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Earliest meeting: Monday 6th September 1773
Final meeting: Saturday 18th July 1778
The first evidence of Flat racing taking place on the Hertfordshire area of common land known as Lilly-Hoo was in 1773 when a 3 day meeting was held in September. The meeting was deemed to be sufficiently important to be included in Baily’s Racing Register, which reported that the opening Sir B Rawling Purse went to Mr H Vernon’s Minister, while the Lilly Hoo Stakes over 2 miles was won by Lord Hamilton’s Stripling at the expense of Grace and Snip. The later 4 mile Sweepstake saw Lord Ossory’s Chalkstone beat Don Carlos. However, it is clear that racing had taken place prior to 1773, because the 1769 tithe map shown below indicates a grass racecourse complete with start, hurdles, Brogsdell's Corner and Sallow Corner. It is uncertain whether these were formal races to which the public were admitted, private races organised by a gentlemens club, or the course was used preominantly as a training ground for preparing horses for more important races run at Newmarket. In August 1774 Sir Charles Bunbury won the Stewards Stakes with Wolsey, and the next year the same combination captured the Purse. The meeting lasted for just 4 more years before ending in 1778. The final two day meeting took place on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th July 1778, finishing with a £50 Plate won by Mr Vernon’s Warwick. Racing did return to The Hoo in the middle of the 19th century, and these meetings are covered in a separate 'Hoo Racecourse' section.

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

Duke of Grafton, Lord Hamilton, Lord Ossory, Lord March, Sir Charles Bunbury, Sir B.Rawling, Sir J.Moore, Sir J.Lade, T.Brand, J.Radcliffe

Principal Races

Sir B.Rawlings 50 Pounds Purse, Lilly Hoo Stewards Stakes

I am grateful to Paul Jameison for the 1769 Lilly Hoo Tithe map shown below. It provides evidence to indicate that racing did take place on the grass racecourse, complete with hurdles, well before results were first reported in Racing Calendars or Baily's Racing Register.

Monday 6th to Wednesday 8th September 1773

Sir B.Rawling 50 pound Purse over 4 miles
1. Minister owned by Mr H.Vernon

The Lilly Hoo 50 pound Stakes over 2 miles
1. Stripling owned by Lord S.Hamilton
2. Grace owned by Lord Ossory
3. Snip owned by Mr Beven

Lilly Hoo Sweepstakes over 4 miles
1. Chalkstone owned by Lord Ossory
2. Don Carlos owned by Mr Brand
3. Giantess owned by Sir Charles Bunbury

Tuesday 23rd to Wednesday 24th August 1774

Sir B.Rawlings 50 Pounds Purse over 4 miles
1. Pythia owned by Lord Ossory

Lilly Hoo Stewards 50 Pounds Stakes over 2 miles
1. Wolsey owned by Sir Charles Bunbury
2. Selenissa owned by Mr Brand
3. Zamora owned by Mr Adams

Tuesday 8th to Thursday 10th August 1775

Sir B.Rawlings 50 Pounds Purse over 4 miles
1. Wolsey owned by Sir Charles Bunbury
2. Slim owned by Lord March
3. Sparkler owned by Mr Dymock

Lilly Hoo Stewards 50 Pounds Stakes over 2 miles
1. Revenge owned by Mr Vernon
2. May-Fly owned by Mr Brand
3. Ebrio owned by Mr Castle

Monday 12th to Wednesday 14th August 1776

T.Brand and J.Radcliffe 50 Pounds Purse over 2 miles
1. Union owned by Mr Dymock
2. Persicarius owned by Mr Bloss
3. Harlequin owned by Mr Delme

Thursday 17th to Saturday 19th July 1777

Lilly Hoo Subscription Plate over 4 miles
1. Mentor owned by Sir Charles Bunbury
2. Falstaff owned by Lord Ossory
3. Caprice owned by Mr Brand

Friday 17th to Saturday 18th July 1778

Lilly Hoo Subscription Plate over 4 miles
1. Pastorella owned by Mr Vernon
2. Tasso owned by Mr Walker
3. Unnamed colt by The Sportsman owned by Sir Charles Bunbury

Lilly Hoo 50 Pound Plate over 2 miles
1. Warwick owned by Mr Vernon
2. Tasso owned by Mr Walker
3. Blunderbuss owned by The Duke of Grafton

The final meeting took place on Saturday 18th July 1778, although racing did return to the area in the middle of the 19th century and is covered as The Hoo racecourse on this site.
Course today

I am grateful to Anne Rowe for the photos of the land on which the Lilley Hoo racecourse once stood. The common is long since disappeared, but the first photo shown below is taken from Telegraph Hill at the north end of the Hoo looking south-east. The pylons cross the Hoo at its mid-point. The second photo is half way along the Hoo, just south of the pylons.

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

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
Download an order form
  Quantity Cost
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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