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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 10th October 1769
Final meeting: Friday 12th June 1840
The Norfolk market town of Thetford is in the Breckland district of the county, just south of Thetford Forest. It is steeped in history, dating back to the late Iron Age. The first record of racing in the town was a three day meeting from Tuesday 10th to Thursday 12th October 1769 although, in the event, no racing took place on Tuesday because there was only one entry, with only 2 horses entered on Wednesday. However, on Thursday the Gentlemen’s Subscription was won by Mr Strode’s Tim. Racing did take place in 1773, and again in 1774 when the three day meeting from Thursday 29th September to Saturday 1st October was much more competitive, with the Thetford Sweepstakes, confined to 3 year olds, being won by Mr Vernon’s Plunder, while the Duke of Grafton sponsored the main 4 mile race on the card which went to Mr Gascoyne’s Kingston. The final flat meeting for some time was staged on Friday 27th September 1782 when the Duke of Grafton Stakes was won by Mr Vernon’s well backed Lawn Sleeves, beating the Duke’s own Patience into third place. Racing returned in the 1830s, with entries accepted at The Bell Inn, when the two day meeting on Thursday 20th and Friday 21st June 1839 proved beneficial for Mr Brutie who won both the Hurdle Stakes and the Grafton Stakes with The Shanger, while the Handicap Sweepstakes was won by Polygar ridden by the famous Sam Chifney. A final two day meeting under rules took place on Thuesday 11 and Friday 12th June 1840.

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

Duke of Grafton, Duke of Queensberry, Duke of Devonshire, Sir Charles Bunbury, Lord Egremont, Lord Clermont, Lord Farnham

Principal Races Duke of Grafton Stakes, Thetford 3yo Sweepstake

29th September – 1st October 1774

Duke of Grafton £50 race over 4 miles
1 Kingston owned by Mr Gascoyne
2 Pincher owned by Mr Carver
3 Jonquille owned by Lord Farnham
4 Gertrude owned by Sir Charles Bunbury

Thetford 3 year old Sweepstake
1 Plunder owned by Mr Vernon
2 Darius owned by Mr Burlton
3 Lily owned by Lord Farnham

7th – 8th July 1780

Thetford £50 race over 2 miles
1 Caractacus owned by the Duke of Grafton
2 Thunderer owned by Mr Vernon

Thetford Town Plate over 2 miles
1 Hymen owned by Mr Vernon
2 Houghton owned by Mr Lacey
3 Slim owned by the Duke of Queensberry

Friday 27th September 1782, which was the final meeting held at the course.

Duke of Grafton Stakes over 2 miles
1. Lawn Sleeves owned by Mr Vernon
2. Smart owned by Mr Golding
3. Patience owned by the Duke of Grafton
Henley was made 4/5 favourite but drifted while the winner, wearing White with a Black cap, was backed to 4/6.

John Cary (1754-1835) was an English cartographer who published his atlas, The New and Correct English Atlas, in 1787. In 1794 he was commissioned by the Postmaster General to survey all English roads. The map shown below is an extract from his 1794 work.

The final flat meeting took place on 27th September 1782, although the Norfolk Weekly News reported a two day meeting on 20th and 21st June 1839, and it appears likely that regular meetings continued to be held in the town until Friday 12th June 1840.
Course today Thetford Common.
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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  Quantity Cost
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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