Richard Gauthier Collection
|The first evidence of racing in the vicinity of Leicester was at Abbey Meadow on Wednesday 23rd March 1603, the day before the death of Queen Elizabeth I. The Leicester Corporation Town Plate was the feature of these early meetings, an event which was abandoned towards the end of the 17th century, only to be re-established in 1720. Twenty years later meetings were transferred to St Mary’s Field, but the meeting was still held at Abbey Meadow in 1739 as indicated by the newspaper extract shown below. The Leicester Gold Cup, worth 100 sovereigns, was introduced in 1807 on Victoria Park racecourse, a course which was still being used after 1883 despite racing transferring to its current site at Oadby. Victoria Park enjoyed a grandstand with a balcony and two long seats underneath the balcony. After racing switched to Oadby, Victoria Park became the cricket ground and the grandstand was used as the cricket pavilion, while much later it operated as tea rooms. The opening meeting at Oadby was held on Tuesday 24th July 1883, causing Victoria Park to close their gates for the final time on Friday 7th September 1883. Two memorable events took place at Leicester in the 20th century; on Thursday 31st March 1921 a young apprentice called Gordon Richards rode his first winner on Gay Lord; on Friday 20th January 1931 Golden Miller won the lowly Gopsall Maiden Hurdle before going on to record numerous Gold Cup and Grand National successes. The principal race at the track is the King Richard III Stakes, a Listed race which was named in honour of the King in 2013, but was formerly known as the Leicestershire Stakes, with full results shown below. Currently the course hosts 11 National Hunt and 21 flat fixtures annually.
Monday 18th September 1727
Leicester £30 Plate for horses carrying 12 stone
1. Snip, bay horse owned by Mr Musters
2. Single Peeper, brown gelding owned by Mr Cole
3. Long John, bay horse owned by Mr Stevenson