Towcester Racecourse History

The earliest evidence of racing in the vicinity of Towcester was in 1876 at Easton Neston when Lord Hesketh received a visit from the Empress of Austria and sought to impress and entertain her. Single day meetings were held annually thereafter, and on Easter Saturday 1906 a Commemorative Challenge Cup steeplechase was held near Towcester. However, it was not until 1928 that the first National Hunt meeting under rules was staged. In the same year the Towcester Racecourse Company was formed under the direction of Lord Hesketh, with an impressive grandstand built in time for the inaugural meeting. Although racing lapsed during each of the two World Wars, the meetings soon recovered and continued to be well supported. In 2004 Lord Hesketh put the estate on the market, although he wanted to retain his interest in the racecourse. Soon afterwards Towcester decided to make entry to the course free, swelling the crowds even more. In December 2014 a controversial decision was made to open a greyhound track inside the racecourse, but this once again proved to be a good decision, with meetings well attended. Currently the course hosts 10 horse racing fixtures annually.

Towcester 1930.JPG (7894 bytes)
Towcester 1931.JPG (8503 bytes) Towcester 1933.JPG (12135 bytes)
Towcester continues to thrive today, whereas nearby Northampton closed its gates for the final time in 1904.
Towcester 1946.JPG (18520 bytes) The first recorded meeting at the Northamptonshire county town of Northampton took place in 1632 when races were inaugurated by the Corporation of Northampton and held on Harlestone Heath annually each Easter.  At these early races the Corporation donated a silver-gilt cup which, at the time, was valued at £16 13s 4d.  The next time a meeting was recorded in the town was on Thursday 11th April 1672 when the Northampton Silver Cup was won by Lord Sherard’s horse which defeated Sir W Hazlewood’s selected gelding and Lord Cullen’s horse which fell. By 1834 the track was staging the Northampton Steeplechase, one of the premier chases in the country at this time, which on Friday 4th April 1834 was won by Captain Lamb’s Vivian ridden by the infamous Captain Becher. Five years later, in August 1839 the track was hosting some of the most prestigious Flat races in the calendar, including Her Majesty’s Plate for 100 Guineas.  Despite hosting extremely important races, the course was unenclosed and on common ground. This meant that all and sundry could wander where they pleased and it made the course a dangerous place for horses, riders and spectators. There were many occasions when horses fell, or were brought down by incidents with spectators and it concerned the racing authorities. The final two day flat meeting took place on Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st March 1904. Towcester 1947.JPG (11071 bytes)
Towcester 1948.JPG (11158 bytes) Towcester 1950z.JPG (8325 bytes)
I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.
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Towcester 1953.JPG (10397 bytes) Towcester 1954.JPG (12742 bytes) Towcester 1956a.JPG (11005 bytes)
1953 Gents 1954 Gents 1955 Ladies 1956 Gents 1957 Gents
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1957 Ladies 1958 Gents 1959 Pair 1960 Gents 1960 Ladies
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1961 Gents 1962 Gents 1963 Gents 1963 Ladies 1964 Gents
Towcester 1964p.JPG (23844 bytes) Towcester 1965.JPG (10619 bytes) Towcester 1965p.JPG (20253 bytes) Towcester 1966p.JPG (27612 bytes) Towcester 1967e.JPG (11559 bytes)
1964 Ladies 1965 Gents 1965 Ladies 1966 Ladies 1967 Ladies
Towcester 1969e.JPG (10887 bytes) Towcester 1970.JPG (13067 bytes) Towcester 1971e.JPG (15044 bytes)
1968 Gents 1968 Ladies 1969 Ladies 1970 Gents 1971 Gents
Towcester 1972 gents.JPG (13806 bytes) Towcester 1972 ladies.JPG (11072 bytes) Towcester 1973s.JPG (10240 bytes) Towcester 1974.JPG (11934 bytes)
1972 Gents 1972 Ladies 1973 Ladies 1974 Ladies 1975 Ladies
Towcester 1976.JPG (11975 bytes) Towcester 1977.JPG (10406 bytes) Towcester 1978.JPG (11639 bytes)
1975 Gents 1976 Ladies 1977 Gents 1978 Gents 1979 Gents
Towcester 1980.JPG (11708 bytes) Towcester 1981p.JPG (24411 bytes) Towcester 1982e.JPG (12302 bytes) Towcester 1983a.JPG (12952 bytes) Towcester 1984.JPG (23029 bytes)
1980 Gents 1981 Gents 1982 Gents 1983 Gents 1984 Gents
Towcester 1985d.JPG (25056 bytes) Towcester 1986gt.JPG (30523 bytes) Towcester 1986c.JPG (13918 bytes) Towcester 1987p.JPG (20805 bytes) tow88.JPG (14140 bytes)
1985 Gents 1986 Gents 1986 Ladies 1987 Gents 1988 Gents
Towcester 1989.JPG (11057 bytes) Towcester 1990.JPG (29041 bytes) Towcester 1991z.JPG (12806 bytes) Towcester 1992.JPG (10281 bytes) Towcester 1993.JPG (10940 bytes)
1989 Gents 1990 Gents 1991 Gents 1992 Gents 1993 Gents
Towcester 1994.JPG (9928 bytes) Towcester 1995.JPG (11817 bytes) Towcester 1996 gents.JPG (16699 bytes) Towcester 1997.JPG (12382 bytes) Towcester 1998e.JPG (15582 bytes)
1994 Gents 1995 Gents 1996 Gents 1997 Gents 1998 Gents
Towcester 1999.JPG (11661 bytes) Towcester 2000.JPG (12549 bytes) Towcester 2001e.JPG (20709 bytes)  
1999 gents 2000 Gents 2001 gents 2002 Gents  
Towcester Races, visited by Brill Punters Club Members on Monday 11th May 2015
The rare handbill shown below is provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.

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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