KIPLINGCOTES RACECOURSE

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Earliest recorded meeting: Thursday 28th February 1555
Final meeting: Annual race still contested
Although Kiplingcotes is not a racecourse today in the conventional sense, it does host a unique event each year on a picturesque course in the Yorkshire Wolds. The Kiplingcotes Derby claims to be the oldest continuously run race in the English racing calendar. It may well have been contested as early as 1519, although the earliest record of it taking place was in 1555. A certain Thomas Carter of Helperthorpe, a lowly herdsman, was giving evidence in court and claimed to have witnessed the race run at Kiplingcotes Ashe on Shrovetide 1555. Given that Easter for that year was on Sunday 14th April, and that the race has traditionally taken place on a Thursday, Shrove Thursday would have been on 28th February 1555. In the early part of the 16th century hunting gentlemen from the parish donated £355 for a Plate and a cash prize, free from an Act of Parliament, to be given to the winner of the Kiplingcotes Plate. Although the race was open to all horses, invariably the race was won by a thoroughbred. In later years this became a problem because any horse or rider taking part in the event was disqualified from entering any future race run under Jockey Club rules. Fortunately in 1985 the Jockey Club relented and made the Kiplingcotes Derby a unique exception to this rule. The actual racecourse at Kiplingcotes held its final meeting on 19th March 1789, but the Derby is still contested each year over a 4 mile course, starting near to the former Kiplingcotes railway station and finishing at Londesborough Wold Farm.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Earl of Burlington, Lord Dunbar, Lord Bellas, Lord Langdale, Lord Charles Clifford

Principal Races Kiplingcotes Derby, Annual Plate

Baily’s Racing Register first provided detailed results from races held at Kiplingcotes in 1728. The meeting was held in March and resulted in Miss Neesham, owned by Mr Brewster, defeating 6 others to win the 16 Guineas Plate.

The Racing Calendar of 1751 was undertaken by Reginald Heber following the death of John Cheney who had initiated the project many years earlier. He records that Kipling Coates races took place on 21st March 1751, and the result is shown below. He further reports that the race was founded by a Body of Foxhunters, who appointed it to be run on the Third Thursday of March. Surprising therefore that this was contested on a Sunday.

Sunday 21st March 1751

Annual Kipling Coates Prize of 16 Guineas
1. Chocolate owned by Mr Reed
2. Hackney owned by Mr Watson
3. Merry Harrier owned by Mr Wilks
4. Dunkirk owned by Mr Witty

21st March 1782

Kiplingcotes Annual Plate over 4 miles
1. Nassau owned by Mr Aclome
2. Unnamed mare by Elephant owned by Mr Artley
3. Young Scrub owned by Mr Archdale

The final meeting took place on 19th March 1789
Course today

Near Market Weighton, between the former Kiplingcotes Station and Londesborough Wold Farm.

For a comprehensive history of the Kiplingcotes Derby CLICK HERE
The Kiplingcotes Derby continues to be contested annually and an excellent book, The Kiplingcotes Derby by Alison Ellerington, ISBN 0 948929 32 4 is warmly recommended.
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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