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Earliest meeting: Saturday 26th August 1725
Final meeting: Tuesday 7th October 1890
The county Laois town of Maryborough, established by an act of Parliament in 1557 during the reign of Queen Mary, developed around a fort and settlement known as Port Laoise, later in 1920 being renamed Portlaoise. One of the earliest records of racing near Maryborough was from the Dublin Gazette, Wednesday 18 August 1725 - "These are to give Notice, that there will be a Ten Pound Plate run on the Great Heath near Maryborough on the last Thursday in August next, by any Horse, Mare or Gelding that never run upon the Curragh of Kildare. The Horse is to be shewed (sic), and entered the Day sen'night before the race, at Mr George Cossins at Ballymaddock, where the articles may be seen at large, which tells several other Matches to be run the Day following." Maryborough staged race meeetings at various times throughout the 19th century on the Heath, although many of the meetings between Monday 8th July 1839 and Wednesday 27th July 1870 were billed as Heath Races and took place on an oval mile and three quarters course near Heath House, located just three miles from Maryborough railway station. However, races had taken place prior to these dates; indeed it is believed that chariot races were held on the Heath in ancient times. In 1812, in a bid to ease the fixture congestion that was causing all courses a problem, the Irish Turf Club assigned days or weeks to particular courses, with Maryborough assigned the third week in September. Meetings were often heated affairs leading one local resident to request military reinforcements in July 1857 because a riot was expected. After the period of ‘Heath races’ in 1870 meetings lapsed but were revived on St Stephen’s day 1878 when the event was deemed to be successful despite a clash with Cork Races. At the meeting on Thursday 27th October 1887 the Maryborough Plate saw Lakefield defeat Erin’s Star and Heather Ball, winning a Silver Cup which was filled with Guinness. The final meeting was held on Tuesday 7th October 1890 when the feature Heath Plate, over 6 furlongs, was won by the 4/6 favourite Arbitress, although the card also included the Maryborough Stakes and a pony race.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Earl of Portarlington, Lord Waterford, Captain Williams, Mr E Smithwick, Mr Costello
Principal Races The Heath Plate, Ballymanus Stakes, Queen's County Stakes, Scurry Corinthian Handicap

Tuesday 7th & Wednesday 8th August 1866

The Ballymanus Stakes over 6 furlongs
1. Red Wine owned by Captain Williams
2. Exile of Erin owned by Mr Clarke
3. Kenilworth owned by Mr St George

The Queen’s County Stakes over 1 ¾ miles
1. Russian Bee owned by Mr Dunne
2. Belzoni owned by Mr Clayton
3. Claret Cup owned by Mr Knox

The Scurry Corinthian Handicap over a mile
1. Elastic owned by Mr Newcomen
2. Joss Stick owned by Mr Hardinge
3. Claret Cup owned by Mr Knox

Tuesday 7th October 1890

The Heath Plate over 6 furlongs
1. Arbitress owned by Mr E Smithwick
2. Rosemary owned by Mr Costello
3. Wise Chief owned by Mr Gow
The winner was the 4/6 fav with the second at 2/1.

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 7th October 1890
Course today A mile and three quarters racecourse near the grounds of Heath House.
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

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