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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 14th September 1685
Final meeting: Monday 27th March 1876
Today Newport Pagnell is better known as a Motorway service station, but at one point it was a thriving Buckinghamshire town which held its first races in the latter part of the 17thcentury. The London Gazette of 10th to 13th August 1685 gave notice, ‘That on the second Wednesday in September next, the Town Plate of Newport Pagnel in Bucks, being of 20 Guineas value, will be run for there (three Heats and ten stone) round a 4 mile course; and that Gentlemen's Guineas being about 40, will be Run for there on the next day (three Heats and 12 stone) round the same course. Each Prize will be run for by the same Articles they were run for in September last." Clearly this implies that meetings were certainly taking place before 1685. However, in the early years of the next century results were more widely reported. A two day meeting took place in 1728, but it was considered a very modest affair consisting of the Newport Pagnell Selling Plate for £15, the winner being sold for 30 Guineas, and the Newport Pagnell Purse for 30 Guineas on the second day. There were only two runners contesting the race on day two and they had already met on the first day. The first meeting to have results published in Baily’s Racing Register was on Sunday 18th September 1729 when the 30 Guineas Selling Plate was won by Lord Halifax’s Goliah. By 1739 the wealthy supporters of the meeting withdrew their support and the card consisted of just one Ten Guinea stakes race which proved to be the last meeting to be held until 1756. Racing continued intermittently for over a century until the final meeting on the old track took place on Thursday 18th August 1836 when both the Newport Gold Cup and Plate were won by Mr W Smith’s Ruinous. Traditionally the Newport Pagnell Handicap was the opening chase of the season, with the Sporting Magazine of 1846 summing up the importance of the chase by writing ‘an imitation of the grand doing seen the other side of the channel, it is hoped to raise at least the same sum £400 to be added to the prize. To increase the inducement to foreigners sending their horses, liberal allowances in weight will be made’.  A new course on the Crawley Road, 2 miles east of the town, was introduced for the meeting on Tuesday 19th December 1848. The course, with trying leaps and unsteady ground, was not well received by racing afficionadas. The opening Aristocrat Chase was won by Lincoln for Mr Bedford, who beat Captain Peel’s Khondooz, while the feature steeplechase went to Vengeance. After yet another break in race meetings, racing was revived in 1868 when a steeplechase meeting as well as a 5 furlong selling race took place. The final meeting at the old track took place on Monday 27th March 1876.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Halifax,Lord Strathmore, Captain Peel, Mr W Smith, Mr Williams
Principal Races Newport Pagnell Gold Cup, Free Handicap Steeplechase

Sunday 18th September 1729

Newport Pagnell 30 Guineas Selling Plate
1. Goliah owned by Lord Halifax
The Grey horse beat just one other to claim the Plate.

Tuesday 24th to Wednesday 25th September 1782

Newport Pagnell Town Purse over 3 miles
1. Merry Traveller owned by Mr Williams
2. Merkin owned by Mr Simpson
3. Venture owned by Mr Jones
There were joint favourites in Merkin and Merry Traveller

Newport Pagnell Gentlemens’ Purse over 4 miles
1. Slender owned by Mr Tombs
2. Fox owned by Mr Wydham
3. Merry Traveller owned by Mr Williams

Thursday 18th August 1836

Newport Pagnell Gold Cup over 3 miles
1. Ruinous owned by Mr W Smith walked over

Newport Pagnell Plate over a mile and a half
1. Ruinous owned by Mr W Smith
2. Water Nymph owned by Mr W Mason
3. Unnamed gelding owned by Mr Flesher

Newport Pagnell Hunters Stakes over a mile and a half
1. Unnamed gelding by Pilgrim owned by Mr Westley
2. Leeway owned by Mr W Marriott
3. Marshall owned by Mr Goodman

Tuesday 19th December 1848
Newport Pagnell Free Handicap Steeplechase over 3 miles
1. Vengeance, aged horse owned by Mr Vever
2. Pullaway, aged horse owned by Mr Olliver
3. Ballybar, aged horse owned by Mr Geary
Betting: 4/1 Pullaway, 5/1 Carlow, 10/1 Vengeance

In 1849 William Archer, father of the legendary jockey Fred Archer, won the Newport Pagnell Steeplechase on Charity. The next year he was aboard Vengeance (15/1) in the 1850 Grand National for Mr Vever, but ran unplaced. Two years later he rode Warner (12/1) in the Grand National for Lord Waterford, but was again unplaced. In 1853 he was well down the field aboard View Halloo (100/6) for Mr Megson, but had much better luck in the 1854 Grand National when gaining second place on Spring (20/1) some 15 lengths behind Bourton. He finally claimed his place in history in the 1858 Grand National when winning on Little Charley (100/6) by 4 lengths. It proved to be his final ride in the great race.

The final meeting at the old track took place on Monday 27th March 1876.
Course today A steeplechase course on the Crawley Road, two miles east of the town.
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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