PORTSMOUTH PARK RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 14th September 1816
Final meeting: Saturday 17th April 1915
The Hampshire city of Portsmouth is the second largest city in the county, located just 19 miles south east of Southampton. It has been the most significant naval port for centuries, but much later it held its own race meetings. The first two day meeting took place on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th September 1816 when the local Garrison organised the meeting, although the main Subscription Plate was for non-thoroughbreds.  The Garrison Purse was won by Captain Moore’s Romp, beating Teddy and Punch, while the Ladies Purse went to Lieutenant Wildey’s Lydia. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s Garrison races were staged, initially billed as ‘Portsmouth and Portsea Garrison Races’ and then as ‘Portsmouth Town and Garrison Races’, many of the meetings covered in this edition under Portsea races.  At the two day meeting in October 1836 the Garrison Stakes and Silver Cup went to Captain Witham’s Florence, while the Ladies Plate was won by Rosebud. Racing ceased in the middle of the 19th century, but returned for a National Hunt meeting on Monday 26th March 1888 when the appropriately named Inauguration Steeplechase Cup was won by Doggerbank. However, plans were afoot to place the city firmly on the racing map with a meeting at Portsmouth Park. It was a 1 ½ mile circuit with a one mile straight and boasted one of the most modern grandstands in the country. However, its position on Farlington Marshes near Langstone Harbour, some 6 miles from Portsmouth, was less than ideal. While it was anticipated that the crowds would roll up in their thousands to the launch meeting on Friday 26th June 1891, in the end the management were disappointed. That inaugural two day meeting lasted from Friday 26th June and stretched to a second day on Saturday 27th June 1891, opening with a famous victory for HRH The Prince of Wales in the Portsmouth Park Inauguration Plate over a mile and two furlongs when Pierette prevailed, while the Rothschild Plate went to St Cyr and the Grand Prize to Mr R S Evans’s Rotten Row. The meeting was backed by such high profile supporters that it should have been a spectacular success, but the location was described as dreary, the access challenging, and the position isolated. The management overestimated their own importance, launching the prestigious Portsmouth Park Cup on Thursday 10th November 1892, not realsing that the clash with Liverpool’s popular November meeting would significantly deplete their crowd. Although meetings continued, the quality of racing was not as good as expected, crowds dwindled and prize money sometimes was not paid. Meetings often had to be cancelled and it was a surprise that the course lasted as long as it did. The final meeting was held on Saturday 17th April 1915, after which the War intervened, with the War Office using the site as an ammunition depot. After the War ended there was no further thoroughbred racing, although pony racing continued up to the start of the Second World War on a course purpose built to a high specification at Wymering, now under Paulsgrove Estate.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons HRH The Prince of Wales, Colonel North
Principal Races Portsmouth Park Summer Handicap, August Plate, Rothschild Plate, Portsmouth Park Grand Prize
Friday 26th June 1891

The Portsmouth Park Inauguration Plate over a mile and 2 furlongs
1. Pierrette owned by HRH the Prince of Wales
2. Nunthorpe owned by Colonel North
3. Barmecide owned by Mr J B Burton

The Rothschild Plate over a mile
1. St Cyr owned by Mr John Charlton
2. Reigning Monarch owned by Mr J McKenna
3. Scorcher owned by Mr A M Singer

The Portsmouth Park Grand Prize over a mile
1. Rotten Row owned by Mr R S Evans
2. John Morgan owned by Mr John Legh
3. The Imp owned by HRH the Prince of Wales

Portsmouth Park racecard.JPG (13283 bytes)
With grateful thanks to Robin Charnock for the scans
With grateful thanks to John Griffiths (See Walsall & Hednesford Racecourses for his book)
The final meeting took place on 17th April 1915 but in the early 1920's a course opened at Wymering Park, Paulsgrove, although this was only for Pony Racing and continued to operate until its final meeting on 23rd August 1939.
Course today At Portsmouth Park on Farlington Marshes, near Langstone Harbour. Occupied now by playing fields at Farlington, with a bridge close to the old racecourse grandstand.
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

Portsmouth Swimming Club undated oct obv414.jpg (286670 bytes) Portsmouth Swimming Club undated oct rev415.jpg (383696 bytes)
Undated (Front) Undated (Back) 1905 1906
1907 1912 1913 1914
Note the above badges are Portsmouth Swimming Club badges and not Race Club badges, whilst the badges below are from Portsmouth Race Club. Grateful thanks to Mike Knight for the Swimming badges shown above to enable collectors to differentiate between a Race Club badge and Swimming Club badge.
Portsmouth 1891RE.JPG (16833 bytes)
1891 1914 1934 1935
     
1936      

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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