LONDONDERRY RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: September 1777
Final meeting: Friday 5th May 1905
The Irish racecourse at the town of Derry (Londonderry) served the second largest town of Northern Ireland from the late 18th century. The town itself is walled and stands on the River Foyle, and while there is evidence of racing before the 1770s, the so called ‘Father of the Irish Turf Club’ Thomas Conolly sponsored the first Gold Cup race run on the New Londonderry course in September 1777. By 1779 he had introduced a Silver Cup and within a year the first running of the King’s Plate took place. The third running of the Kings Plate was on Tuesday 25th June 1782 when Mr Eccles Grattan got the better of Lalage. In 1812, in a bid to ease the fixture congestion that was causing all Irish courses a problem, the Irish Turf Club assigned days or weeks to particular courses; Londonderry was assigned the second Monday in July which was deemed to be a good draw. During the 1830s the racecourse, like the majority of courses in the country, struggled as a consequence of the great famine and racing lapsed in 1836. Racing returned in the spring of 1859 and by 1861 Londonderry was hosting a Royal Plate race again. The course was at its strongest during this period, securing good races with strong fields supported by a loyal crowd. This period of strength lasted until 1876, after which fields depleted, the quality of races declined and crowds decreased. By the end of the 1870s the course had lost its Royal Plate again and it was on a downward spiral of decline. The final meeting took place on Friday 5th May 1905.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Donegall, Sir G Hill, Thomas Conolly
Principal Races King's Plate, Irish Society Plate, The Racing Stakes

Monday 2nd August 1824
King’s Plate for 100 Guineas over 3 miles
1. Friday owned by Lord Donegall
2. Irishman owned by Mr Battersby
3. Lady Jay owned by Sir G Hill

The final meeting took place on Friday 5th May 1905.
Course today At the Ballyarnett 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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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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