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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 8th August 1781
Final meeting: Friday 31st August 1787
The county Down village of Killyleagh is dominated by the 12th century Killyleagh Castle which is thought to be the oldest inhabited castle in the country having been occupied since 1180. The village organised their own race meetings in the latter part of the 18th century, starting with a four day meeting from Wednesday 8th to Saturday 11th August 1781. On the opening day a three year old mile race, run in heats, was won by Mr Hamilton’s Quick-Step, while the next day Lord Clanwilliams was victorious in the 4 and 5 year old Purse with Coalheaver. The meeting was dominated by Lord Clanwilliams and Mr Hamilton who each won a further race with Filch and Leonidas respectively. A four day meeting was held the next year from Tuesday 6th to Friday 9th August when the Four Year Old Stakes was secured by Mr Kirwan’s Ormond, defeating Principle and Distiller, while later in the week a Weight for Age Handicap was won by Mr Hamilton’s Harlequin. Meetings continued annually for a further 5 years until a three day meeting was spread over five days from Monday 27th to Friday 31st August 1787. It proved to be a benefit meeting for James Cooper who won both races on the first and last day with Columbus. Although results were not included in Racing Calendars after 1787, races did continue in the village into the late 19th century. In the late 1869s and early 1870s there were Hunt meetings held on a course a mile from the village and just three miles from Crossyer, while regatta races also took place around the same period of time.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Major Kirwan, Lord Clanwilliams, Mr Hamilton
Principal Races Killyleagh Handicap, Killyleagh Three Year Old Purse

Tuesday 6th to Friday 9th August 1782

Killyleagh 4 Year Old Stakes over 2 miles
1. Ormond owned by Mr Kirwan
2. Principle owned by Mr G Hamilton
3. Distiller owned by Mr Hawthorn

Killyleagh Weight for Age Handicap over 3 miles
1. Harlequin owned by Mr Hamilton
2. Ormond owned by Mr Kirwan
3. Principle owned by Mr G Hamilton

Monday 27th August 1787
Killyleagh 4 & 5 year old Plate over 3 miles
1. Columbus, bay horse owned by Mr James Cooper
2. Kildare, grey colt owned by Mr F Savage
3. Vixen, bay filly owned by Mr P Savage

The final meeting took place on Friday 31st August 1787.
Course today On a picturesque course on the edge of the village.
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

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

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