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Earliest meeting: Thursday 4th June 1719
Final meeting: Tuesday 18th October 1977
There is every indication that a race meeting of some kind took place in Lanark as early as 1170, and with it a prize of a Silver Bell instituted by King William the Lion of Scotland. Records from 1661 imply that the Silver Bell was contested on the third Tuesday in May. There is no indication that the race was still taking place in 1661, indeed the earliest record of a Silver Bell actually being contested was on Thursday 4th June 1719, although it is uncertain whether it actually took place in Lanark. The first occasion results are provided in a racing Calendar was from the two day meeting on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th September 1785. The meeting opened with a 50 Guineas Purse which saw the Duke of Hamilton’s Milfield walk over, while the next day a similar Purse was won by the Duke’s Disguise beating Mr Thompson’s Sobersides. Meetings continued at irregular intervals throughout the 19th century, although the management was not as tight and effective as at other Scottish courses. In 1870 the racing authorities introduced a rule stating no races were to be run for a prize of less than £50, but at the two day meeting held on Thursday 25th and Friday 26th September 1873, whilst the Silver Bell Handicap was worth £60 to the winner, the Lee castle Stakes was only worth £35, the Jerviswoode Cup £28 and the Douglas Stakes £30. The first recorded meeting on the New course, about a mile and a half from Lanark, with Edinburgh to the North and Ayr to the South, was in 1909. That course was described as an oval of some 1 mile 140 yards with a gradual rise to the finish, but when it rained it became treacherous. It was possible to start the 5 furlong races on the straight course, while 6 furlong races had to be started on the round course. Racing ceased between 1914 and 1919 owing to the War, and ceased again in 1939 before returning for a popular meeting on Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th September 1945. In 1967, feeling confident about the future, a new stable block was built, but in the end this proved to be part of its undoing. Crowds decreased and the financial burden of paying for the stable block became too much. The final meeting took place on Tuesday 18th October 1977, after which the Levy Board decline to support the course with any further money.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 3 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Duke of Montrose
Principal Races Lanark Silver Bell, Wishaw Handicap, Carmichael Plate

Tuesday 26th & Wednesday 27th September 1899

The Wishaw Handicap over 6 furlongs
1. Theano owned by Mr W Crosbie
2. Viburnum owned by Mr G Maclachlan
3. Millman owned by Mr A E McKinlay

The Carmichael Plate over 5 furlongs
1. Viburnum owned by Mr G Maclachlan
2. Busby Stoop owned by Mr A Martin
3. Hedge Warbler owned by Mr G Maclachlan

Lanark Silver Bell Handicap over a mile and a half
1. Tyna owned by Mr W Sanderson
2. Horizon owned by Mr Alan Johnstone
3. Dowf owned by the Duke of Montrose

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

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 18th October 1977.
Course today

The course is still in place, and in the past 10 years there have been negotiations to try to re-introduce racing.

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

1932 1952 1953 1954
1955 1956 1957 1958
1959 1960 1961 1962
1963 1967 1968 1968
1969 1971 1973 1974
1975 1977 1977  

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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