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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 20th July 1808
Final meeting: Friday 15th May 1835

The earliest indications of a race meeting taking place in the vicinity of Maghull, near the Aintree district of Liverpool, was in 1808, possibly making use of Ormskirk racecourse. At this time the course had the backing of Sefton Corporation, and the principal race was the Royalty Gold Cup. The two day meeting was staged on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st July 1808, opening with a 2 mile Sweepstake which was won by Mr Benson’s Dimple. The next day the Royalty Gold Cup over 4 miles saw The Duke of Hamilton’s Peter Little overcome Sir W Gerard’s Julius Caesar. However, the meeting ceased in 1815, as did a number of local meetings in that same year. By 1827 a local farmer John Formby, joint owner with his wife Helen of Maghull Hall and its estate, re-established racing at Maghull, albeit Flat racing, on a very marshy area of his Old Racecourse Farm off the Sefton Road. The inaugural three day meeting started well on Wednesday 25th July 1827, but the next day there was torrential rain overnight and all the next day, turning the ground back into a marsh. The massive crowd had almost nowhere to shelter, save a grandstand leased by William Lynn for the occasion. The racing suffered from the state of the ground and the local Racing Committee implored Formby to improve the state of the course or risk it being superseded by a course just down the road at Aintree. By 1828 discussions had come to a head, Formby pressing ahead with his development of Maghull, while Lord Sefton and his powerful friends choosing to develop Aintree in direct competition against him. At the three day meeting from Wednesday 23rd to Friday 25th July 1828 the first two days went well, but then incessant rain returned on the final day, bringing with it marshy ground and further problems for John Formby. The first race meeting to take place at Aintree was on Tuesday 7th July 1829, although at this stage it was for Flat racing only. Despite his many problems at Maghull, Formby continued to stage meetings each May, although they clashed with Chester, while Aintree continued with their summer meetings. The final Maghull meeting was in May 1835, after which William Lynn purchased the rights for the meeting, and subsequent May meetings were transferred to Aintree. The three day May meeting began on Wednesday 13th May 1835, opening with the Formby Stakes which was won by Sir J Boswell’s Masetto. On Thursday 14th May the Maghull Stakes for 2 year olds went to Mr Mostyn’s Tom Shipman, while The Stand Cup, sponsored for 100 sovereigns by the ‘late Maghull Committee’ was won by Catherina for Mr Barrow. It is not clear whether any or all of this meeting was staged at Maghull, and it is more likely to have taken place at Aintree.
This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

John Formby, Sir J Boswell, Sir T Stanley, Mr Mostyn

Principal Races Royalty First Corporation Cup, Maghull Chase, Grand Liverpool Steeplechase

Wednesday 16th May 1832

Liverpool Spring Meeting
Liverpool Derby stakes over a mile and a distance
20 sovereigns each with 30 added
1. Chester owned by Mr Beardsworth
2. Sensitive owned by Mr Yates
1/3 fav Chester

Liverpool Tradesmen’s Cup
Twice round and a distance
1. Birmingham owned by Mr Beardsworth
2. Her Highness owned by Mr Mostyn
3. Perseverance owned by Mr Chapman
4. Unnamed horse by Walton owned by Mr Nowell
4/6 Birmingham 3/1 Her Highness 6/1 Tetotum

Thursday 17th May 1832

The Produce Stakes over 1 ½ miles
1. Mahbooba owned by Mr Leigh (walked over)

The Maghull Stakes over 6 furlongs
1. Abel owned by Mr L Charlton
2. Unnamed filly by Sligo owned by Lord Lichfield

The Liverpool Spring St Leger Stakes over 1 ¾ miles
1. Ludlow owned by Mr Beardsworth
2. Unnamed filly by Teniers owned by Mr Mostyn
3. The Physician owned by Mr Skipsey
4. The Grand Falconer owned by Sir G Pigot
5/4 Ludlow 3/1 The Physician 4/1 The Mostyn Filly

The Everton Plate twice round
1. Revolution owned by Mr Shepherd
2. Russell owned by Mr Painter
3. Tetotum owned by Mr Ferguson
4. Warwick owned by Mr Beardsworth
Evens Revolution 2/1 Russell

Friday 18th May 1832

The Kirkdale Stakes over once round and the distance
1. Kitty Fisher owned by Mr Nanney
2. Whittingham owned by Mr Hope
2 to 1 On Whittington

The Stand Cup over twice round and the distance
1. Colwick owned by Mr Beardsworth
2. Her Highness owned by Mr Mostyn
3. Sir John owned by Mr Bower
1/5 Colwick 2/1 Placings on any other horse

The Great Liverpool Stakes over twice round
1. Tommy Tickle owned by Mr Jones
2. The Admiral owned by Mr Hobson

The Ormskirk Plate (twice round)
1. Pickpocket owned by Sir R W Bulkeley
2. Lawrie Todd owned by Sir T Stanley
3. Unnamed horse by Walton owned by Mr Nowell

Aintree or Maghull?
(i) For the next 6 years the two courses were in direct competition. Maghull held their meeting in May, but had to compete with the well-established, popular meeting just down the road at Chester.
(ii) Aintree held their meeting in July and had no meetings locally to rival them.
(iii) The boggy ground at Maghull continued to cause problems, whilst the turf at the Aintree course was ideal for summer racing.
(iv) By 1835 Aintree were in the powerful position of being able to increase the number of their meetings, including holding one in October, and to vary their programme by staging hurdle races as well as Flat races. It soon became obvious that John Formby was beginning to struggle financially.

It is widely thought that Maghull Racecourse closed after its May meeting.
By February 1836 Aintree expanded its programme still further by staging its first .steeplechase. Perhaps it is ironic that the first chase was won by The Duke ridden by Captain Becher at the meeting held on Monday 29th February 1836

The Waterloo Hotel in Liverpool was run by William Lynn who had initially supported the development of Aintree racecourse, but decided in 1837 to support John Formby instead, and the steeplechase races were reported to have been switched back to Maghull.  Given that the course had closed in 1835, could they have been held on the Aintree course but advertised as Maghull Races? The principal race was the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase which was won by The Duke, but his jockey was Henry Potts rather than Captain Becher who had ridden at St Albans the previous day and was unable to take up his ride.

The Chase was again held under the name of Maghull in 1838 when won by Sir William ridden by Allen McDonough, although the records mistakenly record the winner as Sir Henry despite no horse of that name being entered for the race. In a cruel twist of fate for John Formby, his supporter William Lynn suffered a health setback and was no longer in a position to back him.  Lynn had been a tremendously influential person in the development of the Grand National, but had also instigated the Waterloo Coursing Cup back in the 1820’s.

By 1839, and without Lynn’s support, the Steeplechase reverted back to being known as an Aintree race and the rest is history!

The final meeting took place on Friday 15th May 1835.
Course today

Close to Maghull Hall a few miles north of Aintree. The site of the old Maghull Racecourse is now taken over by the Meadows Hotel on Old Racecourse Road.

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.
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