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Earliest meeting: Thursday 29th April 1886
Final meeting: Thursday 29th April 1886
Whilst it is known that racing took place at Chelmsford in Essex in the mid 1700s, the first occasion that races were organised by the Essex Hunt Committee was in 1808 when the Chelmsford racecourse at Galleywood was used as the venue. This arrangement lasted for 4 years before there was a considerable lapse in the Essex Hunts meetings. The Essex Hunt Committee was then reinvigorated to organise further race meetings in 1876 when a new venue at Rundells was chosen on land owned by James Scruby. That inaugural meeting was held on 28th March 1876. Further meetings followed on 5th March 1878 and 21st April 1881, although it had been planned to hold the meeting every two years. The meeting was at Rundells for a further 5 year period from 1882 to 1886, and during this period the meeting was known as the ‘Essex Hunt Club Private Steeplechases’. The idea of holding a private meeting was to try to ensure that the less desirable attendees of racing were excluded, but they still persisted in gaining access and by 1897 Essex Hunt held their final meeting at Rundells.
Essex Hunt meetings were nomadic having also held races at Thaxted, Standon and Great Easton, but in 1886 the meeting was held at High Easter, Great Hassells. The village of High Easter was known in Norman times as High Estra, and is situated a short distance from Chelmsford. It is in the civil parish of Uttlesford and lies on the River Can. The meeting took place on Thursday 29th April 1886, although there is some uncertainty whether the whole meeting was staged at Rundells, High Easter or both. Typically the card contained steeplechases and point to point races, with each staged on different courses. It may well have been the case that in 1886 the steeplechases were at Rundells, but the point to point course encompassed High Easter. What is not disputed is that High Easter now holds very successful point to point meetings.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Mr H Loftus-Arkwright, Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson, Mr Robert Lockwood

Principal Races

Essex Hunt Welter Cup, Essex United Hunt Cup, Essex Open Hunters Plate, Essex Farmers Plate

I am grateful to Simon Marriage, the recently retired master of the Essex Hunt which run their current Point to Point Races on his farm at High Easter. Part of the farm is the field now known as "Harsells" which is just south of the village, and which it is believed was the starting point for the races. Runners headed out over natural country towards Mashbury and Good Easter before passing near to the present day Point to Point course and crossing a substantial brook on the return to the "Harsells".
On 6th April 1893 the races at Rundells were remarkable for the presence of a horse belonging to The Prince of Wales. "Sweetwood" ridden by Loftus J W Arkwright was one of 8 starters for The Open Plate, but due to the hard ground all 8 repeatedly refused at the open ditch!

Thursday 29th April 1886
Essex Hunt Steeplechase Handicap over 2 ½ miles
1. Emily, aged mare owned by Mr Colvin
2. Krok, aged horse owned by Mr Jones
3. Landseer, aged horse owned by Mr A Wederell

The final meeting took place on Thursday 29th April 1886.
Course today

A nomadic group making use of a number of racecourses.

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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