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Earliest meeting: October 1803
Final meeting: Tuesday 9th August 1870
The busy Staffordshire market town of Leek, on the River Churnet, lies 10 miles north-east of the city of Stoke on Trent and first held races in 1803. The ‘County History of Staffordshire’ records that racing took place on Leek Moor in October 1803. However, by 1834 the meetings had moved from the Moor and were being staged at the Birchall Dale Course. In 1841 races billed as North Staffordshire were being held on Highfield Park in Leek, when the meeting was deemed to be sufficiently important for results to be included in Baily's Racing Register. Although races continued at Birchall Dale, the two day meeting on Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th August 1867 returned to Highfield Park where the Highfield Stakes was won by Mr Windsor’s Nuneaton. This venue was used for a further three years until the final card under rules took place on Tuesday 9th August 1870. Races outside of rules were still being held at the Birchall Dale course in 1883, although the two day meeting on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th August 1883, organised by the North Staffordshire Flat and Hurdles Committee, included pony and half-bred races..

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Mr Taylor, Mr Frost, Mr Bennett
Principal Races Moorland Stakes, Churnet Valley Stakes, Leek Hurdle

Monday 18th to Tuesday 19th October 1841

The Leek Sweepstake over 3 miles and the distance
1. Rebecca owned by Mr Taylor
2. Oxton owned by Mr Frost
Co3.untry Lass owned by Mr Bates
4.Fraility owned by Mr Moss
5.Frank owned by Mr Langley
6. Unnamed mare by Tramp owned by Mr Hind

The Leek Hurdle over 2 miles
1. Woodbine owned by Mr Bennett

The Moorland Stakes over 2 miles
1. Catherina owned by Mr Barrow
2. Comical John owned by Mr Walmsley
3. Oxton owned by Mr Frost
4. Talebearer owned by Mr Johnson

The Leek Handicap Sweepstake over 2 miles
1. Frank owned by Mr Langley
2. Oxton owned by Mr Frost
3. Country Lass owned by Mr Bates
4. Talebearer owned by Mr Johnson

 I am grateful to Stephen McCurrie for the scan of the very rare poster advertising races at the Birchall Dale Course on the outskirts of Leek. It was a two day meeting on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th of August 1883, and was organised by the North Staffordshire Flat and Hurdles Committee.
The races on the first day were;
The Moorland Stakes - For ponies not exceeding 14 hands 2 inches high
The Churnet Valley Stakes - For horses of every description
The Licensed Victualler's Purse - For Half-bred Horses
The Birchall Stakes - For ponies not exceeding 14 hands
The North Staffordshire Hunt Hurdle Race - For horses of any description.
The races on the second day were;
The Ladies' Purse Handicap - For ponies not exceeding 14 hands 2 inches high
The Tally Ho! Handicap - For Half-bred Horses
The North Staffordshire Handicap - For horses of every description
The Wall Grange Handicap - For ponies not exceeding 14 hands
The Tradesmen's Handicap Hurdle Race - For horses of every description.
Racing at a range of venues throughout North Staffs continued, certainly from 1878 to the date shown on the racing poster shown above.
The final meeting took place on Tuesday 7th August 1883.
Course today Initially on Leek Moor and then on the Birchall Dale course.
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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