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Earliest meeting: Monday 9th October 1721
Final meeting: Thursday 22nd October 1857
The city of Sunderland, on the River Wear, is in Tyne and Wear and grew as a port trading coal and salt as early as the 14th century. The earliest mention of a race meeting in the city was in the Newcastle Courant of Saturday 19th August 1721 which advertised the 3 day meeting which began on Monday 9th October 1721. The newspaper extract is shown below, although the paper did not report the results from the meeting. Baily’s Racing Register first provided detailed results from races held on Sunderland Sands on Sunday 21st September 1732 when the £25 Plate was won by Mr Vane’s Jigg Filly, and the Gold Cup by Ringtail for Mr Newton. More than a century later the Sporting Magazine of 1837 reported a 2 day meeting at Red House Farm from Wednesday 13th to Thursday 14th September 1837 when the Members Plate was won by Mr Clarke’s Swainby, and the Hunters Stakes by Eliza for Mr Davidson. The final meeting took place on Thursday 22nd October 1857, although racing did return to the area in the late 19th and early 20th century when Sunderland and South Shields races were held at East Bolden.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Captain Pott, Mr H S Thompson
Principal Races Sunderland Gold Cup, Sunderland Members Plate, Sunderland Hurdle, Sunderland Hunters Stakes

The newspaper extract given below is shown courtesy of the Newcastle Courant and the British Library Online.

At Sunderland races in 1729 a curious incident occurred in the third heat of the £25 Plate. Smiling Molly was running in second place when she fell to her knees and appeared to throw her jockey. However, Harmless who was running in third place tried to pass Smiling Molly and her jockey reached down to help the jockey of Smiling Molly regain his balance. The leader, by this stage, had raced half a distance clear, although she ‘took offence at the shouting crowd’ and ran the wrong side of the Post. Although her jockey was able to stop her, turn her round and go the correct side of the Post she was automatically disqualified. This enabled Smiling Molly to race to victory in the third heat, so claiming the £25 Plate.

Sunday 21st September 1732

Sunderland £25 Plate
1. Jigg Filly owned by Mr Vane
2. Othello owned by Mr Bowes
3. Unnamed Chestnut mare owned by Mr Winship

Sunderland Gold Cup over 3 miles
1. Ringtail owned by Mr Newton
2. Northern Star owned by Mr Errington
3. Almahide owned by Mr Noble
4. Swallow owned by Mr Hassel

Wednesday 13th & Thursday 14th September 1837

Sunderland Members Plate over 2 miles
1. Swainby owned by Mr Clarke
2. Imp owned by Mr Jobling
3. Mr Merryman owned by Mr H S Thompson

Sunderland Hunters Stakes over 2 miles
1. Eliza owned by Mr Davidson
2. Finesse owned by Mr H S Thompson

Sunderland Hurdle Race over 1 ½ miles and 4 hurdles
1. Isabella owned by Mr Wormald
2. Trefoil owned by Captain Pott
3. Provost owned by Mr Beswick

Monday 3rd & Tuesday 4th September 1855

The Sunderland Handicap over a mile
1. Leybourne Lass owned by Mr Dobson
2. Yeutick owned by Mr G Duggleby
3. Angelo owned by Mr Brown

The Sunderland Members Plate over a mile
1. Contentment owned by Mr Ridsdale
2. Angelo owned by Mr Rogers
3. Unnamed filly by Foxberry owned by Mr Dawson

The final meeting took place on Thursday 22nd October 1857
Course today Initially on the Sands and then at Red House Farm.
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

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