HOOTON PARK RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Monday 22nd May 1899
Final meeting: Saturday 17th April 1915
The Hooton Park Racecourse was situated almost midway between Liverpool and Chester, being approximately 10 miles from each. Although the most prolonged period of racing began in 1899, there is evidence that meetings had been staged much earlier. Sir Thomas Massey Stanley, who owned the Hooton Hall estate in the early 19th century, was a frequent visitor to nearby Aintree and entertained guests at his Hall prior to making the short journey to Liverpool. Within his estate was a training ground, where his hunters and steeplechasers were prepared, and this was used to host private race meetings for his guests. On 1st March 1843 the Liverpool Mercury wrote ‘large parties of sporting noblemen and gentlemen were assembled in Liverpool and at the seat of Sir W Stanley where the Hooton Grand Steeplechase formed an additional attraction’. The Grand National in 1843 was won by Lord Chesterfield’s Vanguard. A steeplechase meeting was held at Hooton on 6th March 1846 when William Lynn, of the Waterloo Hotel Aintree, acted as judge. By 1849 Sir Stanley was declared bankrupt and sold Hooton Hall and its estate to Richard Naylor who had inherited a fortune from his uncle. He developed his own stud farm and racing stables on the estate; one of his many winners included Marconi, winner of the 2000 Guineas and Derby in 1863. At the very end of the 19th century a prolonged period of racing began on what Bayles described as ‘no more charming spot on the broad acres of this country, or any place, with better appointments for its purpose (racing)’. The inaugural National Hunt meeting took place on Whit Monday 22nd May 1899 on a course stretching 1 mile 5 furlongs and 62 yards. It was usual for five days racing annually which were always popular and well supported. The meeting on Saturday 11th November 1899 opened with the Cheshire Steeplechase Plate which saw Sir Peter Walker’s Slingsby defeat Golden Drake II, while the later Rock Ferry Hurdle was won by Merry Love for Mr H Walker. In 1904 the Great Cheshire Chase was won by St Moritz from Kirkland, but it was the latter who went on to greater achievements in 1905 when winning the Grand National. Tragedy visited Hooton Park on Monday 7th August 1911 when Longeneh fell at a hurdle in a lowly Selling Hurdle and his jockey Paddy Cowley died from his head injuries. In 1914, the busiest year for the racecourse, the principal race was the Hooton Park Hurdle, but the War then intervened. The final meeting was staged on Saturday 17th April 1915, after which the racecourse was used as an army camp and later an airfield. Although racing did not resume after the War had ended, a bizarre race was held in 1930 when 8 riders, all in white nightshirts, contested a race starting at midnight. The event, witnessed by a crowd in excess of 20,000, formed part of the 325th anniversary of the gunpowder plot.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Sir T Stanley, Richard Naylor
Principal Races

Hooton Park Hurdle; Great Cheshire Chase

Saturday 11th November 1899
Rock Ferry Hurdle over 2 miles
1. Merry Love, 4 year old owned by Mr H Walker
2. Good Day, 3 year old owned by Mr T Bates
3. Spiddal, 3 year old owned by Mr R Mainwaring
Betting: 6/4 Green Tea, 3/1 Good Day, 4/1 Merry Love

The 1914 meetings were abandoned due to the War, and the course was closed in 1915 and used as an Army Camp.

I am delighted to be able to provide below a link to a well-researched, excellently written article by David Allan

HOOTON PARK

For access to the worthwhile Hooton Park Trust use the link www.hootonparktrust.co.uk

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

The final meeting took place on Saturday 17th April 1915.
Course today

At Hooton, just under two miles from the railway station. No evidence of the previous existence of a racecourse and the Vauxhall Motor car factory now stands on the site.

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

1899 1899 1900 1902
1903 1904 1904 1905
1905 1906 1907 1909
1910 1911 1912 1912
1913 1914 1915 Gents 1915 Ladies

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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