MONMOUTH RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Thursday 8th September 1730
Final meeting: Thursday 4th May 1933

The Welsh market town of Monmouth, within two miles of the English border, is located where the Rivers Wye and Monnow meet. The town is steeped in history, being the site of the Roman fort of Blestium, and after the Norman invasion its famous Castle was built in 1067. The first record of racing taking place in the vicinity of the town was on Thursday 8th September 1730. It took place on Chippenham Meadow, on the banks of the River Wye, when the £30 Plate was won by Mr Middleton’s Infant. Racing ceased in 1777 but returned to the Chippenham course in 1810. At a two day meeting from Wednesday 6th to Thursday 7th October 1824 the Sweepstake was won by Cardinal Puff for Mr Pryse, while the Wrexham County Members Plate went to Mr Day’s Sloe. In 1836 Charity won a lowly hurdle race at the track and few would have realised that he was a future Grand National winner in the making. Indeed, the first Grand National winner Lottery won a 3 mile steeplechase at Monmouth in 1841, two years after landing the great race. However, it is more than likely that the course on which Lottery was successful was a cross-country steeplechase course rather than the usual racecourse. The main evidence for this is that the usual two day Autumn meeting, held on Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th October 1841, consisted of Flat races and one Hurdle race. The card on Tuesday 5th October opened with the Tredegar Stakes, twice round the course, in which Mr Gough’s Aimwell defeated Fat Jack and Prudence. The Hack Stakes followed which went to Mr Trotter’s Nell who got the better of Hesperus and Ploughboy. The next day the card opened with the Chippenham Stakes over 1 ½ miles, where Fat Jack gained revenge for his defeat the previous day, overcoming the challenge of bot Henley and Aimwell. The Free Handicap, twice round the course, was won in convincing style by Mr B Francis’s Victoria, at the main expense of Hesperus and Henley. Flat racing came to an end in 1876 and with it the closure of the Chippenham course. Attention then switched to the Vauxhall Fields course. Leading up to the First World War the March 1912 meeting had to be abandoned due to the national coal strike, and racing did not return until October 1921. There was fierce competition with nearby Chepstow once it opened for the first time in 1927 and, in the end, Monmouth lost that battle and held its final two day meeting on Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th May 1933.


This racecourse is covered in Volume 3 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Captain West, Sir J Dutton, Sir W Morgan
Principal Races Monmouth County Members Plate, Monnow Stakes, Troy Plate, Wye Stakes

Thursday 8th September 1730

Monmouth £30 Plate
1. Infant owned by Mr Middleton
2. Peggy-grieves-me owned by Mr Neale
3. Moll Quickly owned by Sir J Dutton
4. Castaway owned by Sir W Morgan

Wednesday 6th October to Thursday 7th October 1824

Monmouth 5 Guineas Sweepstake over 2 miles and a furlong
1. Cardinal Puff owned by Mr Pryse
2. Melampus owned by Mr C Day
3. Wiseacre owned by Mr Goddard

Wrexham County Members Plate over 3 miles
1. Sloe owned by Mr Day
2. Presentiment owned by Mr Goddard
3. Dr Eady owned by Mr Pryse

Thursday 27th & Friday 28th September 1855

The Monnow Stakes over 1 ½ miles
1. Hothorpe owned by Mr T Olliver
2. Little Sambo owned by Mr Hylton
3. Eden owned by Mr Williams

Monmouth County Members Plate over a mile
1. Bright Phoebus owned by Mr Cartwright
2. Helene owned by Mr Lewis
3. Goldhill owned by Mr Haliford

The Troy Plate over 1 ½ miles
1. Phantom owned by Mr Orchard
2. Cardiff Lass owned by Mr Lewis
3. Susannah owned by Mr Thomas

The Wye Stakes over 7 furlongs
1. Cardiff Lass owned by Mr Lewis
2. Phillip owned by Mr G Drewe
3. Petticoat owned by Mr Lloyd

Monmouth Hunt National Hunt races first began on 28th September 1880 and were held on Vauxhall Meadows.

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

It seems incredible that a badge from the old racecourse still exists today and a copy is shown below:-

The Ordnance Survey maps shown below show the position of the racecourse relative to the town of Monmouth. The army made use of the racecourse during the First World War and the map from 1920 shows the position of the Army Barracks. Note also the Steeplechase course and the Hurdle course.

The final meeting took place on Thursday 4th May 1933.
Course today
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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