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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 17th July 1722
Final meeting: Thursday 3rd April 1862
The Warwickshire market town of Rugby, on the River Avon, is widely regarded as the place where the game of Rugby was invented. It lies 13 miles east of Coventry and, although in Warwickshire, it is located close to the borders of both Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. In the early-1700s the town had its own racecourse; the Stamford Mercury advertsied a 3 day meeting from Tuesday 17th to Thursday 19th July 1722 and an extract from that paper is shown below. About 30 years later the ‘Historical List of Horse-Matches Run in 1751’ recorded a 2 day meeting held in the town from Thursday 27th to Friday 28th June 1751. Lord Chadworth’s White Stockings won the £50 Purse on the opening day, while the Sir Charles Sedley owned True Blue was successful in the Real Hunters Plate on the second day. A follow-up two day meeting was staged the next year on Tuesday 23rd June, when Crab won the Weight for Age Purse for Captain Vernon, while on Wednesday 24th June 1752 Little David caused an upset in the Hunters Purse beating Fox and Smart. Meetings were held on a very regular basis for the next century, the town becoming famous for its steeplechase races. A number of meetings were organised by the Rugby Hunt Committee at Clifton-on-Dunsmore, about 2 miles east of the town, culminating in the National Hunt Cup over 4 miles being won by Fidget on Thursday 3rd April 1862.

The town also was host to a number of meetings organised by the Rugby Hunt Committee, and these are described in a separate page on this site, and can be accessed using the link:-

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Cullen, Lord Chadworth, Sir Charles Sidley, Captain Vernon
Principal Races Real Hunters Plate, Rugby Steeplechase

The newspaper extract below is shown courtesy of the Stamford Mercury and British Library Online, advertising a 3 day meeting at Rugby in 1722.

Thursday 27th June 1751

Rugby £50 Purse
1. White Stockings, chestnut gelding owned by Lord Chadworth 1 1
2. Monument, chestnut gelding owned by Mr Tutin 2 3
3. Arthur of Bradley, chestnut gelding owned by Mr Bradley 5 2
4. Colesby, grey mare owned by Mr Dawkins 3 dist
5. Homefly, chestnut owned by Mr Newark 4 dist

Friday 28th June 1751

Rugby Real Hunters’ Plate
1. True Blue, bay gelding owned by Sir Charles Sidley 1 1
2. Rawhead & Bloody Bones, bay gelding owned by Mr Churchill 2 2
3. Random, brown gelding owned by Mr Phillips dist

23rd June 1752

Rugby £50 Weight for Age Purse
1. Crab, grey horse owned by Captain Vernon
2. Sultana, chestnut mare owned by Lord Cullen
3. Sprightley, chestnut gelding owned by Mr Jones

24th June 1752

Rugby 50 Guineas Hunters Purse
1. Little David, bay gelding owned by Mr Gare
2. Fox, dun horse owned by Mr Gregory
3. Smart, bay gelding owned by Mr Lister

The final meeting took place on Thursday 3rd April 1862.
Course today About 2 miles east of Rugby at Clifton-on-Dunsmore.
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

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 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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