IRVINE RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Thursday 28th July 1636
Final meeting: Tuesday 14th June 1808
Irvine is on the coast of the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire and there is evidence of a race meeting taking place on Irvine Town Moor as early as Thursday 28th July 1636. The meeting became known as the Irvine Marymass meeting which was run on Eglinton Park and lays claim to being the oldest race meeting held in Scotland. However, it took a further 200 years before the Eglinton Park Race Club was formed in 1836. Therefore races in the vicinity of Irvine fall into 3 sections; those prior to 1808; those after 1808 at Bogside, and those from 1836 which were specifically held on Eglinton Park. For the purposes of classification the final meeting at Irvine, and the first at Bogside, was staged on Tuesday 14th June 1808 when the principal Town Plate over 3 miles was won by Mr Bates’ Honest Harry. The Irvine Marymass meeting involving thoroughbreds continued well into the middle of the 19th century, being part of the fabric of burgh society. However, by the 1860s the meeting developed into an excuse to get drunk and become rowdy, causing local people to resent it. Furthermore, the Temperance Society felt drunkenness had got to such a state that they could no longer stand idly by. They created placards showing the effects of excessive alcohol on the body as well as the mind, and by 1867 they were winning their case. Although the Marymass festival and races continue to this day on the Saturday following the third Monday in August, the race now attracts heavy horses, donkeys and ponies rather than thoroughbreds.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 3 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Kelburne, Mr Baird, Earl of Eglinton, Sir A Ramsey
Principal Races Irvine Stakes, Stewards Plate

Tuesday 14th June 1808
The Irvine Town Plate over 3 miles
1. Honest Harry, 5 year old owned by Mr Bates
2. Sir Charles, 4 year old owned by Lord Montgomerie
3. Petera, 4 year old owned by Mr Henderson

Wednesday 12th May 1824

The Irvine Stakes over 2 miles
1. Caledonian owned by Lord Kelburne
2. The Pirate owned by Mr Baird
3. La Grisette owned by Mr Alexander

The Irvine Stewards Plate over 2 miles
1. The Pirate 4 year old owned by Lord Kelburne
2. The Pirate 5 year old owned by Mr Baird

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

The final meeting took place on 10th April 1965 (Bogside)
Course today Initially on Irvine Moor and then Eglington Park.
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:-

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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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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