ISLE OF WIGHT RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 9th June 1812
Final meeting: Monday 9th June 1930
There is no doubt that racing took place on the Isle of Wight a good while before results began being posted in the newspapers, but one of the earliest two day meetings when results were made known took place on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th June 1812 on Park Green. It was over 30 years later that the Sporting Calendar included results in its publication in 1843 when a Garrison meeting took place on the Ashey course at Newport. Three years later a two day meeting was staged on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th July 1846 when The Rector won the Maiden Plate for Mr J Bull. The Garrison Stakes went to Mr Dockeray’s Lady Charlotte, while the prestigious Isle of Wight Cup was secured by Mr Horlock’s Queen of the Gipsies.  The Isle of Wight Foxhounds Association was formed in 1845 initially with the aim of establishing foxhunting, but also with a long term aim to promote National Hunt racing on the island. The chosen course was situated on Bowcombe Downs, near to the town of Carisbrooke, with the first meeting of both Flat and Hurdle races taking place on Wednesday 15th August 1860. The final Flat races were held on 8th August 1862, but National Hunt racing continued; although by the mid 1870s the racecourse was at Gatcombe. This course was not ideal because it was only accessible from Champion Farm or Gatcombe Mill and, as a consequence, the course only hosted meetings in April 1873 and April 1874. Racing then switched yet again to Appleford and lasted there between 1875 and 1881. Some gentlemen on the Island had formed the Castle Club to further steeplechasing on a course on Mr Hambrough’s Estate at Rew Down. This also ceased on 26th April 1881 when the Club transferred their allegiance to Ashey, which had the benefit of nearby Ashey Railway Station. Racing continued under the Club’s jurisdiction until the meeting on 26th April 1900, whence control was taken over by the Isle of Wight Hunt Committee. Racing ceased in 1913 due to the outbreak of War, but returned in 1920 and continued until the final meeting held on Whit Monday 9th June 1930.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Mr J Bull, Mr Dockeray, Mr Hambrough
Principal Races Isle of Wight Cup, Garrison Stakes, Isle of Wight Open Hunters’ Stakes, Ashey Hurdle

Thursday 16th & Friday 17th July 1846

The Isle of Wight Maiden Plate over a mile
1. The Rector owned by Mr J Bull

The Garrison Stakes over 2 miles
1. Lady Charlotte owned by Mr Dockeray
2. Auld Lang Syne owned by Mr Cook
3. Beggar Girl owned by Mr Drew

The Isle of Wight Cup over 2 miles
1. Queen of the Gipsies owned by Mr Horlock

Course today

Little evidence remains of the old course at Ashey, as it is now used as farmland, but the old water jump can still be made out.

I am grateful to Nick Redman for the rare Isle of Wight Ticket shown below.

The front cover/ principal races from this rare racecard are provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.

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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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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