SHREWSBURY RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: 1718
Final meeting: Wednesday 19th October 1887
The first recorded meeting in the Shropshire town of Shrewsbury was in 1718 when a Plate was contested at Kingsland. The previous year the Shrewsbury Mercers’ Company had set aside £5 for a 3 year period to purchase the Plate. Racing continued at Kingsland until 1724 when the course became enclosed and racing in the town was interrupted. Racing returned in 1729 on a course in the Monkmoor area of the town, and a year later Baily’s Racing Register first provided detailed results from the races held in June when the important His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Plate was won by Tarran. A brilliant race was staged on Thursday 21st September 1824, the start of a three day meeting, when the mile and a furlong Produce Stakes brought together Lord Grosvenor’s Aigrette, previously sixth in the 2000 Guineas, and Sir W Wynn’s Rebecca, previously runner-up in the 1000 Guineas. After a gigantic battle Aigrette defeated the gallant Rebecca. It proved to be an excellent meeting for Lord Grosvenor who also won the Gold Cup with Eqtiquette and the St Leger with Hybla. The course, situated at Bicton Heath, about 2 miles west of the town centre, was oval with a circumference of a mile and 185 yards, with a straight run in of half a mile which had a slight incline before the final furlong. Shrewsbury races began to gain the reputation of being fixed, and the course was often infested with pickpockets, and it therefore came as no surprise when the final meeting took place on the Wednesday 19th October 1887.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Duke of Bolton, Lord Onslow, Lord Castlehaven, Sir Charles Leighton, William Pulteney, Lord Grosvenor, Sir W Wynn, Sir G Pigot, Sir T Stanley

Principal Races Gold Cup, His Majesty's 100 Guineas Plate, Produce Stakes, Shrewsbury St Leger, Coleman Stakes, Tankerville Stakes

Friday 2nd June 1730

His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Plate over 4 miles
1. Tarran owned by Mr Sheppard
2. Foxhunter owned by The Duke of Bolton
3. Pantaloon owned by Lord Onslow

Tuesday 21st to Thursday 23rd September 1762

Shrewsbury 2 and a half mile Purse
1. Young Roger owned by Mr Burslem
2. Fair Play owned by Mr Caslwell
3. Bold Briton owned by Mr Thomas

Tuesday 17th to Thursday 19th September 1782

Leighton, Bart & Pulteney Sweepstake over 2 and a half miles
1. Raffle owned by Mr Lloyd
2. Young Transit owned by Mr Lambourne
3. Dido owned by Mr Drakeford

Tuesday 21st September to Thursday 23rd September 1824

Shrewsbury Produce Stakes over a mile and a furlong
1. Aigrette owned by Lord Grosvenor
2. Rebecca owned by Sir W Wynn
Aigrette had previously run 6th in the Newmarket 2000 Guineas, whilst Rebecca was runner up to Cobweb in the 1000 Guineas.

Shrewsbury Gold Cup over 2 miles 1 furlong
1. Etiquette owned by Lord Grosvenor
2. Euphrates owned by Mr Mytton
3. Sir Edward owned by Mr Rogers

Shrewsbury St Leger Stakes over a mile and a furlong
1. Hybla owned by Lord Grosvenor
2. Berghill owned by Mr Mytton
3. Haji Baba owned by Sir T Stanley

Halston Stakes over a mile and a furlong
1. Berghill owned by Mr Mytton walked over

Racing at Shrewsbury was first recorded in 1718 and took place for over a century until the last meeting on 19th October 1887. The picture of the course shown opposite is from the Illustrated London News.

Another view of the Shrewsbury racecourse facilities is provided by the London News in 1854. This is shown opposite and indicated an aptly named 'Grand National Archery Meeting' taking place at the course.

Evidence of a meeting taking place at the Bicton Heath course on 16th September 1818 when the Gentlemen's Gold Cup was competed for. The cup was valued at 100 guineas and was paid for by 10 subscribers who each made a contribution of 10 guineas. This would probably have given them entrance to the races for a number of years, or even life membership. The racecard opposite shows the runners in the Cleveland Handicap.

James Whyte’s History of the British Turf notes that racing at Bicton Heath first took place at the Shropshire town of Shrewsbury in 1730. The course was situated at Bicton Heath, about 2 miles west of the town centre. It was oval with a circumference of a mile and 185 yards with a straight run in of half a mile. The three day meeting took place in mid-September, and in September 1839 the races were:-
The Whitehall Stakes over a mile and a half;
The Tankerville Stakes over 2 miles;
The Shrewsbury St Leger over a mile and a quarter;
The Coleman Stakes over 6 furlongs;
Shrewsbury Gold Cup over 3 miles;
The Shropshire Stakes over 2 miles;
The Cleveland Stakes over 2 miles;

Shrewsbury races gained the reputation of being fixed, and the course was often infested with pickpockets, and it therefore came as no surprise when the final meeting took place on the 19th October 1887.

With gratitude to John Griffiths who wrote the book of Walsall Racecourse advertised on this home page.

The final meeting took place on Wednesday 19th October 1887.
Course today Initially at Kingsland and then at Bicton Heath.

The rare handbill shown below is provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.

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

The front cover/ principal races from this rare racecard are provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.

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:-

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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Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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