PLYMOUTH RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 31st July 1810
Final meeting: Thursday 4th September 1930
The picturesque Devon city of Plymouth, at the mouth of the Rivers Plym and Tamar, is located on the south coast just 37 miles from Exeter. The earliest record of racing in the area was at Whitchurch Down when a meeting, billed as ‘Tavistock and Plymouth’ was held on Tuesday 31st July 1810 and proved to be a controversial affair. In the first heat of the four runner all age event Trinculo crossed White Rose forcing him to go the wrong side of a post. The local Stewards were unacquainted with the rules and allowed both to start in the next heat despite White Rose being distanced. In the event the race was won by Captain Weir’s White Rose from Red Cross Knight, but the matter was referred to the Jockey Club Stewards who disqualified both Trinculo and White Rose, promoting Red Cross Knight as the winner. The next time races were staged in the vicinity of the city was at Crabtree in 1827, although it is likely these were just one attraction at a festival. A year later the races moved to their final destination at Chelson Meadow, on land enclosed by the Earl of Morley, when known as the ‘Plymouth and Devonport’ meeting. It proved to be an exceptionally good meeting for Mr Bacon when Dandelion won both the Saltram Stakes and the prestigious Plymouth Gold Cup, sponsored by His Majesty the King. The racecourse was a flat, oval course of 12 furlongs with a straight run-in of just 2 ½ furlongs. In 1833 the meeting was named 'The Plymouth, Devonport and Cornwall races' featuring the Handicap Plate over one mile which saw George Osbaldeston’s Lady Elizabeth beat Land’s End and Coronet. Racing continued, although crowds gradually declined to such an extent that the final flat races were staged in 1885, although within three years National Hunt racing was flourishing in the city. A steeplechase meeting had taken place on Monday 2nd June 1884 when the Dartmoor Hunt Chase was won by Mr J Pethick’s Game Cock, while the Plymouth Hunt Cup went to Mr Taylor’s Lede. Although meetings continued right up to the start of the War, they decreased in popularity because trainers were loath to travel the long distances to reach the course. A meeting was due to take place on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd September 1914 but the War caused it to be abandoned. After the War ended racing did return, although meetings seldom attracted large fields and attendances continued to dwindle. The final meeting took place on Thursday 4th September 1930, although there were numerous attempts to revive the races every year leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

His Majesty, Sir Walter Carew, Sir J Buller, Sir L.Glynn, George Osbaldeston

Principal Races

Plymouth Gold Cup, Plymouth Queen's Cup, Saltram Stakes, Cornwall Stakes, Welter Stakes, The Lyneham Stakes

Tuesday 31st July 1810
Plymouth & Tavistock All Aged Race over 3 miles
1. Red Cross Knight, 5 year old owned by Sir W Call 1 2 1
2. Tekeli, 5 year old owned by Mr James 2 1 1
Disq. White Rose, 6 year old owned by Captain Weir
Disq. Trinculo, 4 year old owned by Mr Handley

Tuesday 5th to Wednesday 6th August 1828

The Saltram Stakes over 2 miles and a distance
1. Dandelion owned by Mr Bacon
2. Noureddin owned by Sir L.Glynn

Plymouth Gold Cup sponsored by His Majesty over 2 miles and a distance
1. Dandelion owned by Mr Bacon
2. Prosody owned by Mr Taunton

Friday 11th May 1838

The Lyneham Stakes over a mile
1. Mustapha owned by Mr Taunton
2. Vision owned by Sir Walter Carew
3. Wrestler owned by Sir J Buller

James Whyte’s History of the British Turf records the August 1839 races as:-
The Saltram Stakes once around the oval, mile and a half course;
The Cornwall Stakes over a mile;
The Welter Stakes over a mile and a half;

Eric Graham produced a great article on Plymouth Racecourse.
The final meeting took place on Thursday 4th September 1930
Course today

Initially at Whitchurch Down, then Crabtree and then on to Chelson Meadow, which has now been taken over by the National Trust. Chelson Meadow was taken over by the National Trust and many visit the stately home.

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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