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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 22nd August 1804
Final meeting: Wednesday 14th April 1858
The Berkshire village of Ilsley, now associated with a number of famous racing stables in both East and West Ilsley, including Mick Channon and Hughie Morrison, once had its own racecourse which operated for a prolonged period from 1804 through to 1858. It held its first meeting on Wednesday 22nd August 1804 with the feature being the Gentlemen’s and Noblemen’s Subscription won by Virgin. It was to be another 45 years before it held its next meeting. Throughout the 3 year period from 1849 to 1852 there were regular meetings, but they ceased at the end of 1852 after a meeting entitled the Ilsley Aristocratic Races was organised by the Gentlemen students of Oxford and held on Ilsley Downs. The Ilsley Cup was the principal race and went to Major Slingsby’s Lady Beatrice who defeated Lord Scamperdale’s Princess. Four years later the meeting was revived and from 1856 through to 1858 regular meetings continued. The final meeting was held on Wednesday 14th April 1858.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Coventry, Sir Lyiston Newman
Principal Races Ilsley Stewards’ Plate, Ridgeway Stakes

Wednesday 22nd August 1804
Gentlemen & Noblemen’s Subscription over 1 ½ miles
1. Virgin, black filly owned by Mr Abbey
2. Loto, bay horse owned by Mr B Price
3. Elfi Bey, brown horse owned by Mr Spragg

The final meeting took place on Wednesday 14th April 1858.
Course today On Ilsley Downs.
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

East Ilsley continues to play a significant part in horse racing today via Hughie Morrison. The photo below shows the very successful open day in 2013. For further details on this highly successful training establishment visit

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 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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  Quantity Cost
Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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