. Tyro owned by Mr W Blake

The Alexandra Handicap over 6 furlongs
1. Berzak owned by Lord W Beresford
2. Saint Noel owned by Mr J Tyler
3. Northern Farmer owned by Mr Horatio Bottomley

The Prince’s Handicap over 1 ½ miles
1. Lord Edward II owned by Mr H V Long
2. Jiffy II owned by Lord W Beresford
3. Morningdew owned by Mr Houldsworth

I am grateful to Bill Haylor for the scan shown below. Does anyone know when the card was produced, which house on the outskirts of Gatwick is pictured, and what the original inscriptions were on the card?

Thursday 21st March 1918
Gatwick Grand National
1. Poethlyn, owned by Mrs Hugh Peel and ridden by E.Piggot
2. Captain Dreyfus, owned by Mr F R Hunt and ridden by J Reardon
3. Ballymacad, owned by Sir G Bullough and ridden by I Anthony

The Aintree Grand National was run at Gatwick on 3 occasions during the first World War. For details of the 1916, 1917 and 1918 races click the date.
The final meeting took place on Saturday 15th June 1940.
Course today Whilst all of the old course has now been covered with Gatwick Airport, the restaurant on the airport is called the Racecourse restaurant.

The rare handbill shown below is provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.

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

The front cover/ principal races from this rare racecard are provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.

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

1892 1893 1894
1895 1896 1897 1897
1898 1899 1900
1901 1902 1903 1903
1904 1905 1905 1906
1908 1910 1910 1911
1913 1915 1915 1918
1918 1920 1921 1922
1922 1924 1925 1925
1926 1927 1928 1930
1933 1933 1934 1935
1935 1936 1939 1940
     
1938      

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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