HIPPODROME RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Saturday 3rd June 1837
Final meeting: Friday 4th June 1841

James Whyte’s History of the British Turf notes that the Hippodrome Racecourse in Bayswater, Notting Hill was opened for the first time on Saturday 3rd June 1837 by its founder John Whyte. John Whyte was a local entrepreneur who leased 200 acres of land in Notting Hill and started to enclose the slopes and meadows with 7 feet high fencing before developing his ‘Hippodrome’ racecourse. He published a prospectus for his new park, stating ‘An extensive range of land, in a secluded situation, has been taken and thrown into one great park, and is being fenced in all around by a strong, close, high paling. This park affords the facilities of a steeplechase course, intersected by banks and every description of fence; and also a racecourse distinct from the steeplechase course; and each capable of being suited to a four mile race for horses of the first class.’ As a result of enclosing it, John Whyte was able to ensure that only paying customers could attend, and charged the following rates, 4 wheeled carriage 5 shillings; 2 wheeled carriage 3 shillings; person on horseback 2 and 6; person on foot 1 shilling. The Sporting Magazine was clearly impressed with the new course and its facilities, its correspondent wrote ‘I could hardly credit what I saw. Here was, almost at our doors, a racing emporium more extensive and attractive than Ascot or Epsom, with ten times the accommodation of either, and where the carriages are charged for admission at three quarters’ less’.  It did not meet with immediate success by the locals because local tradesmen ran their businesses on the footpath which went through the course.  Indeed, there were protests throughout the period the course operated. Also, inspite of being enclosed, this did not prevent unsavoury characters from breaking in. At the inaugural meeting the Hippodrome Plate, over 2 miles, Mr Wickham’s Pincher beat Reuben, while the 50 Sovereigns Plate went to Mr Elmore’s Lottery who, just two years later, won the inaugural running of the Grand National. A two day meeting was scheduled for Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th June 1837 and opened with the Hippodrome Sweepstake which saw Mr W Smith’s Oakleaf beat the strongly fancied Mozart owned by Lord Chesterfield. However, the second day was postponed because of the death of His Majesty King William IV. In 1839 one meeting was attended by the Grand Duke of Russia, and it was at about this time that Charles Dickens had a house close to the racecourse and may well have attended. Although there were many positives, particularly from racing folk, the locals never did accept that their footpath was blocked off and they fought tooth and nail to get it reinstated. For all of the hype of the wonderful racecourse, the final meeting took place on Friday 4th June 1841. After hosting just 13 meetings in the five years it was open, John Whyte relinquished his lease and gave up on his dream racecourse.
This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons John Whyte, Lord Chesterfield, Captain Lamb, Mr Elmore
Principal Races Hippodrome Plate, Hippodrome Sweepstakes

Saturday 3rd June 1837

Hippodrome Plate over 2 miles
1. Pincher owned by Mr Wickham
2. Reuben owned by Mr Shelley
3. Ethilda owned by Mr Gardnor

Hippodrome 50 Sovereigns Plate over 2 miles
1. Lottery owned by Mr Elmore
2. Lady Teazle owned by Captain Lamb
3. Cinderella owned by Mr Jackson
Just 2 years later Lottery won the inaugural running of the Aintree Grand National

Monday 19th June 1837

Hippodrome Sweepstakes over 1 mile
1. Oakleaf owned by Mr W Smith
2. Mozart owned by Lord Chesterfield
3. Ote owned by Mr Knight
This was meant to be a two day meeting, but the meeting on Tuesday was postponed because of the death of His Majesty King William IV

The final meeting took place on Friday 4th June 1841
Course today On the Hippodrome in Bayswater.
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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