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Earliest meeting: Monday 1st May 1876
Final meeting: Monday 23rd April 1877
The East Sussex town of Polegate lies in the Wealden district of the county, situated just 5 miles north of the coastal resort of Eastbourne. Polegate was only a small village until the 1840s when it enjoyed the benefit of a rail link on the line running between Lewes, a great racing centre, and Hastings. In 1875 the Duke of Devonshire refused permission for racing to continue on his land at Bullock Down and Beachy Head, causing Eastbourne races to cease. A suitable piece of ground owned by Mr J and R Paxton was found in the parish of Willington on which to develop an alternative course. Nearby Polegate provided rail access, and the challenging course, with 7 fences, 2 flights of hurdles and a 15 foot wide water jump, had a grandstand erected. All of the work was completed in time for the launch meeting on Monday 1st May 1876 when the Earl of Lewes, Lord Maidstone and Earl Poulett provided their support. The Open Hunters Hurdle saw Mr R Frewen’s Exing defeat Tom Tit and Thinskin, while the South Coast Railway Stakes over 2 ½ miles was won by the same horse. The feature race was the Polegate Stakes which was won by Knight of St John. Such was the success of the meeting that a meal at the Lamb Hotel, Old Town was organised in July to raise funds for a second meeting arranged for Monday 23rd April 1877. At that meeting the Polegate Stakes was won by Mr T Frewen’s Piccadilly, although there was a shock in the South Coast Railway Stakes when the 1/3 Crawler had to settle for second spot behind the 10/1 Latitat.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Earl of Lewes, Lord Maidstone, Lord Marcus Beresford, Earl Poulett
Principal Races Polegate Stakes, South Coast Railway Stakes

Monday 1st May 1876
Polegate Stakes over 2 ½ miles
1. Knight of St John, aged horse owned by Major Browne
2. Ceres, aged horse owned by Mr Foreman
3. Lady Eva, aged mare owned by the Earl of Lewes
4. Surprise, aged horse owned by Captain Farquhar

The final meeting took place on Monday 23rd April 1877.

Course today Fields owned by Mr J Paxton in Willington near Polegate.
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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