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Earliest meeting: April 1861
Final meeting: Friday 15th March 1907
The ‘County History of Bedfordshire’ recorded that the Oakley Hunt Steeplechases were established in April 1861 and took place on a course at Clapham Common, about 2 miles outside of Bedford. The initial programme consisted of 4 races over a 4 mile course, including the Hunt Cup Steeplechase of £100, and was deemed to be very successful with hunting men and local farmers. The next year the meeting took place on Friday 11th April 1862 on Mr George Higgin’s Farm on the Kimbolton road. It opened with the Duke of Manchester Volunteer Chase which went to Mr Higgin’s Skeleton, while the Sweepstake which followed was won by Mr Taylor’s Mercury. The principal race, the Bedford Handicap Steeplechase, was captured by Mr Bevill’s Escape. Racing continued on Clapham Common for the next 4 years. In 1888 the Oakley Hunt moved to Kimbolton on Easter Monday and continued at this venue for some time, holding a single meeting annually. However, the final meeting held under rules took place on Friday 15th March 1907, although the course was still used for point to point racing after this date.


The Cambridgeshire village of Kimbolton was once part of the historic county of Huntingdonshire and lies just 7 miles west of St Neots and 24 miles west of the university city of Cambridge. It can trace its history back before the 1086 Domesday Book in which it was recorded, and its most prominent, historic building is Kimbolton Castle. The Castle remains and is now an independent school, but at one time it was the home, and some would say prison, of Katherine of Aragon after she was divorced by Henry VIII. The Oakley Hunt has held races at Kimbolton, on a course near to Hoo Farm since the early days of the 1800s. For details of Lilly Hoo races and The Hoo races see the links below.

Local Patrons Duke of Manchester, Mr Harry Thornton, Mr R W Arkwright (Stewards)
Principal Races

Bedford Handicap Steeplechase, Kimbolton Plate, Kimbolton Open Plate

Friday 11th April 1862
Bedford Handicap Steeplechase
1. Escape, aged horse owned by Mr Bevill
2. Willoughby, aged horse owned by Mr Lington
3. Lady’s Maid, aged mare owned by Mr Wilding Jones

In 1888 the Oakley Hunt held a meeting at Kimbolton on Easter Monday. Races continued to be organised by the Oakley Hunt at Kimbolton once a year. However, the final meeting held under rules took place on Friday 15th March 1907.

The final meeting took place on 15th March 1907.

Course today

Although meetings ceased under rules in 1907, the Oakley Hunt continued to make use of the Kimbolton course for their point to point meetings.

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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